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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The archaeological survey team
The area surveyed in 2002
Geologists at work
Part of the area to be surveyed in 2003

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

Sagalassos Survey

Geology of the District


Prospection for ores and ancient mining sites
Detailed prospection for ores and ancient extraction sites. Surveys and excavations at Sagalassos have produced within the city many iron smelting and working slags within the city, especially in the southwest. Previous prospecting has identified several locations in the territory of Sagalassos with the potential for ore extraction for iron production: in the limestones of the Lycean nappes just north of the city and in the olistostrome deposits of the Bey DaglarI massif. Around the latter, many traces of ore extraction (including a quarry) and metalworking have been found.

Neotectonic research
Archeological evidence shows that the ancient city of Sagalassos has been struck by a number of serious earthquakes. The most recent detectable in the archaeological record occurred in the mid-seventh century A.D. after which the city was abandoned. Our work shows that the city was most probably situated in the epicenter of this earthquake and that the fault is likely within its territory. In the 2002 neotectonic survey, we used satellite imagery in combination with the analysis of the Digital Elevation Model to identify potentially active faults in the area.


  • Prospection for ores and ancient mining sites
    We'll investigate the distribution of mineralisation in the Bey DaglarI massif and in the Lycean nappes to identify additional ore extraction and metalworking sites in these areas.

  • Neotectonic research
    Our work in and around the territory aims at identifying faults that may be responsible for the devastating earthquake that struck Sagalassos in the seventh century A.D.

Landscape Evolution


The overall aim of the geomorphological research is the reconstruction of the physical environment of the territory of Sagalassos during the different phases of occupation, with an emphasis on the last 5,000 years.

Our study of the physical landscape has been and still is mainly focused on:

  • detailed geomorphological survey of the area to detect and localize forms, deposits, and processes from the periods during which archaeologically detectable men have lived in the area.
  • detailed study of the evolution of the slopes and valley bottoms. The evaluation of the human impact is our main concern while assembling and interpreting these data. This information is crucial to understand the absence of settlements in specific areas.
  • study of the location of different types of archaeological sites from a geomorphological viewpoint to see how the landscape affected placement of settlements.

Based on the archaeological surveys of the territory--geomorphologists have participated in all these surveys since 1993--we've concentrated our fieldwork on the Gravgaz Basin, the Aglasun Cay valley, the Aglasun-ÇanaklI OvasI, and Sagalassos and its immediate surroundings.


The valley of the Aglasun CayI and the Aglasun-ÇanaklI OvasI

The valley of the Aglasun ÇayI and the northern part of the Aglasun-ÇanaklI OvasI belong to the catchment area of the city of Sagalassos and are the main focus area of our research. Fieldwork here will concentrate on the detailed morphological and current landscape characteristics, including the field terraces, with emphasis on the late Antique period. This means a lot of walking. Where appropriate, we'll take cores, and we'll study existing rock and soil sections. We'll also collaborate with the archeological survey team on sites where they consider that a geomorphological approach can contribute in interpreting its location and characteristics.

In the northern part of the Aglasun-ÇanaklI OvasI we'll examine exposures in existing and the new clay pits (clay mining is always in progress). Our strategy will be determined by datings of the deposits studied during 2002 (radiocarbon datings are now in progress). Corings are planned in the northern part of the Ova.

Our work in the southern part of the Aglasun-ÇanaklI OvasI will focus on comparison of the late Holocene evolution in the northern Ova-Plain, set in the catchment area of Sagalassos, versus the southern Ova-Plain. Therefore reconnaissance corings are also planned in this area.

In the Gravgaz Basin

The Gravgaz area is considered the key area for palaeo-environmental reconstruction. It has been studied during several field surveys, and we now have an important data base with sedimentological and palynological data. These data are constantly integrated. It is our intention to fill these gaps in our data this year.

Evaluation of recent climatic impact on the basin's hydrology can be relevant for interpreting the past. During fieldwork in previous years we've also paid attention to the discharge of the springs, the water level in the marsh, etc. We'll continue such observations this campaign.

