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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The NW Heroon seen from the north at the beginning of the week with scaffolding and without its entablature, but already dominating the whole environment and visible from miles away
Detail of the NE pilaster capital and of the adjoining beautifully carved tendril frieze illustrating Augustus' "golden age."
Mr. Rik Branson uncovers the memorial plates mentioning the support of the Group Arco.
View of the eastern part of the nymphaeum towards the end of last week
Putting the architrave of the third tabernacle into its original position. Notice the two partially preserved Corinthian capitals that needed to be completed with fresh stone to carry the load.

The Dionysiac thyrsos staff on one of the original pilasters that needs to be carved in a new one

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

Anastylosis Projects: August 21-September 5, 2005

The Northwest Heroon

Our sponsor the Belgian "Group Arco" was scheduled to arrive for a kind of "pre-opening" of the Heroon on Saturday, August 27, to celebrate their 70th anniversary. The Northwest Heroon team directed by Ebru Torun and assisted by Piraye Hacigüzeller frantically focused on building the naiskos further up on the days before their arrival, again sacrificing their weekend (which they got after the ceremony). On the evening of August 26, as promised, the highest stone of the monument--the top of the roof on the north side--was in its place.

It was necessary at this stage to temporarily build the upper courses of the cella walls and the entablature in order to verify the precision of the anastylosis. For this purpose, all ashlars, the tendril frieze blocks, the door lintel, the door cornice, and the sound pieces of the entablature were installed. The beautifully carved and ornate tendril frieze crowning the upper cella walls on three sides (referring to the "golden age" inaugurated by Augustus' reign) and the monumental door lintel of the naiskos proved once more the extraordinary quality of the workmanship of our Heroon.

The door lintel found broken into three large pieces had been repaired the previous weekend. While the pieces were fixed together with epoxy mortar, glass fiber bars were used as tensile reinforcement elements. The two large pieces of the door cornice were also carefully joined, as the block had a delicately thin cross section.

[image] Left, the fragments of the door lintel are being prepared for joining. Right, the door lintel is placed into its final position. [image]

With the ashlars completed by our stone carvers, it was possible to rebuild the south facade up to the entablature by the end of the week. The scaffolding was then taken down for our sponsor's visit. The kind support of Group Arco, initiated thanks to the personal efforts of Mr. Dirk Bruneel through BACOB BANK, was later taken over by GROUP ARCO and Mr. Rik Branson, president of its board of directors. On Saturday several important members of the group paid a visit to Sagalassos as planned so that Mr. Branson could uncover three marble plates (in Dutch, English, and Turkish) mentioning forever the group's support. Almost symbolically, the sun pierced through the clouds during the ceremony illuminating the structure in all its glory after hours of cloudy and threatening skies for the first time in more than two months. The Heroon project received the full appreciation of our sponsor, and we were given the good news of further support for the proper completion (final vertical sealing of several courses, etc.) of the monument next year. This will also make possible a reconstruction of the stone roof imitating roof tiles, as several voussoirs of an interior arch that had carried the stone roof slabs, many pieces of which had been found during the excavations, were identified this year. Only a few will have to be carved from fresh stone. This will make the anastylosis of the Northwest Heroon a unique example of its kind. As an excavation director, it means to me above all a tribute to the professional skills of Ebru Torun and will be a lasting testimony of those qualities to her young son Yunus.

[image] Left, the back (north) side of the Heroon on the evening of August 26. Right, the front (south) side of the Heroon on the morning of August 27. [image]

After two desperately needed days of rest following this visit of our sponsor, the Heroon team got back to work for another two weeks (until September 5). The scaffolding was re-erected in order to dismantle the few pieces of the entablature and to work on the topsides of the tendril frieze blocks. During the past week, architrave and frieze blocks were further studied. Some broken pieces as well as some decorative fragments were joined. The blocks were prepared for installation next year as their cracks were sealed or stitched.

Piraye at her last days with us was busy drawing the faces of the voussoirs of the arch for recording purposes. The Heroon team is grateful to this brilliant young colleague for her hard work and constant positive energy. We have been missing Tom Verbist and Özge Basagaç, who played such an important role in the past years, preparing the reconstruction, a lot during these last weeks. We regretted that they could not be with us during the ceremony. The same thoughts go to former colleagues like Damien Henry as well.

The last days of our work at Sagalassos were dedicated to the proper closing up of the monument and our stone platforms. The scaffolding, the machinery and other material were safely stored and another season was left behind. We are all looking forward to the coming season, which is only eight months away!

The Antonine Nymphaeum

Unlike the excavations, the anastylosis works of the Antonine Nymphaeum supervised by Semih Ercan will continue until September 8. During the last week and a half of our stay at Sagalassos, this team's activities mainly focused on two things:

  • Placing back the entablature and the gable of the third tabernacle (aedicula) from the left, located immediately to the left of the curved niche with its waterfall and its shell-like covering (concha). As one has to work outwards from the entablature of this central niche, repaired in the sixth century A.D., while reusing also stones from other structures, this proved to be an extremely difficult task. This task was even made more complicated by the fact that the architrave was resting on two only fragmentary preserved Corinthian capitals of which the missing parts had been carved anew. This made it necessary to make hundreds of trial set ups and small adaptations before everything eventually fitted. In the mean time the gable has been put back in its place, so that three aediculae now look as they did centuries ago.

  • Continuing completing missing fragments or carving completely new elements by two of our Cappadocian stone carvers, Mustafa Özkavak and Mustafa Ün, as well as by master carvers Sinan Ilhan and Eva Leplat. Whereas the latter continued completing the decoration of the second archivolt from the left (see Antonine Nymphaeum, August 7-24), Sinan focused on the completion of fragmentary preserved capitals and also started to carve the thyrsos staff, a vegetal motif referring to Dionysos, on a new pilaster of the back wall.

During the third week of September, we hope to place the final pictures of this season's work on the website.

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