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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Aerial photograph of the Domestic Area
Overview of the Domestic Area (late Roman urban villa)
3-D model of the Domestic Area's stratigraphy

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

The Domestic Area Excavation


We've conducted excavations in the Domestic Area--east of a street that connected the central and the upper parts of the town--since 1995. During the previous campaigns, two houses were identified, built on successive terraces and separated by a small alley. Possibly after the A.D. 500 earthquake, they were merged into a large-scale urban villa. The substantial villa was struck by the devastating earthquake of the mid-seventh century A.D., after which parts of the building may have been cleared of their content before the remainder of the structure collapsed and was buried.

The villa is laid out on three levels rising from west to east. Its northeastern part, on the upper level, contained the a huge reception and dining hall, preceded by a waiting lounge, a vestibule, and an L-shaped corridor, which may have given a direct access to the street. To the south and below, on an intermediate level, were a number of service rooms and tunnels dealing with water supply.

The ground level contained at least two inner courtyards. The westernmost one was surrounded by a number of rooms for craft activities or storage on the west, and by a four-room private bath complex on the north. A fountain separated it in the east from a second and smaller courtyard, still being excavated, which seems to have been surrounded by private rooms. For the moment, the villa contains 36 rooms on three levels.

The residential rooms excavated on the highest level give a clear idea of the rich architecture--walls, vaults, floors, and decoration--at a late stage of the building history of the house. On the other hand, the utilitarian rooms continue to yield important information on the food habits and the diet of its household, as well as on the pottery used by them. In this way, the excavations of the domestic area add much to our picture of the life and continuous wealth of the local elite at Sagalassos as late as the sixth century A.D. Yet during the last occupation phase (after the A.D. 500 earthquake), the lower part of the house had a rural character, whereas the upper level remained occupied, though in a less opulent way than before, until the seventh century.

Aims of the 2003 excavations

During the 2003 season, we'll concentrate on the southern and lower parts of the housing complex, with the following goals:

  • Extend the excavation of the cobbled courtyard (Room XXV) and the utilitarian or private quarters to which it gave access toward the south and east. The aim is find out if the eastern limit of the house, which was reached in 2002 in Room XXII, extends along this line toward the south.

  • Extend the excavation of the peristyle courtyard (Room XIII) and the utilitarian or private quarters it serviced to the south.

  • Extend the excavation in the southwestern corner of the lower and intermediate sections of the house, which have already been identified as a utilitarian area.

  • Document possible older building phases of the southern part of the villa.

  • Document the destruction and abandonment of the villa in early Byzantine times.

Many of the walls will be treated by the conservation team, so the final selection of where to excavate will be discussed and decided with them on the spot. In view of the state of some walls (earthquake debris), it might be necessary for safety reasons to remove parts of some after documentation. As far as possible they will be rebuilt later.

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