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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The partially re-dismantled Heroon at the beginning of the season
Fragments of the stone roof slabs imitating tiles
The stone workshop near the NW Heroon with some or our locally trained carvers

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

Northwest Heroon: Introduction

Since 1998, the anastylosis of the northwest Heroon (hero shrine) has been exclusively sponsored by the Belgian Bacob Bank. Since its more recent merger with Dexia Bank, the sponsorship has been taken over and continued by Group Arco, a part of the larger company. A few months ago, Dexia Bank ventured into the Turkish market and took over Deniz Bank. For us, this has an almost symbolic meaning, as a reflection of our excellent three decade collaboration with the Turkish Ministry of Culture, the Turkish Embassy at Brussels, and dozens of Turkish universities and high schools. Even more, Mr. Dirk Bruyneel, the bank official who in 1998 took the initiative for sponsoring this specific anastylosis project, is now responsible for the collaboration between Dexia and the Deniz Bank, which will take him frequently to Turkey and hopefully to Sagalassos, where we will always welcome him as a honorary citizen of Sagalassos and as a friend.

During this campaign, we got an early start on the anastylosis of the northwest Heroon, a mid- to late Augustan honorific monument, nearly 15 meters tall, dedicated to the memory of an unidentified prominent citizen of Sagalassos. Anastylosis is a technique which involves rebuilding a structure only when at least 85% of the original building elements are well preserved. Missing stones or fragments of stones are only replaced by new specimens, freshly carved following the ancient technology and using the same material, when this is necessary for the structural stability of the monument. (see Field Notes 2003-2005, Anastylosis Projects) The only concession to modern technology is that an epoxy resin is used to glue large pieces together, and fiberglass bars are also sometimes used to connect adjoining stones. The iron dowels and clamps--as well as the lead that in antiquity protected them against corrosion and kept them in place--are replaced by fiberglass bars and matting and epoxy resin. From the beginning, the whole project has been supervised and carried out with great skill by the archaeologist Ebru Torun.

Last year, the monument was re-erected, without a permanent attachment on its upper half, up to the cornice level, using all available original blocks. The completion of this mock set-up in August last year coincided perfectly with the visit of the board of the Dexia Group under the direction of CEO Rik Branson, who unveiled three commemorative plates recording the company's sponsorship. The occasion was also the group's fiftieth anniversary. This temporary set-up has already given us a glance of how the completely finished monument, a real pearl of the site, will look. (See Anastylosis Projects, August 21-September 3, 2005) An unexpected result of this set-up was the discovery of the an intriguing fact concerning the Herooen's gabled roof, which is made of white limestone slabs that imitate large tiles and pentagonal (Corinthian) covering tiles, with separately carved antefixes (the lowest row of covering tiles closed off at their extremity and decorated with palmettes). A large part of this roof was still there, and we found that it had been internally supported in the middle of the naiskos (temple-shaped top of the structure) by a stone arch, of which most of the voussoirs were recovered. This means that after we dismantle the upper half of the structure again, replace the missing stones or fragments, fix them with fiber glass connections and comple the internal arch, half of the roof can be put back into place again.

We are extremely grateful to Mr. Rik Branson and his company for having extended their generous support by one more year in order to achieve that goal. The replacement of the missing parts of some building blocks and a total recarving of others, together with the permanent fixing of all of the ashlar couses, took more time than envisioned, however. Consequently, it seems that that the permanent placing of the roof will be the first thing on our program in the 2007 season. In the meantime, our local Aglasun workmen have been active in the anastylosis of the buildings since 1994 (late Hellenistic fountain house), and have sufficiently learned how to carve new or complete fragmentary stones by using the pantograph. Until now, we had to hire specialized stone carvers from Cappadocia, which required extra funds beyond our excavation budget. The skills of our workmen will reduce our expenses for the stone restorations. We deeply regret that the building will still not be completely finished this year, but it will take a short time to do next year and with the support provided by Group Arco, we will be able to conduct a high-quality rebuilding. Thus, next year's program will include the permanent placing of the roof, closing some gaps in the walls and treating the surface of the stones, which can be carried out by only four workmen.

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