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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The start of the excavations below the late Roman water pipes. In the background the early Imperial ashlar walls of a house.
The trench toward the end of the week. To the left, the remainder of a thick volcanic tuff deposit. Its right edge had clearly been disturbed to remove a structure, possibly corresponding with the wall remains in the right part of the picture.

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

Street Test Soundings: August 15-19, 2004

This week, we completed the test sounding, carried out as part of a series of excavations within the framework of the study on the urban planning of Sagalassos (see Street Test Soundings, August 8-12). After excavating a room in one of the rich houses of the eastern residential quarter last week, we expanded the trench westward to expose the supposed north-south street, which according to results of the 2002 geophysical survey ran to the west of this housing unit. This street likely gave out to the Fountain-Library complex. Although remains of a former street surface could be identified on the basis of a water channel, which once must have been covered with slabs, the exact sequence of events, as well as the relationship of these events to the occupation of the adjacent house remained unclear. So we decided to dig into the oldest levels in the extended trench. The eastern part of the trench produced a different stratigraphical sequence, which seemed to have been related to the former street surface. After the abandonment, part of the stratigraphical sequence eroded down slope. At the lowest level of the western part of the trench, we found a bench of pure volcanic tuff, representing the sterile soil. This ash layer must have been a deposit of the last eruption of the volcanoes around Lake Golcuk, ca. 10 km north of Sagalassos. In previous years we found a similar thick layer immediately below the Augustan substrate of the Upper Agora pavement slabs. This bench was the remainder of a layer, which must have been dug out for leveling or for constructing something. Part of this construction may have been found in the southwestern part of the trench, where there was a concentration of larger boulders, which may have been either part of a floor level, or rather of a wall in view of its irregular upper surface. The profile clearly showed that someone had dug through the level covering this feature, in order to remove it at some point, most likely in early Imperial times. This would mean that the slopes to the east of the Hellenistic city walls already carried at least one structure before the early Imperial expansion of the city. Upon this ancient level, two filling levels were inserted, likely to create a support for the water channel and the former street surface. The pottery of these levels mainly belonged to the first century A.D. As described in last week's report, it has been noticed for many streets at Sagalassos, that the slabs were removed in late antiquity, likely after the early sixth-century A.D. earthquake, for reuse in repairs elsewhere in town. This also must have been the case here, whereby three late Roman terra-cotta pipelines were inserted into the early Imperial level.

In the western part of the trench, the levels were found covering the abandoned street surface, which seemed to have eroded partially down slope. This was illustrated both by the position of the layers in the profile as by two stretches of terra-cotta water pipelines, which had moved down slope. Still, at the point where one stopped excavating, ca. 2 m below the modern surface, another terracotta water pipeline appeared, which also must have belonged to the older levels of the occupation here. To conclude, this test sounding has confirmed, as was suggested by an earlier test sounding in the same area, that this residential quarter must have been laid out in early Imperial times. The ashlar masonry wall of the outer facade of the adjacent house, likely belonged to this phase of urban layout. The interior (re)furnishing or organization of this house, however, could only be dated to the second century A.D. at the earliest. Based on the filling levels within the excavated room (see Street Test Soundings, August 8-12), this house may have been partially abandoned at some point from the fifth century A.D. onward. When all this evidence is combined, it cannot be contested that--unless important erosive events removed part of the evidence--this urban quarter may have been already abandoned to some extent, when the town still prospered in late antiquity. The old street substrata nevertheless remained in use in late antiquity to maintain the water infrastructure.

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