Home | Archaeology Magazine | More Digs | AIA
Archaeology's Interactive Dig
July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Arrows indicate areas of the Lower Agora we'll investigate this summer
The vaulted street fountain in the northern terrace wall

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

Lower Agora: Introduction

We began the excavation of the Lower Agora in 1992. This second major city square must already have existed in late Hellenistic times. Its rectangular shape and pavement may go back to the reign of Augustus. The Southwest Agora gate, built during the reign of Tiberius (A.D. 14-37), may have already occupied roughly its later position at the time of its construction. In any case, this elegant U-shaped Corinthian gateway was rebuilt in its current position at a later date and with somewhat shorter lateral wings. This probably happened during refurbishment of the north, west, and east sides of the square which may have started in the later first century A.D. and culminated during the reign of Trajan. This refurbishment included the construction of the eastern and western porticoes in the Ionic order, the reconstruction and repair of the Apollo Klarios temple on a terrace to the west (after Vespasian, also the first temple for the emperor's cult), the construction of the Odeion on a terrace to the north of the square, and the construction of a first Trajanic nymphaeum on the north side of the square itself. During refurbishment two new roads were built. One road was bounded to the west by a curved terrace wall that included a simple vaulted fountain surrounded by six busts of the city's major gods. It gave access to the agora by means of a curved stairway from the northeast. A second road was located between the shops of the east portico and the western facade of the Roman Baths. Around A.D. 200, under the Severian emperors, a new more elaborate nymphaeum was constructed just 0.40 m in front of the Trajanic one. The curved terrace wall of the square's northeast access was extended to join this new building. At some later date a kind of gateway must have been built over its stairway.

After the early sixth-century A.D. earthquake, the slabs of the pavement of the northeast access to the square were removed, leaving the area open for later encroachment by shops or dwellings. The western portico was repaired reusing most of the original building elements and transformed into a row of eateries and shops that remained in use until the mid-seventh century A.D. earthquake. The internal layout of the eastern portico, however, was completely changed. At its northern end, the newly arranged spaces included two rooms (and a cistern) for sentries guarding the agora and its surroundings. They also included a six-room complex in the central part, and two to three shops to the south. However, all these new constructions were abandoned and eventually used as dumping places before the seventh-century catastrophe. Contextual analysis of the finds within these early Byzantine structures is being performed to reveal functional patterns. The street level between east portico and Roman Baths was raised by using earthquake debris of the sixth-century quake.

During the fifth or sixth century, the sanctuary of Apollo was transformed into a church. In the early seventh century, a graveyard was established in the small passage between the west portico and the temenos wall of the sanctuary. The mid-seventh century earthquake destroyed almost all of the buildings around the Lower Agora. After this catastrophe, the debris was never removed from the square or from the stairway leading to it. Instead, in this debris along the square's western edge, some 50 simple graves were dug for 74 adults and infants. In the earthquake debris over the eastern portico, a water supply system was laid out. We cannot yet date this system, but it can perhaps be associated with the newly identified mid-Byzantine occupation phase at Sagalassos (late seventh to tenth-eleventh century).

During the 2004 season, we will shift our attention to the southeastern and southern areas bordering the Lower Agora and extending up to the Roman Baths in the following manner:

  1. Complete the excavation of the southern part of the eastern portico, including, where possible, soundings below the late Roman floor level, in order to reconstruct the chronological evolution of the portico and document older phases of use of the structure and its rooms.

  2. Continue the excavation behind the eastern portico and in front of the southwestern corner of the Roman Baths, in order to study possible further encroachment phenomena on the road laid out between the portico and the Baths building.

  3. Initiate the excavation along the south side of the Lower Agora.

  4. Possibly remove further sections of the early/mid-Byzantine water channel, which are laid out over the remains of the shops. They may be removed in order to examine the older strata and architectural remains, but only after detailed photography and architectural planning.

  5. Continue the contextual analysis of the various rooms and spaces excavated in these areas.

See plan of the Lower Agora.

Previous pageNext page

InteractiveDig is produced by ARCHAEOLOGY Magazine
© 2010 Archaeological Institute of America

Home | Archaeology Magazine | More Digs | AIA