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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Ankara University students pointing the wall of the waiting room on the upper level of the patlatial mansion
One of the workmen (Mehmet Usta) reassembling the corner of the door leading into the heavily damaged room XVI (originally part of the private bath complex) in the palatial mansion
Consolidation of the collapsed mosaic floor found in room XLVI by Hande Kökten

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

On Site Conservation: August 7-11, 2005

The architectural and fine conservation tasks were carried out following our initial program of priorities as well as the urgencies of the ongoing excavations. This week, the team was directed by Hande Kökten (Ankara, Meslek Yüksel Okulu, Ankara University) and by Mehmet Köyütürk (METU, Ankara).

The architectural works at the palatial mansion in the Domestic Area mainly concentrated on the relatively more complex problems of the structure's south/southeastern spaces. One space, which originally functioned as a kind of small nymphaeum for the mansion, Room XIX, and the rooms adjacent to it were in urgent need of conservation. The complex building phases of this monumental house demand meticulous observation and analysis prior to any intervention. Masonry interventions are only done when the architectural history of the walls are thoroughly understood by means of communication with the excavation director and the archaeologists of the Domestic Area. Room XIX is a very good example of the juxtaposed architectural stratigraphy of the house, where a late wall face hides the better-finished surfaces of the original space. This could be observed not only by the coursing of the masonry, but also because fresco layers of the original surface were visible behind some collapsed sections of the later additions. Repairs such as pointing and capping, as well as systematic dismantling and reassembling, were carried out making sure that the rich architectural stratigraphy remained legible.

In the monumental and relatively well-preserved northern spaces of the palatial mansion, the most crucial task of capping was completed. As well as the higher architectural quality of these spaces, the original pointing on these walls also show better workmanship and possibly use of a better and more durable mortar. Hence they were in a better state of preservation. Trowel marks of the ancient stonemason are still visible at most of the joints (mortar surface) in these northern reception rooms XXII, XXI, and XLIV. Therefore we had to develop a new way of intervention to prevent winter damage to these walls through the joints. Only the visible cracks of the original pointed surfaces were filled with lime mortar (the currently used aggregate composition with additional pigments), and were well documented to test their durability over the winter.

Some members of our team started to work at the Lower Agora, where the back wall of the cistern beneath the late "guard house," as well as the walls of the spaces and the shops to the south of it needed urgent intervention. Most of the walls of the East Portico shops had suffered serious winter damage causing partial collapses. The main reason of such damage was the lack of capping over the wall sections. Therefore the team primarily concentrated on preserving the wall tops.

Further grouting and stabilization of the plasters on the faces of the piers at the Roman Baths and on the walls in Macellum were also carried out.

Other than these routinely expected finds, the excavation team in DA has found collapsed but significant fragments of floor mosaics (see Domestic Area, August 7-11, 2005), which had to be treated and carefully removed from the site. The fine conservation team had to wait for a certain amount of time, which is necessary for the surface of the mosaic to dry before further interventions and started to stabilize the mosaic pieces by applying PVA and cotton tissue on the surface.

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