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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Midrea Udrescu and Fabienne Pigiere at work
The flotation station in full activity

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

Subsistence Studies: August 3-9, 2003

Faunal Remains

This week archaeozoologists Fabienne Pigiere and Mircea Udrescu took over from Wim Van Neer and Bea De Cupere (all Royal Museum of Central Africa at Tervuren), giving priority to two sites:

The Antoninus Pius Sanctuary
The early and late Roman fills from the Antoninus Pius sanctuary yielded a large quantity of animal remains. The fauna from the three different trenches was identified and inventoried during this week. The material consists mainly of consumption refuse in which domestic mammals predominate, but there are some differences between trenches, which will be further analysed on the basis of detailed chronological data. Indeed, trench 2 differs from trench 3 in that goat and sheep remains are most common in the former, while pig dominates in the latter. On the other hand, in both trenches the bones of cattle are quite low. The finds also attest the consumption of juvenile pig and sheep or goat. Chicken was apparently consumed in quite large quantities. Finally, some fish from the sieving residues complete the list of the consumed animals. Artisanal activity is represented by waste of a bone-working industry from the trench 3.

The Fault in the Northern Necropolis
The exploratory excavation carried out north of the Zeus Temple and the Northwest Heroon (see Seismological Studies, July 27-August 2) yielded interesting faunal remains including both food remains and carcasses of equids. Considering the consumption refuse, the remains of domestic animals from the first century A.D. are dominated by those of sheep or goat (with goat more common when they can be told apart), while the proportions of cattle and pig are almost identical. These results fit in with the trend already known for this period at Sagalassos. At least the carcasses of four equids are represented in this context. These animals were usually not eaten at this period. It was possible to identify among them a horse and, probably, a donkey. Comparison of metrical data of these remains with reference collections of horse, donkey, mule, and hinny could allow further specific identification and a morphological study of these animals.

Macrobotanical Remains

After setting up the flotation station last week (see July 27-August 2), Thijs Van Thuyne could begin processing the samples this week. Material from occupation layers in the Domestic Area, the Lower Agora, Alexander's Hill, and from the Antoninus Pius sanctuary have been sieved and charred plant remains and charcoal were recovered by flotation. Although all material has to be fully examined in Belgium after the campaign, some samples are already proving to be interesting, especially the sixth (to possibly seventh century) contents of the half dolium buried in the east portico's original fill (second half of the first century A.D.) in room 3 of the Lower Agora - South (see Lower Agora, July 13-19). Next to bone material, charred (e.g. walnut) and even uncharred (e.g. lentil) macroremains were found in it in relatively high amounts, pointing to somewhat special preservation conditions. The dolium may have been used as a kind of refuse bin during later phases of occupation, but further research is needed.

Extensive flotation has also been carried on samples from the late Roman to early Byzantine mansion (Domestic Area) excavated in the past two years. Most of the material should be considered as kitchen or table refuse. Only Room 28 (a vaulted room to the north of private courtyard XXV, mentioned in Domestic Area, August 3-9) yielded a different seed assemblage. The macroremains can be divided here into several groups: cereals, legumes, woody plants with edible fruits, oil plants, herbs and aromatic plants, weeds from cultivated fields, plants of disturbed areas, wetland and water plants, as well as grass- and meadowland plants. The last four categories, especially, were fairly well represented in the samples, indicating that they probably originate from animal droppings. The question is whether they are just mere droppings or whether the droppings were processed into dung cakes, for later use as fuel, which still is a common practise in some villages of the region. The vaulted room could have been used as a small stable during its final occupation phase (sixth century) or as a storage room for dried dung cakes.

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