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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
View of Alexander's Hill

Photos courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project. Click on images to enlarge.
by Marc Waelkens

Alexander's Hill: July 6-12, 2003

Alexander's Hill is a peculiarly shaped conical hill located to the south of the city. It was the scene of the battle in 333 B.C. by which Alexander conquered the city. We conducted test soundings there in 2001. The hill was clearly surrounded by a circuit wall made of dry-laid rubble stones, apparently built during the early Byzantine period. In its center we found the floor of a completely destroyed church. We've carried out test soundings here for nearly two weeks this summer to further document the final occupation of this area and to establish the date of the church.

Therefore, we opened several trenches along the northern and southern edges of the circuit wall. In the latter, we discovered a fairly large cistern. Two middle Byzantine coins, one of which dates to the reign of Manuel Komnenos (twelfth century), as well as pottery found in the lowest level, suggest a construction date for the cistern in the twelfth-thirteenth century A.D. The cistern seems to have belonged to a larger complex that will be excavated next year. A few Selçuk sherds found in it, could indicate that we are dealing here with a middle Byzantine fortification. It may have been destroyed by the Selçuks, who filled the cistern, the only possible water-supply system on this hill, to prevent any further occupation. The fill also contained some very special items, documenting various phases of the hill's occupation history.

It thus became clear that during the second century A.D. it housed a temple of the Ionic order. This temple may have belonged to "the (unnamed) goddess" mentioned on a small altar found inside the cistern and set up by one of her priests.

We also found many elements belonging to the architectural decoration of the church inside the cistern's fill. Among them several parts of the ambon plates, decorated with geometrical motifs containing crosses and rosettes set in circles and lozenges. We also found a part of the door lintel decorated with similar motifs as well as a palm tree. The decoration clearly dates the construction of this church around A.D. 500. It thus may have been one of the oldest churches of Sagalassos, built shortly after the basilica dedicated to St. Michael in the courtyard of the Bouleuterion (council hall).

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