|View of the excavations in the southern section of the Lower Agora's east side. In the background, left, the street in front of the baths is being excavated. The south wall of room 3 of the early Byzantine dwelling, right, is being treated by the conservation team (pointing and capping).|
|The plain columns and entablature of the east portico of the Lower Agora|
|The sixth-century A.D. jar hidden between the pavement slabs of room 2 in the early Byzantine dwelling|
|Photos courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project. Click on images to enlarge.||
|by Marc Waelkens|
The Lower Agora - South: July 20-26, 2003
In the southern section along the east side of the Lower Agora, excavations continued under the supervision of Toon Putzeys (KULeuven), Ertu Ergürer (University of Erzurum), and Yaprak Özkünü (University of Istanbul). Here, the early Byzantine dwelling composed of at least four rooms was further investigated. In the northernmost room (room 4) we removed only destruction layer 3, mainly composed of architectural elements from the structures around the northeast corner of the Lower Agora but very poor in artifacts. For now, we have to wait until the difference in level between the southern and northern section of the excavations in this area is reduced further, in order to avoid a collapse of the trench's north profile. Therefore all activities concentrated on the further exposure of the street between the second-century A.D. eastern portico with attached shops and the west facade of the bath complex on the one hand, and a sondage inside room 3 on the other hand. The former almost reached the pavement slabs of the street; the latter was completed. Building elements of this portico show that it presented the same smooth entablature with a pulvinated (cushion-shaped), but otherwise smooth frieze, and an undecorated cornice, as on the western portico and the Trajanic nymphaeum along the agora's north side.
Architects Nilay Göçküncü (Istanbul Technical University) and Derya Güleç (Middle Eastern Technical University, Ankara) were cleaning the pavement slabs of the east portico in room 2 of the early Byzantine dwelling before drawing it when they discovered a completely preserved small jar. Locally produced and dated to the sixth century, it had been hidden and fixed for an unknown reason in an opening between the slabs. We collected its contents for flotation next week.
The excavations here show that the Lower Agora was completely rearranged and provided with a nymphaeum on its north side and a contemporary northeastern approach containing a curved terrace wall with six busts of gods and a street fountain (see introduction). Shortly afterward, the western and eastern Ionic porticoes (the latter with a row of shops and a street behind it) were constructed. The whole architecture of this building phase is rather smooth and contrasts sharply with the opulent Corinthian architecture that would characterize Sagalassos' constructions from the reign of Hadrian onward. The whole layout seems to have been changed on the east side around the turn of the fourth to the fifth century, when the east shops underwent a first transformation. In the course of the sixth century, probably after an earthquake which destroyed a major part of the city around A.D. 500, the eastern shops were covered by a dwelling with at least four rooms. During the same period, the northern part of the northeast access to the square as well as the street in front of the baths were raised and replaced by a walking level in beaten earth. On top of it, two guard rooms were erected on a terrace overlooking the square and controlling its northeastern access. Both rooms, as well as the dwelling below them, may have been abandoned before the middle of the seventh century. Yet the west portico, subdivided into small shops and eateries (excavated in previous years; see introduction), continued to be occupied until the mid-seventh-century seismic catastrophe. The slaughtering of cattle near the former street fountain clearly illustrates that living conditions in and around the square may have declined considerably in early Byzantine times. After the seventh-century earthquake, a Christian cemetery was established in the debris along the square's west side (see introduction), while debris along its eastern edge was used to create a slope for carrying water to the promontory with the Antoninus Pius (?) sanctuary, where occupation continued until the mid-Byzantine period.