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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos

Kermes oak

Turkey oak

Olive tree

Black pine

Lebanon cedar

Crimean juniper

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

The Forestry Survey: July 6-12, 2003

In previous years we've documented the vegetation history during the Holocene (last ten thousand years) of four valleys around Sagalassos. We did this by analyzing pollen from cores drilled in different parts of the city's territory. These results are now being complemented by the study of macrobotanical remains (wood charcoal, nuts, etc.) in the city excavations, retrieved by means of flotation. Now that we have the settlement history of the whole area well documented, we want to put the two histories--vegetation and settlement--together. One of our goals in this regard is to reconstruct a forestry regeneration model. Developed by Bart Muys, professor of forest engineering at the K.U. Leuven, this model should show the impact of the changing occupation of the region on local forests. Last week we carried out an extensive survey program documenting current forestry; for next year we plan a more detailed study in collaboration with the University of Isparta's Forestry Department.

We already have some data on the trees of ancient Sagalassos and their historical and present-day use:

Kermes oak, Quercus coccifera Ancient function: fuel wood; its presence here in the past is proven by ample palynological evidence

Present-day function: fuel wood; fodder tree (goats that browse on it yield excellent meat)
Turkey oak, Quercus cerris Ancient function: its existence in the region in antiquity is shown by pollen samples

Present-day function: rare tree, used for ballast of plough
Olive tree, Olea europaea Ancient function: production of olive oil for cooking and lamps; its use at Sagalassos for both purposes was confirmed by residue analysis of cooking pots and lamps. Pollen analysis has shown that olive culture was introduced in the area from the early Hellenistic period onward and that it was booming in Roman Imperial times. Olive cultivation ceased around A.D. 650, when the rural population shifted its activities toward goat herding at higher elevations, which was economically less endangered by the first Arab invasions.

Present-day function: olive trees have almost disappeared from the region; oil is imported from elsewhere.
Black pine, Pinus nigra Ancient function: construction material; pollen records from the city's Potters' Quarter and from a manure collector in the Roman Baths indicate that the currently bare slopes above Sagalassos were covered with black pine and cedar forest as late as the seventh century A.D.

Present-day function: construction material (roofs, doors, and windows), furniture
Lebanon cedar, Cedrus libani Ancient function: construction material; cedar wood was used in the fourth-century A.D. renovation of the Neon Library at Sagalassos.

Present-day function: nearly extinct, recent reforestations, no current use
Crimean juniper, Juniperus excelsa Ancient function: juniper timber was also used for the smaller beams in the roof of the fourth-century A.D. repair of the Neon Library.

Present-day function: construction material (in walls of traditional houses)

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