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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
A model of the Antoninus Pius temple viewed from the northwest
Parts of the dedicatory inscription for the "divine" Hadrian

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

The Antoninus Pius Sanctuary: July 13-19, 2003

The team that in previous weeks investigated Alexander's Hill now moved to the promontory with the imperial sanctuary. Based on its partially preserved dedication, it had previously been identified as a temple to Antoninus Pius (r. A.D. 138-161). Yet the architectural decoration showed that the construction of the sanctuary must have started during the second half of the reign of Hadrian (r. A.D. 117-138). In late antiquity or during the Middle Ages, the promontory carrying the sanctuary had been surrounded by a circuit wall of its own, built of reused ashlars. In the northwestern part of the sanctuary some rather regularly arranged later structures were visible.

The purpose of the trench here was to document this final occupation of the promontory, but it produced some unexpected other results. First, the discovery of the beginning of the temple's dedicatory inscription, fitting three fragments found on the surface. They clearly showed that the temple was not only dedicated to Antoninus Pius, but, in the first place, to his adoptive father, the "divine"--which means the deceased and deified--Hadrian! A second discovery was part of the northern portico surrounding the temple square. The column bases were still in place, and fragments of the capitals and entablature indicated that this peristyle was of the Ionic order, and not Corinthian, which the temple itself is. A second-century A.D. walking level reached the lower part of the second step. The "late structures" encroaching in the northwest corner of the courtyard and portico could be dated in their oldest phase to the second half of the fifth or the beginning of the sixth century A.D. A second encroachment phase belonged to the sixth century, possibly after an earthquake around A.D. 500. These structures were made of stone bocks taken from the temple and dry rubble masonry. We still are unable to say what their function was. The topsoil contained a small amount of mid-Byzantine common wares, as well as a late eleventh-century A.D. coin (an anonymous follis).

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