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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
View of frigidarium 2 from the southeast. The semi-circular recess in its south wall is visible in the foreground. In the background are the second and third rectangular recesses in the north wall.
The curved north side of the mortared rubble wall section flanking the eastern edge of the third rectangular recess in the frigidarium's north wall
Wall veneer covering the side of the excavated bathtub
The water channel running in front of the tubs along the south side of the dressing room
The Egyptianizing drawing on a marble veneer slab from dressing room 2

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

Roman Baths: July 25-29, 2004

Frigidarium 2 (Roman Baths 1)
This week the same team continued excavating the cold bathing room (frigidarium, F2, see plan July 8-15). Because this part of the room could be entered through a large vaulted access in the north, which in this direction extended beyond the normal position of the north wall, we had to expand the excavation area. If this wall were symmetrical to that along the south side of the large space composed of frigidarium 2 and apodyterium 2 (see July 15-22), it would have contained (from west to east) three rectangular and a half-rounded recess. The vaulted entrance is a bit to the north of the supposed third rectangular recess. The western springing of the arch is still partially preserved, but the eastern springing is no longer in place. Instead we found a mortared rubble wall with a visible concrete infill that is immediately north of the supposed southern springing of the vault. The location tells us that it had never been visible. Therefore, it may have bordered the lower right part of the vault. However, the part of the wall directly below this section did represent a real mortared rubble face; thus, the support of the eastern extremity of the vault still remains unclear. This lower, visible part of the wall continued both west and east. Its north exterior edge, however, is curved, although it is supported by an oblique straight wall section. The wall stucture means that the third recess from the west in the north wall had a peculiar shape which was adapted to the vaulted entrance to the cold-water room. However, during the last day of the week we found a semicircular niche corresponding to that in the south wall at the expected location. The niche proved that the arrangement of the frigidarium's long walls was perfectly symmetrical except for the third rectangular recess from the west. As usual, pottery, fragments of water pipes, metal clamps and nails, mosaic pieces, marble revetment slabs, and some animal bone were found inside the destruction level, as well as a nice fragment of a glass container. We also found lots of architectural fragments, including column bases, masonry blocks, and part of an Ionic capital.

Apodyterium 2 (Roman Baths 2)
In dressing room 2, we focused mainly on the south wall, composed from west to east of two rectangular and one semicircular recess (the latter already being exposed in 2003). Last week we reported the discovery of a small cold-water bath in the central (rectangular) recess in the south wall, excavated only until the upper level of its parapet. Excavation showed that the dressing room had no sitting benches on the opposite side of those found along the north wall last year, but that the room contained rectangular bathtubs for cold water there. The excavation of the first (west) rectangular recess of the dressing room's south wall, which had also contained a similar tub of which the parapet was gone, confirmed this picture. However, the rest of the tub is rather well preserved. Inside, along three sides (except the front), we found benches rising 0.60 m above the floor level of the room, which are therefore similar in size to those found in the "dressing area" on the opposite side of the room. The bench height above the floor level of the tub is just 0.10 m. The latter is composed of very large brick slabs, similar in size to those placed above the hypocaust piers of the bath complex. Our excavation suggests that the benches inside the bathtub must be considered as lying benches, a fact which is confirmed by the presence of a headstone in the southwest corner. Marble slabs decorated the lower parts of all wall sections inside the tub. Most were of white Docimian marble. The marble was partially hidden by the lying benches, which clearly had been placed in front of it probably during the early fifth century A.D. The sitting benches of the dressing section had also been placed in front. Although most of the currently recovered marble veneer from the room may go back to its fourth-century A.D. refurbishment, the marble revetment itself showed several construction phases. At some spots, we found double layers of marble slabs, and we recognized at least four different kinds of mortars and plasters. In front of the bathtub we exposed a water channel running west-east. Its eastern part probably served as a drain for the (still unexcavated) cold-water tub in the central recess, while its western part is connected with the water channel running north-south from the apodyterium to the heated corridor leading to caldarium 2. The part of the channel running in front of the excavated recess was open, whereas the rest of it was covered with brick slabs.

We only reached the floor level in the southwest part of the dressing room. Above it, a thick layer full of white plaster that had fallen from the walls announced its presence. This layer also yielded lots of marble veneer; in a mere two days we retrieved ca. 50 boxes of marble, nearly half a ton of wall revetment. We also recovered lots of metal clamps and hooks which were used to keep the revetment slabs in place, as well as many nails. Among the marble veneer, we found a nice Corinthian pilaster capital and one slab, broken into several pieces, with an incised Egyptianizing drawing. The drawing showed the sun between two falcons, and the head of a god with and Egyptian crown containing two uraei (rearing cobras) with a sun disk. Similar fragments have been found previously in caldarium 2 (the original reception hall), on which the god Toth was depicted with other Egyptian figures. The presence of such features in a bathing complex is truly interesting from a point of view of international contacts and the spread of exotic, fashionable elements (of design, rather than worship). It is already known that there were extensive contacts between Sagalassos and Egypt as expressed by seven centuries of export of Sagalassos red slip ware to the Nile valley and Alexandria, by seven centuries of import of Nile fish and glass, by the success of Egyptian cults at Sagalassos, and by the role that several Sagalassians played in the administration of Alexandria. What was more surprising was the discovery of (relatively) large amounts of bone and glass fragments. We found these in a very compact layer above and inside the water channel running along the south wall in front of the bathtubs. Hundreds of glass fragments were carefully excavated, together with pieces of oil lamps, drinking cups, and different kinds of unguentaria (small bottles for perfumes and aromatic oils). In fact, we found a single completely preserved minuscule perfume glass recipient (a so-called tear bottle) here, a unique find for the Baths, where all fragile artifacts are usually completely shattered. We could be dealing here with a (very confined) dump, but at least the glass shards belong to utensils that are usual for a bathing area. We think that the glass implements originally stood on top of the channel along the wall and, when destroyed, they partially washed into the latter. The pottery and bone fragments are more difficult to associate with a bathing complex. Further research by the archaezoological team will be necessary, but we could discern bones from birds (chicken?), fish, and mammals. These could have washed into the channel as discarded leftovers from a meal, which could have been eaten on the lying benches in the niche, but it is still too soon to substantiate this hypothesis.

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