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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
View of the artisanal area from the east. The excavated circular kilns are visible on the left (kiln 1) and in the center of the picture (kiln 2). A third kiln emerges in the right hand corner.
View of the inside of kiln 1 with its dumped material including an amphora, several oinophoroi, and other vessels. The connection to the firing room is visible at the back.

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

Excavations near the Theater: June 29-July 1, 2004

Our understanding of the history of the newly discovered artisanal complex increased considerably during the second week of excavation in the potters' quarter, under the direction of Jeroen Poblome and Peter Talloen. So far, we recognized at least two phases. (The last phase consisted mainly of a system of water channels, which are uncertain as to function and date.)

The new artisanal complex now already contains a total of five kilns, all of which corresponded to anomalies defined by previous geophysical surveying. The complex seems to have been organized as a series of long rectangular spaces, each serving one or more kilns. The excavation of two of them has been completed. We were very fortunate that they were much better preserved than expected, with most of the firing chambers more or less intact. The walls were constructed of locally produced bricks lined with clay. No central support was present as the kilns were key-hole structures with the kiln floor supported by arches springing from a ledge at medium height inside the firing chamber. In both cases, an arch covered the entrance to the firing chamber. Remains of the entrance to Kiln 1's pot room were also preserved.

The entire workshop complex was dismantled upon abandonment. The same goes for the kilns, which were deliberately emptied of their contents, their upper part destroyed, and the remaining structure filled with workshop rubbish. In this way, Kiln 1 contained a couple of complete or restorable pots, including a local amphora, a collection of locally produced decorated wine bottles (oinophoroi), and local table ware (Sagalassos red slip ware). We also found some lumps of the high quality Canakli clay imported from eight km away to produce the fine quality table wares of Sagalassos inside this kiln.

From these fills and sections made through the floors of some of the rooms, the layout of the complex can be dated to the second half of the fifth century A.D. Its abandonment followed fairly shortly afterward, during the course of the sixth century, and, strikingly, we have not yet found any identifiable seventh-century material.

We found a fair number of molds associated with the kilns and with debris left in the rooms. These molds served to produce oil lamps, along with other mold-made pottery or oinophoroi decorated with Dionysiac and Christian motives, figurines of animals and riders on horseback, and masks of soldiers. Considering the lack of other misfired material, such as kitchen and tablewares, we, for now, identify this complex as for the production of mold-made and decorated pottery. Interestingly, the Sagalassos oinophoroi were still traded into late Roman times, and exported to places as far away as Egypt and Carthage.

This broadens our picture of the extent and the diversity of the Potters' Quarter. To the east is the previously excavated workshop, created during the reign of Augustus to produce table wares. It went out of use (for the construction of a large family tomb) at some point in the later second century A.D., before being replaced by a new complex that functioned from the third until the fifth century. The newly discovered complex was a more specialised working area, producing mainly mold-made and decorated lamps and vessels during the fifth and part of the sixth century. What is striking that this complex also was cleared with great care before its final abandonment.

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