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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos

Aglasun coarse ware

Aglasun fine ware

Example of Aglasun soft orange

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

Suburban Survey: July 25-29, 2004

Since 1999, Hannelore Vanhaverbeke has carried out intensive surveys in the suburban area of Sagalassos, a zone defined as within a radius of two hours walking distance from the city center. Every season a substantial amount of pottery has been collected and studied from a chronological point of view. However, details on the functional characteristics of the collected pottery assemblages were lacking. Moreover, especially as a result of the ceramic surveys initiated in 2002 to document poorly known occupation phases in the Sagalassos territory, it was felt that the large group of supposed Roman coarse ware identified at Sagalassos was composed of a number of distinct fabrics, possibly of earlier or later date. Finally, in 2001 an analysis was undertaken of pottery weathering patterns by Jeroen Poblome, resulting in the identification of pottery weathered because of its being included in manure collected for subsequent carting to the fields. The same weathering pattern was recognised on some of the sherds collected during the intensive suburban surveys. Because of these three observations, Hannelore Vanhaverbeke re-examined all the suburban survey pottery collected over the past five years. Functional categories (such as dolia, amphorae, jars, cooking pots, table ware, etc.) were quantified, distinct fabrics were separated, and attention was paid to the weathering patterns on pottery collected in 1999 and 2000. Functional categorization and quantification resulted in a mass of new information on storage, production, and consumption activities in the countryside. These data will be added to our GIS-database to check whether the relative proportions of these categories are spatially distinct and archaeologically significant.

A whole array of new fabrics was distinguished, some of which are clearly linked to imported vessels, but many of which seem to be local. Among the latter, five fabrics were represented by a more or less complete assemblage of storage, production, and consumption shapes. The one characteristic they have in common is the inclusion in the fabric of black shiny specks (the volcanic minerals amphibole or pyroxene). Sagalassos is in a volcanic active zone--as attested by the volcanic lake of Gölcük just north of the city and by the presence of thick layers of volcanic ash in the vicinity--and very large vessels occur within these fabrics (such as huge dolia). So, it is obvious that these fabrics are locally or regionally produced. Based on the size, amount, and character of the other inclusions, and the color of the fabric, these five wares were termed Aglasun coarse, Aglasun semi-fine, Aglasun fine, Aglasun soft orange, and Aglasun gray core ware. Since they do not figure among the standard fabrics produced in or used at Sagalassos, it is highly probable that they either pre-date the main occupation phase at Sagalassos (Hellenistic to Early Byzantine), or are later in date. In either cases, when more information is available as to the chronology of these wares, through plotting in GIS and assessing whether they systematically occur with for instance glazed wares which can be more accurately dated, these fabrics will substantially add to the present limited knowledge on the roots and late fate of Sagalassos and its immediate environs.

Finally, the study of the weathering patterns on the pottery collected in 1999 and 2000 confirmed that, indeed, the area over which "manure-pottery" occurs is much larger than was previously thought. This information will also have to be included in our GIS-database and will have to be plotted to assess whether some areas bear more testimony to ancient weathering patterns than others, and whether the extent of manured areas varies (e.g. as a result of horticultural versus larger-scale agricultural activities).

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