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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The palatial mansion of the Domestic Area seen from the southwest toward the end of the season
The "atrium" seen from the north. At its back is the arcade opening to the corridor leading to the vestibule (background) of the reception hall.
The atrium with its impluvium seen from the west. In the background the monumental entrance and its flanking windows to room XLVI.
Arm fragment of a marble statuette from room XLVI

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

Domestic Area: August 21-25, 2005

This week, the team of the Domestic Area, supervised by Inge Uytterhoeven and Ine Jacobs, finished the excavation of both rooms XLVI and "courtyard" XLV. Sadly, in room XLVI, where the previous weeks mosaic fragments from an upper floor level were found (see Domestic Area, August 7-11 and 14-18), they did not encounter a preserved floor anymore. However, several pieces of small geometrically shaped marble tiles just above the floor substrate indicated that there must once have been a colorful marble opus sectile pavement, just as thinner marble revetment slabs and metal clamps suggest a similar decoration for the walls. It is clear that, as in rooms XLIV and XXXI (excavated last year, see Domestic Area 2004) and XXII (excavated in 2001), the opulent wall and floor decoration of this representative room had been stripped of most of its marble decoration, undoubtedly to be reused elsewhere. Because the mosaic pavement of the floor above this room had fallen down, access to the latter was rather difficult (see Domestic Area, August 14-18), unless this event happened much later, this may be another indication that the mansion was (at least partially) abandoned before the seventh century A.D. earthquake struck. Inside the room, the arm of a very small marble statuette was found. It is not certain however, whether it belonged to this room or to that on the floor above it.

The supposed "courtyard XLV" held another surprise in spare, following the discovery of a well-preserved pavement in purple slate slabs during the previous week (see Domestic Area, August 14-18). Its presence there was rather puzzling as this stone is very sensitive to weathering by water and in fact not fit for permanent open air exposure, certainly not if it could be covered by rain water. However, after the team completely cleared the floor, there came an answer to this question. In fact, more or less in front of the monumental entrance to room XLVI, a square depression of 2 by 2 m was found located 0.20 m below the actual "courtyard" floor level. Therefore, it became clear that this "courtyard" had not been an open "courtyard", but that it acted as an atrium with an impluvium located behind the main entrance to the house. The tuff column and two column bases exposed last week might suggests that the impluvium had been surrounded by four columns at its corners, supporting the entablature for an opening in the roof (compluvium). Taken into account the rather dry summers at Sagalassos, the basin may only have collected rainwater during rainy weather. This water must have been immediately evacuated and stored in a cistern, so that the same slate slabs of the impluvium floor were never covered by a water surface. This was confirmed by two openings in the edges of the impluvium: one in the north and one in the southwest. Anyhow, the presence of this kind of atrium with a real impluvium is rather rare in Asia Minor, certainly in late antiquity. The fact that this atrium still had an arcaded gallery on its east side flanking the monumental entrance to room XLVI behind it, makes it very likely that the latter fulfilled a very important function in the mansion. Hopefully, this will be cleared during the excavations of next year. In order to excavate the entrance to the atrium, a new curve was laid out in the road, which was constructed years ago to give cranes and tractors access to the upper city.

The last two and a half days, the team made a test sounding on the lowest terrace of the villa. A small arch, of which only the left half was still standing and which was incorporated into the southeastern corner of room XXVIII pointed toward an older, maybe even the oldest building phase of the house. It seemed likely that this arch was a leftover from an older arcade, perhaps further preserved below the present visible floor level. However, it turned out that the arch was not higher than 1 m, so it did not belong to a real arcade, but must have served another function. As was the case with the later east wall of room XXVIII, this older arch was built on top of the foundation of a floor preceding the substratum of the original slabs of the courtyard. In between the mortar and stones of this eldest floor substrate, one found the remains of a water channel constructed in brick and mortar, built in an oblique way towards the wall. It may have served as a water evacuation channel, although this could not yet be confirmed. Its exact date and that of the original construction of the first floor are still unclear.

[image]Left, small arch, incorporated into the eastern wall of room XXVIII. Right, the water channel in brick and mortar found inside the oldest floor substrate of room XXVIII. [image]
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