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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
View of the late Roman dwelling in the eastern portico
Found in room 2 was a hearth with amphora remains (center) and the vessel with fetus bones (front).
The vessel with fetus bones

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

The Lower Agora: July 13-19, 2003

Last week, and during previous seasons, we exposed a Byzantine water-supply system (early Byzantine at the earliest). After it had been drawn and photographed, we removed it completely. Its bottom was composed of large, slightly curved terra-cotta tiles placed in a step-like arrangement; the sides and cover were made of mortared rubble. It became clear that this water-supply system was built on top of the collapsed west facade of the Roman baths in the northern part of the agora. It also covered the ruins of the early seventh-century A.D. butchery we discovered last year, indicating that its layout goes back to a period after the mid-seventh century A.D. earthquake. Toward the south, where the Baths' facade is still better preserved, the shops behind the eastern portico of the Lower Agora had clearly been partially destroyed and filled up to create the necessary slope for the flow of the water-supply system, which covered them. The debris upon which the water-supply system had been arranged also contained a round altar dedicated by "the demos" (people) to the sun god Helios.

In our southern excavation trench, the structure of the late Roman-to-early Byzantine dwelling became clearly visible. This had been arranged inside the eastern portico and the shops behind it, a phenomenon known as "encroachment." This dwelling thus far contains four rooms. Room 1, corresponding with the northernmost shop, had a niche in its northeast corner and was accessible from the north. Room 2 was installed in the portico proper and could be entered from the south. It provided access to room 3 in the east and room 4 in the north. Its floor consists for the main part of the limestone slabs from the portico. Its northwestern corner contained a small bench. The material from the last occupation--ceramics from A.D. 450/75 to 550/75; an oil lamp of the mid-sixth century at the earliest; lots of metal objects such as balances, iron plates, handles, hinges; window and vessel glass--points to a final occupation in the third quarter of the sixth century. Room 3 appears to be a kind of corridor east of room 2 installed in the former shops and giving access to room 2 from the west, to room 1 in the south and to room 4 in the north. Toward the end of the week, we found a Corinthian capital--decorated with a nice sphinx figure at its four corners--in the sixth-century abandonment layer. Against the east wall, we discovered the remains of a hearth. Near it were the remains of a locally produced amphora and of a vessel that contained the bones of a human fetus. Stillborn children in antiquity were discarded as waste material, but the presence near the hearth was a kind of shock to us. Room 4, the most northernmost room, spans in width both the former portico and the shops. We have yet to define its northern border.

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