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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
General view of the Roman Baths taken from the Upper Agora on the last day of the excavations
View of the mosaic floor in the "northern six-piered hall". The shade of the excavation director hanging from the crane's arm nearly 15 m above it is clearly present in the picture.
Connection between the "northern six-piered hall" and the "central hall". In the lower right corner, the edge of a new pattern possibly surrounding a pool becomes visible.
The exposed part of the "central hall"
The horseshoe-shaped pool in the western extremity of the "central" hall with the star-shaped water evacuation slab in front of it

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

Roman Baths: August 21-25, 2005

This week the Roman Baths 1-team supervised by Mustafa Kiremitçi, Hasan Uzunoglu and Markku Corremans continued its efforts to uncover the mosaic floor along the western edge of the "northern six-piered hall" (see Roman Baths, July 10-August 14 with maps of the whole structure). By the end of the week, the connection was made with the excavation area of the Roman Baths 2 team operating in the "central hall" with its huge corner piers (the supposed large frigidarium 1). Because no walls have been encountered in between both spaces, it was already certain that both teams were all the time uncovering a continuous mosaic floor. The visible piers leave no doubt that one is uncovering here an enormous cross shaped space with a mosaic floor of ca 1150 square meters! During the whole week, the conservation team continued repairing and reinforcing the damaged mosaic floor along the eastern edge of the trench, where during the seventh century A.D. earthquake the concrete vault had directly fallen on the floor, causing a deep depression. After the repairs had been completed, the whole exposed floor was cleaned, pictures were taken and the floor was carefully drawn. The fully extended arm of the mobile crane was necessary to get a bird's eye view of the mosaic floor. In order to get the best aerial shots, the excavation directed, armed with a camera, his legs tied behind his back in order to avoid having them visible inside the pictures, was lifted in a very un-Indiana Jones way to a height of about 15 m. above floor level. However, the view from there was absolutely stunning and it was the only way to view the already exposed part of the black on white mosaic decoration of the immense hall in its entirety.

The excavated part of the mosaic floor in the "northern six-piered hall" thus consists of three main zones and five different patterns. The main zones are the recesses between the piers, a border of about 1.20 m wide running around a central area and finally the latter itself. In the three recesses between the piers there is a same pattern of superposed scales, filled with triangular, square, linear and leaf-shaped motifs. The pattern of the border consists of rectangles, filled with triangles indicated by black lines, with smaller completely black triangles inside. White and black small triangles also fill the corners of the rectangles. The middle area of the excavated part of the floor, being only a fraction of the whole surface of the mosaic floor, is made up of different patterns. The largest (northern) part consists of densely placed superposed and intersecting smaller scales. To the south of it, there is a pattern of large scales superposed alternatively in a vertical and horizontal way. The south section in front of and corresponding in width with the northwest pier of the "central hall" is made of a reticulate pattern of diamonds in a north-south direction. It continues further south inside the "central hall", but this time in the opposite direction (east-west orientation). In the southeast corner of the trench, already belonging to the northern edge of the "central hall" another border composed of individual circles connected by lines formed a new pattern. Above the mosaic floor level a coin was found dating to the reign of Julian (A.D. 355-361), which means that the floor was still in use during or after his reign. Unfortunately, it does not provide us with a fine terminus ante quem (date before the creation of the floor), as fourth century coins remained in use at Sagalassos for a very long period.

Once again clusters of small bones were found in the debris. In order to get even the tiniest bones, soil samples with the bones were sent to the flotation team for closer scrutiny. Just as last week (see Roman Baths, August 14-18 and Find of the Week), we are probably dealing with the pellets puked by an eagle owl.

Early this week the team of RB2, supervised by Johan Claeys and Onur Özer, cleared the mosaic floor within their sectors located within the "central hall". The protective layers on top of the mosaics already exposed in 2001, were removed as well, which now left the conservation and architectural teams in charge for further cleaning and registration of the floor. As already mentioned last week, its floor consisted of different patterns emphasizing the architectural layout of the room. Inside the large western recess with the small pool, located to the west of the western row of piers of the hall, the mosaic consisted of individual circles connected by lines. In between the western row of piers there was a band with superposed scales identical to those in the recesses of the "northern six piered hall" and in fact even continuing the latter in a southward direction. Finally the eastern exposed section of the hall was decorated with hexagons filled with diamonds, of which the corners were linked by straight lines to the former. The absence of a hypocaustum (i.e. heated) floor and the presence of the small overflowing horseshoe-shaped pool in the western recess of the "central hall" seemed to identify the latter as a large frigidarium (1) or cold water bath. A similar small pool can be expected in the corresponding eastern recess of the hall. The excavations did not yet produce the assumed large central pool in the middle of the room. However, the presence in the southeast corner of the trench excavated by the RB 1 team of a new pattern apparently filling the central part of the hall and identical with that surrounding the side pools, might suggest that next year a pool will be discovered there in a north-south arrangement instead of the expected west-east orientation.

While the on site conservation team was cleaning and conserving the mosaics of the "central hall", excavation works continued in a service corridor further north. This corridor was once connected with both frigidaria 2 and 1 (central hall) located respectively to the north and east and to the south of it. Probably during the fourth century, however, three entrances to the room were closed off by means of rubble walls. The layers within this corridor yielded more (small) finds than the destruction layers of the "central hall", which made the excavation of this narrow space a more meticulous job. Especially in the eastern part of the room hundreds of glass fragments appeared amid the more common finds of ceramics, marble wall veneer and bone. Apart from some fragments of window glass, most parts appeared to belong to fine glasswares: aryballoi (small bottles for perfumes and oils used by visitors to the baths), drinking cups and small jugs.

The brick floor was only preserved in the middle part of this corridor over a width of no more than 1.45 m. Sondages were carried out east and west of it to get an idea of the layout of the floor and wall foundations. The eastern sondage yielded material that was similar to that of the layer immediately above floor level, with several special finds such as a terracotta horse figurine, some late-Roman coins (among them a half follis dated to the reign of the emperor Mauritius, A.D. 582-602) and a small pendulant (?) in semi-precious material. The follis coin indicates that activities continued in this section of the baths until the late sixth or early seventh century A.D. Along the southern wall, in the second sondage, the team stumbled upon the continuation of the drainage channel that runs below the mosaic floor of the "central hall" and that must have evacuated the continuous overflow of the water from the small pool situated against its western wall (see Roman Baths, August 14-18). The covering bricks were missing at this part of the channel, which made it possible to take flotation and pollen samples from the sediments within.

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