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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The three nymphaea along the Lower Agora's north side. Below is the Severan (early third century A.D.) one in the foreground, behind it the brick facade of the Trajanic fountain (early second century). Above these two, the western part of the Hadrianic nymphaeum is being measured by the architects' team. The remains of the Odeion can be seen behind the nymphaeum's partially exposed facade.
Julian Richard sits on the stone platform with the architectural elements from the Hadrianic nymphaeum.

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

Hadrianic Nymphaeum: July 4-8, 2004

Architect Günnür Caliskan (Istanbul Technical University) supervised a crane that began removing the uppermost blocks of the impressive Hadrianic fountain on the terrace just north of the Lower Agora. The removal took place after each block had been recorded with the theodolite by the architects team supervised by Karel Paul (Center Lemaire of the KULeuven, Belgium) and assisted by topographers Eveline Schippers and Raf Van den Bergh (both De Naeyer Institute, St.-Katelijne-Waver) and architect Mustafa Cekiç (Istanbul Technical University).

Many architectural fragments of the fountain that were lying in the top of the pile have been identified, measured, drawn, and removed. An inventory of stones is now being written by Julian Richard (KULeuven, Belgium), who is preparing his Ph.D. on the statuary display of nymphaea (monumental fountains) in the eastern Mediterranean. We also collected a number of small finds consisting of mainly ceramics from the top soil and the earthquake destruction layers.

During all those activities, the top of three more niches of the back wall of the nymphaeum were exposed, along with the upper part of the left projecting side wing of this two-storeyed U-shaped monumental construction, which can be dated by its architectural restoration in the style of the second half of the reign of Hadrian (ca. A.D. 128-138). These finds have allowed us to take some preliminary measurements of the whole structure. As mentioned last year, the fountain's drawing basin (3.10 m wide; 0.90 m deep) was flanked by two projecting side wings (2.35 m and 2.80 m wide) and could be reached by a flight of eight steps. The backside of the basin was formed by a podium interrupted nearly every 3 m by pilasters decorated with representations of Muses and women carrying water vessels. On top of this richly decorated podium, the lowest floor of the building still stands to a height of at least 2.30 m. Between the projecting side wings, the building consists of a series of three rectangular niches: from west to east they are about 1.93 m, 2.58 m, and 2.10 m wide and are .40 m deep in the back wall. Taken from the front edge of the podium, which carried a facade of projecting columns alternating with two projecting wall sections with round niches, measurements are as follows: width from west to east 2.80 m and 2.05 m; width of the niche: ca. 1.55 m; depth ca. 0.95 m; depth from the edge of the podium: ca. 1.70 m. These figures bring the building's total length to ca. 17.20 m.

All this evidence also shows that the head of a giant statue of a veiled woman discovered last year was not standing inside a large semicircular central niche, but must have occupied the central rectangular space of roughly 2.58 m by 1.60 m. This tells us that the giant hand, also found inside the basin, most likely did not belong to a second giant male statue. In fact, the dimensions of the female head suggest a statue with a total height of ca 4.50 m while seated, or 5 to 6 m if standing. The head did not represent the empress Sabina, Hadrian's spouse, but must be a symbolic representation (of the city, a virtue, less probably a goddess). The normal-sized Poseidon and Satyr statues found next to her must have occupied the right curved and rectangular niches. These statues belong to the normal repertoire of aquatic divinities displayed in nymphaea.

The exposure of the building's western extremity has also revealed its connection to the slightly older Odeion behind it. The Odeion is probably Domitianic or Trajanic, and its rather plain facade has been covered by the fountain. In fact, its facade continues some 4.25 m west of the Hadrianic nymphaeum with an ashlar wall composed of large rusticated blocks with drafted edges. On its western extremity, the left wing of the nymphaeum cuts into the Odeion facade and must have been at least partially dismantled for the nymphaeum's construction. In the east, however, there was a wedge-shaped space between both structures. The reason for this was explained in a recent Ph.D. presented by Femke Martens (KULeuven, Belgium), who showed that during the late Roman republican period, when Sagalassos had become part of the province of Asia, a new layout of the central part of the city around the Upper Agora was planned shortly after 100 B.C. This layout gave the whole area a more regular appearance. However, only the Bouleuterion (council house) was finished then, whereas most other structures with the same orientation were completed during the later first century B.C. and the early to middle Imperial period possibly because of the Mithridatic wars and the problems with the Cilician and Pamphylian pirates of the first century B.C. The Odeion was the southernmost structure of the upper city following this layout and orientation. The Hadrianic nymphaeum, like other structures around and to the south of the Lower Agora, followed a more regular grid system that was established in late republican and Imperial times. The nymphaeum hid the rather plain facade of the Odeion that formed the northern vista for visitors approaching the Lower Agora by means of the colonnaded street. Creating a wedge between the nymphaeum and the Odeion also obscured the two different orientations of the middle and lower cities where they intersected.

We expect many more interesting finds during the coming weeks on this site north of the Lower Agora of Sagalassos, which will hopefully reveal the identity of the giant female statue and the building lord.

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