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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
View of the site of Hisar from the south
View of Belören (Keraiteai) with its city walls clearly visible in the right part of the picture
The plain of Çeltikçi seen from the acropolis of Keraiteai
The bouleuterion of Keraiteiai
View of the stronghold of Sandalion

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

Territorial Survey: June 5-17, 2004

This week the survey team was composed of Marc Waelkens (director), J. Poblome (ceramologist), Hannelore Vanhaverbeke (survey specialist), Peter Talloen (Christian remains), Veerle Lauwers (glass studies), and Nathalie Kellens (metals specialist). The week was especially fruitful for the late Archaic and Classical periods, closing the pre-Hellenistic vessel gap. The most important sites we visited were the following:

  • Hisar, ca. 15 km southeast of Sagalassos. It is composed of an elongated limestone hill rising, some 120 m above the plain, split in two by a depression. Only the western part of the hill was occupied. It offers a beautiful view of the plain below and also of the Early Iron Age site of Aykirikça located a few kilometers farther east, which may have been its predecessor. The site of Hisar, of which the ancient name remains unknown, was surrounded by fortifications including several large towers. The older parts of these fortifications are made of very irregular walls in polygonal masonry while the more recent parts are composed of regular ashlar walls. Partially rock-cut houses occupy the top of the hill. The main occupation of this site could be attributed to the late Archaic to Hellenistic period. At a rather early date (probably in Hellenistic times), it must have become a deme of Sagalassos and lost its importance. In early Byzantine times, the north slope of the hill was reoccupied by a middle-sized settlement with houses made of rubble walls, and the northern edge of the acropolis was also refortified by means of a new wall made in the same technique.

  • Belören, previously identified as the city of the Keraiteaioi, located some 15 km south of Sagalassos. Originally a Hellenistic polis (independent city-state) during Augustus' rule, its territory seems to have been split in two. A western part, composed of a very fertile valley, seems to have become an estate belonging to Sagalassos. The city proper and the well-forested eastern part of its territory were joined to the nearby Augustan colony of Kremna, with which it issued some coins mentioning both sites. Belören is still surrounded by well-preserved city walls composed of two outer faces in rather regular ashlars filled in with irregular fieldstones. Beloren is located on the east slope of a hill rising some 130 meters above its lowest fortifications. On its top, which offers a stupendous view of the valley of Çeltikçi, the remains of a small temple were found, composed of a pronaoss (vestibule) with a plain wall (no columns) and a naoss (room with the cult statue); next to it was a large cistern. Since the coinage--studied by Peter Talloen--suggests that Artemis was the main goddess of the site, this dominating shrine occupying the city's acropolis may have been dedicated to her. Eighty meters down the east slope, we discovered a middle sized ashlar building in rusticated stones that are slightly rounded on the front side. Its proportions and shape suggest that we may have found the council house (bouleuterion) of the Hellenistic city. Its walls stand at least 2.40 m high. Some 20 meters below it, there was a concentration of monumental public buildings, with a major construction of 23.60 x ca. 12 m including an L-shaped Doric stoa on its north side.

    The pottery we found belonged mainly to the classical and Hellenistic period with some isolated early Imperial Sagalassos red slip wares and a larger number of late Roman to early Byzantine pottery.

  • a kale (fortress) located some 40 km to the west of Sagalassos. A fortified limestone hill produced mainly middle to late Hellenistic pottery. In later times the small settlement seems to have moved down the slopes.

  • the site of Harmancik or Sandal Assar, identified as the ancient Sandalion, probably a deme of Sagalassos. It was the only settlement in Pisidia that was never conquered by the Galatian King Amyntas, who ruled over the region in 39-25 BC. Harmancik is located on a steep ca. 100 m high bedrock eminence and dominates the edge of the Aksu (Kestros) canyon, which formed the eastern boundary of the Sagalassos territory. During the Epipaleolithic period, people visited the site, leaving behind a number of tools and some cores that suggest it was a temporarily occupied, but reguarly used, flint-knapping site. Most of the pottery dates from the Hellenistic to the early Byzantine period. A small church, possibly a transformed older pagan shrine, also belongs to the Byzantine period. In front of it some column bases can be seen, as well as a largely weathered pedestal dedicated to the family of Septimius Severus (late second to early third century A.D.) that apparently listed a number of deme officials.

    During the final hour of our visit, the director Marc Waelkens experienced his first--and hopefully last--Indiana Jones experience of the season, falling down more than 1.50 m while climbing up the rocks and ending on a not-so-soft boulder.

Thus, the territorial survey not only filled our chronological gap of pre-Hellenistic diagnostic pottery, but it also produced a clear settlement pattern which complemented the pattern seen last year. This pattern consists of the emergence of well-fortified small and independent settlements, at least some of which (Hisar) had achieved city status during the Early Iron Age or the Archaic to Hellenistic period. From the latter period onward and at the latest during Augustus' reign, all settlements seem to have lost their autonomy and became incorporated into the territory of Sagalassos. At first the settlements showed evidence of early Imperial Sagalassos red slip ware sherds, but later they seem to have dwindled into oblivion, only to be reoccupied again during the unstable late Roman to Early Byzantine period. Most important is the fact that we now have some locally produced late Archaic to Classical pottery.

For the whole week, we were joined by two botanists, Leo Vanhecke (botanist) and Thijs Van Thuyne (macrobotanist), who continued the inventory of the flora of the Sagalassos' territory. During the next two weeks they will, among other things, the kind of weeds growing in cultivated fields, as their seeds are also found among grain remains in the city excavation.

Leo Vanhecke collecting plant specimens


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