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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
A picture taken of the Baths' northern edge from the Upper Agora toward the end of the week
The eastern extremity of the large apodyterium with the curved niche in the background
The marble-clad seats in the apodyterium's first recess

The marble statue found in the eastern part of the large apodyterium

The well-preserved heating system along the south wall of caldarium II

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

The Roman Baths: August 10-16, 2003

The Roman Baths team 1, led by Markku Corremans and Erdal Ünal, continued working along the northeast section of the huge baths, in the "room with the curved niche." The room's east wall has the start of another curved niche, made of bricks, that at a later stage was reinforced in the central part by an additional pier, possibly because of problems with the roof. In the room's southeast corner is a curved niche, mostly built of brick (3.67 m wide and 1.95 m deep) that abuts one of the ashlar piers of the 'northern ashlar pier room' next to the frigidarium. Farther west, the same south wall has a rectangular niche (3.85 m wide and 1.55 m deep), with a door in its middle leading to service corridor 5 separating it from the frigidarium. This room is almost certainly the continuation of a room excavated by the Roman Baths team 2 farther west, to the east of the apodyterium that was partially excavated in 2002 (see introduction and August 3-9).

After five weeks of removing one square cubic meter of debris after another, this second team, supervised by Johan Claeys and Mustafa Kiremitçi, finally encountered clear structures inside the building. They worked both along the east side of the apodyterium, in the adjoining space east of it (which seems not to have been separated from it), and on the eastern section of the private part of caldarium II (see August 3-9). Along the north wall of the room immediately east of the apodyterium, and only separated from it by a 0.95 m protruding pilaster in the north wall, a 3.85 m wide rectangular niche was uncovered, bordered to the east by an identical pilaster. It also seems to contain a door opening in its middle. Although its depth (0.95 m) is considerably smaller than that of the rectangular niche in the south wall of the "room with the curved niche" (Roman Baths 1, see above), its identical width of 3.85 m most probably is not a coincidence.

Directly east of the first protruding pilaster in Roman Baths 2, a sondage inside the rectangular niche of the north wall, revealed some perfectly preserved marble wall veneer at a height of ca 1.30 m above the expected floor level. At a depth of 0.25 m benches of similar dimensions as the ones exposed last year in the apodyterium were found. Only their upper part was exposed, but it was still covered with marble veneer, made of reused marble revetment.

A second sondage on the eastern edge of the same niche, exposed not only the same kind of benches (here without marble revetment), but also a second bench (foot support) covered by mortar. In front of it a floor section was still covered with marble slabs. One of them clearly is made of gray-veined Proconnesian marble (from Marmara Island, Turkey). This was the cheapest building marble available in Roman times, but before now we had never encountered it at Sagalassos, despite its immense popularity in the ports of Perge and Side on the Mediterranean coast 110 km to the south. This could be because of the 1,450 m difference in altitude which one had to overcome from the coast to Sagalassos, which therefore imported more expensive inland marbles from Dokimeion and Aphrodisias). South of these slabs, we exposed an opus sectile panel made of larger octagonals, squares and triangles than those of the same type of floor in the apodyterium section unearthed last year. Both sondages produced masses of marble veneer fragments (crustae) testifying to the room's lavish decoration. The small eastern sondage alone has already produced seven boxes of fragments. In previous seasons 40 tons of wall veneer was recovered from caldarium I, all imported from Dokimeion (at Iscehisar near Afyon), one of the finest and most expensive marbles of the past, but more accessible to Sagalassos than the Proconnesian quarries. South of the richly decorated rectangular niche with its benches, two complete Corinthian pilaster capitals in Docimian marble, and fragments of two others were exposed. They all have different shapes and even different dimensions and seem to date to the fourth century, when the whole bath complex underwent considerable refurbishment.

The discovery of the marble covered benches on the north wall of the room directly east of last year's apodyterium, and of the similar opus sectile floor, make it clear that this new room also was an apodyterium, of even larger dimensions than that discovered in 2002. That no wall separating the two spaces can be identified and that the width of their rectangular niches is identical, suggests that one is dealing here with a single giant apodyterium of nearly 42.5 m (east-west) by 15 m (north-south). When the system of niches is continued along the east-west axis, the niches of the two areas seem to connect. The room thus possibly contained a total of eight niches--some rectangular, some semicircular--four along each of the long walls. At the moment, two rectangular and one semicircular niche have been excavated. Two other rectangular niches are partially unearthed. If the hypothesis of a gigantic apodyterium still stands after next week's excavations, it can be compared in length with that of the Faustina Baths at Miletos.

This apodyterium apparently also was decorated with sculpture. The lower part of a small statue composed of two bare legs and a fringed cloak draped over a lekythos, possibly representing Aphrodite, was found, although broken into four fragments.

Meanwhile, excavation also proceeded in the eastern part of the small private bath area north of caldarium II (see August 3-9). Because the latter room's interior arrangement is completely different (the hypocaust system is under the floor and along the walls, a deeper floor level, etc.), we investigated its connection with the apodyterium and the location of the steps to negotiate the difference in level. A very well preserved part of the wall hypocaust was found. It is still covered with large marble slabs and the hollow space in between is not filled up with debris, which allows a view down to the floor supporting the hypocaust system more than 1.5 m below. On the last day of the week, we exposed an additional (later) part of the eastern wall of this room and located an entrance from the apodyterium of no more than 1.1 m width. Probably the steps between both rooms will be located here.

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