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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Early sixth-century Ionic impost capital
The narthex of Basilica F, seen from the north

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

Architectural Survey of the Churches: July 31-August 4, 2005

The architectural survey of the churches in the western part of the city focused on Basilica F. While a team of architects from Istanbul Technical University (Ayça Taylan and Nazli Tümerdem) was drawing a plan of the basilica based on the remains visible at the surface, members of the Slovenian geophysics team used a geomagnetospectrometer to try to determine the building's largely buried contours. This established the position of the church's south wall, which is hardly visible on the surface, as well as the possible line of the columns inside it dividing the aisles from the nave. Furthermore, a grid of 20 by 20 m sectors was laid out for further archaeological study of the area by the urban survey team of Femke Martens. The dispersed architectural remains of the church were registered within the same grid system. They included several rounded limestone columns from the northern and southern colonnades, as well as Ionic impost-capitals, which will have supported the arcades separating the aisles from the nave. Two further possible elements of the ambo were found beside the already noted central octagonal platform. Finally, fragments of rectangular limestone pillars with slits were registered. These could be identified as chancel piers, the vertical elements that held the plates closing off the chancel or bema, i.e. the area around the altar at the eastern end of a church.

This provided us with an idea of the church's internal layout: a tripartite basilica with two aisles flanking a central nave, which obviously included an ambo or pulpit from which the priest could preach to the congregation, and ended with a separate area for the altar, the bema or chancel, which was enclosed by plates held by the rectangular limestone piers. The blocks registered west of the church allowed a reconstruction of the line of the narthex, which had three entrances, and the central entrance to the nave. The geophysical survey further established that the possible substructure of the supposed staircase was in fact a terrace wall that held the platform on which the church was constructed and may even have supported the building's south wall. Rather than by a staircase, the place of worship seems to have been accessed from the northwest corner of the paved square preceding the narthex. As to the church's decoration, marble slabs pieces were noted in several places, suggesting the building had marble wall veneering. Limestone slabs east of the central entrance indicates that the floor was at least partly paved. On the basis of the decorated architectural elements retrieved so far, a construction date in the first quarter of the sixth century A.D. seems most likely for the basilica.

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