In the Bereket-KayI-Aksu area

During the archaeological surveys of 1993-1997 in the territory several archaeological sites were discovered and studied in this area. During 2002, we revisited part of this area and evaluated another in the village of Bereket as possibly promising for palaeo-environmental reconstruction. It is a flat valley bottom at the mouth of a valley system with many springs. The current drainage suggests a wet environment in the past. Last year, part of the area was indeed still very wet in spring, but became dry in summer. It is likely that in the past this area was similar to the current Gravgaz marsh (see above). We expect it has a thick accumulation of sediments with some layers rich in organic (and thus datable) material. Such sites are rare in the area so that they have to be studied in detail. We plan to extract reconnaissance cores (at least one deeper core) in order to evaluate the sediment characteristics. Samples will be taken to the laboratory in Belgium for analysis.

Suburban Survey


We began in 1999 undertaking intensive, systematic surveys within a radius of 5 km (ca.1 hour walking) around Sagalassos to gather information on the exploitation and occupation of this suburban zone. The city was, in its earliest phases, dependent on this area for its subsistence and raw materials, and its growth as a regional metropolis must have entailed important consequences--residential and economic--for its immediate surroundings. This evolution is probably reflected in the archaeological record, and the collection of this evidence and its study and interpretation are the main goals of our surveys. Equally important are two periods for which evidence remains scanty: before Sagalassos developed as a metropolis (pre-Hellenistic) and following its abandonment (after the mid-seventh century A.D.).


The 2003 survey has two aims:

  • Survey in the hill flanks southeast of Sagalassos
    We're curious to see if we'll find the same exploitation and habitation pattern here that has emerged from the hilly area southwest of the city--rich villas, gardens and intesively cultivated plots, olive yards (or at least olive presses), and monumental tombs--or if this area was put to other uses during the heyday of the city.

  • Survey in the valley of Aglasun
    Partial survey of this valley in 2001 yielded a mass of new information. Especially of importance is the discovery of the first pre-Hellenistic pottery ever found in the neighbourhood of Sagalassos. Further surveying should shed light on this period. Concerning the classical periods, we have evidence of an important road system here, flanked by monumental tombs, and some evidence for spreading manure on fields as fertilizer. However, we did not identify farms or villas which we might expect here since the very fertile Aglasun valley must have been intensively exploited from late Hellenistic time onward to support the increasing population of Sagalassos, a substantial part of which was not involved in food production. Surveys could clarify whether or not farmers commuted daily to and from the city. Finally, in 2002, we gathered some information--pottery and architectural remains--on the region's fate after the abandonment of Sagalassos. With more data procured through surveying, it may be possible to make some statements on the nature settlement Aglasun valley during this long period (mid-seventh century to recent times).

The previous three seasons taught us that surveying in a too detailed way (with survey members only two meters apart) is time-consuming and the labour input is not in balance with the results obtained. Since last year, we survey at an interval distance of 12.5 meters, which is rather wide, but allows us to cover a large area in a limited period of time. Whenever find densities rise (ceramic or architectural remains), the distance is narrowed down to five or six meters. The same strategy will be followed in 2003. Archaeological material (mostly pottery) will be quantified and sampled and all architectural remains will be photographed and measured. The data collected in this way will be added to data from previous surveys in a GIS mapping program.

Less Well Documented Periods


The archaeological surveys in the territory of Sagalassos since 1993 have provided a first insight into the settlement history in this region from the Epipalaeolithic until recent times. However, all periods were not equally well documented. Therefore, in 2002 a pottery survey was carried out in the ancient territory of Sagalassos on some sites we surveyed in 1993-1997 that had a high potential for yielding material from the missing periods, especially early (pre-Hellenistic, but post-prehistoric) or very late (post-Early Byzantine) finds. The selection of these sites to be resurveyed was made based on known finds, specific architectural remains or site location characteristics. The aim of this survey was to gain information on the poorly documented periods in the region's settlement history: the Middle Bronze Age to Early Iron Age (ca. 2000-350 B.C.) and the post-Early Byzantine period (650-present). As a result of this survey, we distinguished seven new coarse-ware groups, four early and three late. When mapped by location, they may offer new insights in protohistorical and medieval settlement of the territory of Sagalassos.


In 2003, we'll continue surveying to add further details to the information gathered last year.

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