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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The room with the curved and oblique recesses seen from the northwest
The curved niche in the same room

A tile fragment from the Roman Baths with an inscription in cursive characters

Dionys Van Gemert inpects one of the vaulted rooms below caldarium II

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

The Roman Baths: August 3-9, 2003

Roman Baths team 1 continued its work in the northeastern part of the complex, freeing of rubble the large semicircular niche in the room's southern wall, which was partly excavated last year. It has a diameter of 3.67 m and a maximum depth of about 1.95 m, so it isn't perfectly semicircular. The western part of the wall consists of bricks, followed by a part consisting of limestone and pumice blocks in a mortar bed. After this stony part, there is a void (possibly a doorway). Finally the niche is completed by another brick wall. Further excavation is needed to determine the niche's exact nature and function. The wall with it abuts one of the piers of the room with the ashlar piers (see report July 27-August 2). The latter is a different room, separated from the space with the niche by a newly discovered north-south wall. After a mere 0.86 m, this new wall makes an oblique angle to the east, which may be the beginning of another niche or recess. Again, future excavation should reveal the exact structure and function of the latter.

We also further exposed the two ashlar piers along the eastern edge of the excavated area. Large wall plaster segments of good quality were still attached to them. At certain points its height is already nearly 2.50 m and it continues down to floor level. The conservation team (Eric Risser) treated the plaster or covered it for treatment in the near future. Around the same piers, we found lots of pieces of wall veneer, mainly green-white, yellow, and white marble. Other finds included pottery, water tubes, metal clamps and nails, animal bone, some glass, and a few tesserae.

Between the room with the large semi-circular niche and the frigidarium, we exposed more of the service corridor we discovered last year, but have yet to find its eastern end. We had to remove large architectural fragments here using a crane. Farther southeast, in the central part of the frigidarium the crane removed 23 big ashlar blocks in order to facilitate the excavation of this area during the campaign of next year.

The second team, working to the west, concentrated on the western edge of the trench, removing an approximate 65 to 70 m of debris here, more or less what was calculated according to our time schedule. The room's north wall doesn't simply continue straight to the east: 0.95 m thick brick-and-rubble pillars protrude from it. Thus far we've found two such pillars. One forms the northeast corner of the apodyterium, the other one is nearly 12 m farther east and rests on a large ashlar block, the first to be found in this room. As we found no division between the room and the apodyterium, it seems that this changing room continued at least 12 m farther to the east and is much larger than previously assumed. To the south, the rather thin wall separating the private part of caldarium II from the apodyterium, still standing 4.30 m high, also has a brick-and-rubble pillar at its eastern extremity corresponding with the first pillar protruding from the apodyterium. Immediately west of it a vaulted connection between the rooms had been blocked in a later phase.

Finds were more abundant this week. We found a few thousand glass tesserae, especially near the presumed eastern edge of the southern apodyterium wall. Other finds included crustae (e.g. a very small fragment of the opus sectile floor), metal clamps and nails, more ceramics as in the layers above (but less water tube fragments), including several fragments of Sagalassos Red Slip Ware (e.g. handles and oil lamps). One brick tile contained a five-line inscription in cursive characters fired with the tile itself. We also found a well-preserved coin of the Roman emperor Probus (276-283).

Another activity in the Roman Baths was a check-up of the five vaulted rooms at ground floor level that were excavated in previous years (see introduction). Two of these rooms, a vestibule giving access to the upper floor, and a sixth-century public, had always been accessible and some damage to their vaults' outer brick facing had been noticed. The other three rooms, two of them supporting caldarium II plus a sixth-century addition to support a new praefurnium, had been completely walled up. Dionys Van Geert and Agnes Miles (both KULeuven and Triconsult), who had studied the vaults' stability in 1999, came back to inspect the situation in all vaulted rooms. While some minor repairs were needed in the first two rooms, the condition of the other three was excellent and their brick vaults, erected shortly after A.D. 120, needed no further interventions.

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