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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The southeast corner of room XLIV with the foundations clearly visible
The reused late Hellenistic-early Imperial ash urn decorated with an ivy wreath in the base of the indented pilaster in the room's southwest corner
The stone with the Christian monogram found inside room XXXI

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

Domestic Area: August 1-5, 2004

This week we continued excavation of room XLIV in the northeast corner of the urban villa. The room is located on the second floor level immediately to the west of the large reception hall through which it is accessible. The technology of the carefully built walls--mortared rubble sections alternating with bricklayers--is identical to that of the reception hall. The presence of pilasters in the four corners of the room is also identical (in our case indented, see Domestic Area, July 25-29). These carried the vaulted roof made of Roman concrete. The whole room, of which the walls stand nearly 5 m high, was filled with destruction and erosional debris. In its original state, the vaulted room must have had a height of about six meters. Thus far, we think that its only light well is a large window located above the door leading to reception hall XXII, which had a large window in its south wall that produced a panoramic view of the lower city and the valleys around it. After the abandonment of this part of the villa, both the reception hall and room XLIV were stripped of their wall and floor coverings. These were probably made of marble veneer and marble or opus sectile (shaped tiles of colored marble) slabs, as no fragments of wall plaster or mosaics were found. As in the adjacent reception hall under the destruction layers, the excavation team only encountered the foundations and the foundation deposit of the room instead of a floor. On the long walls, the former formed a kind of bench that filled the recess between the dented corner pilasters. J. Poblome tentatively dated ceramics from the foundation deposit to the fourth century, which perfectly suits the proposed date of the transformation of the original villa into a palatial mansion by the provincial aristocracy of late antiquity. This aristocracy, known as the proteuontes, henceforth ruled the cities from these types of houses. Last week, the remains of an osteotheca (ash urn) were found reused within the limestone base of the southeast corner pilaster. This week another ostotheca fragment decorated with an ivy wreath (dating to late Hellenistic/early Imperial times) was found reused in the base of the southwest corner pilaster.

Later in the week, we started digging in the neighboring room XXXI. We continued working in this room, of which the southwest corner had already been partially exposed two years ago. The room is remarkably similar to room XLIV, as its walls consist of the same material: mortared rubble sections alternating with layers of brick and tuff blocks which were used to produce the same kind of indented pilasters in the corners. These pilasters helped to carry a vaulted concrete roof. Even the size of both rooms is identical, as they measure about 6m by 5.50 m. Clearly both rooms must have had a function related to that of the reception hall, which is the only space from which they were accessible. The fact that the three rooms show the same type of wall technique and that they all suffered a complete stripping of both wall and floor coverings suggests that these were more than "private" rooms. Contextual analysis of the rich material found at the level of the now missing floor may still produce answers as to their function, although most of the original content was certainly removed. An interesting find inside the destruction debris was the discovery of a stone with a Christian motive: a "Chi-Rho" referring to the first two letters of Christ. It was placed between the characters "Alpha" and "Omega", suggesting that Christ was the beginning and end of everything.

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