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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Arrows indicate areas of the Domestic Area we plan to excavate this season

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

Domestic Area: Introduction

Since 1995, we have been excavating the Domestic Area, situated east of a street that connected the central and the upper part of the town. During the previous campaigns, two housing units built on successive terraces were tentatively identified. At least one of them may go back to the second century A.D. and must have belonged to a prominent family. Possibly during the fourth-fifth century, the house was converted into a large-scale urban villa. It must have belonged to one of the provincial aristocratic families. These families imitated the palatial mansions of the emperors and conducted most of the local and provincial politic affairs directly from their lavish homes, which had large reception halls and dining rooms. At that point in time, if not before, this urban villa also had a private bath complex.

Probably as a result of the early sixth century A.D. earthquake and the following plague of A.D. 542, the status of the previous owners dropped. The complex was divided into two or even three smaller units. Some parts of the complex may have been abandoned; some of the rooms remained in use on the upper level. The spaces around the previous "private" courtyard XV became more secluded and were mostly used for storage and "rural activities." Also, the large rooms to the south became isolated from the rest of the house. Occupation continued into the seventh century A.D., when Sagalassos was struck by a devastating earthquake. After final abandonment, the remainder of the structure collapsed and was buried by erosion.

The residential rooms on the highest level give a clear idea of the rich architecture in the later building history of the house. 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. Thus, the excavations of the domestic area add much to our picture of the life and continuous wealth of the local elite at Sagalassos into the seventh century A.D.

Our goals for 2004 can be summarized as follows:

  1. Completing the excavation of various rooms and spaces, including the following:

    -   rooms XXV, XXXIII and XXXXIV, which include the cobbled courtyard and the utilitarian and/or private quarters to which it gave access toward the east.
    -   the eastern half of Room XVI, depending on both completion of the consolidation of the walls and vaults of the vaulted corridors on the house's intermediate level and the general safety condition of the area.
    -   room XV, which may originally have formed part of the private bathing facilities, but may have been later re-arranged.

  2. Extending the excavation in the northern part of the house, where possibly one of the entrances to the complex should be located. We will focus attention on this aspect of the house, along with the series of rooms north of the reception hall and of the private bathing unit.

  3. Extending the excavation in the southern and lower section of the house. In part of this section, we identified a utilitarian area along with a substantial dining room. Detailed study of the stratigraphy of this area and its architectural remains should reveal the relationship of the original housing units to the villa and how they might have merged with it. Further excavation should reveal the nature of the floor level in the large rooms and determine the amount of damage by erosion.

  4. Documenting possible older building phases of the large-scale urban villa.

  5. Documenting the destruction and abandonment processes of the early Byzantine villa.

  6. Continuing the contextual analysis of the house and its many rooms.

See plan of the Domestic Area.

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