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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The Roman Baths from the North: on the left (with crane) RB 2, on the lower level to the right, RB 1
The collapsed southeast corner of the western room excavated by RB 1
The RB 1 team tackling the area behind the collapsed basin between the central and southeast pier of 'Kaisersaal 1'
Green breccia column fragment, one of many discovered by teams RB 1 and 1 in the southern rooms of the baths
A seven ton ashlar block from the piers of the southern piered hall is removed in the sector of the RB2 team.

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

Roman Baths: July 16-27

The south part of the bath complex seems to have consisted of two rather large rooms at its western and eastern ends. These rooms were tackled by the Roman Baths 1 and the Roman Baths 2 teams, respectively.

During the second week of the campaign, the Roman Baths 1 team, excavating the western room, focused on its northeast corner (see Roman Baths, July 10-13). A rubble layer there, consisting mostly of loosely stacked limestone rubble and brick fragments, put a temporary stop to all activities, because it was in danger of collapsing. Of the entire monument, the south side of the bath complex was clearly the most affected by the earthquake, which effectively destroyed the entire structure sometime during the A.D. 640s. In the northeast corner of the room, against the southeast pillar of the Kaisersaal (a representative space built to honor the imperial family) and the wall that runs to the east of it, a brick vaulted structure, measuring 1.5 by 1.0 meters and projecting 0.50 meters beyond the pillar, was partially exposed. This vaulted structure was formed by an east-facing wall, which contained a small opening 15 centimeters in diameter, likely an outlet for water. It seems that the vaulted space must have been a water reservoir, either for hot water or water to be heated elsewhere. It was likely also used to distribute water to the basins of either the Kaisersaal (in fact, there is an opening toward that room as well) or for a still to be discovered caldarium, or hot water room, among the southern rooms of the baths. As the Kaisersaal was only transformed into a caldarium in the fourth century A.D., it is very unlikely that the original second century A.D. caldarium 1 was used alternatively by the city's men and women. Thus, it is likely that another caldarium existed solely for the other gender. These southern spaces remain the only possible location for such a caldarium.

Unfortunately, the rubble wall on top of the vault's eastern extremity was so unstable that we had to stop excavating the reservoir until the endangered section above it was dismantled. Yet, it became clear that the southern wall of this vaulted container was connected at the east to a brick apse, later filled up by a brick wall, and covered with red plaster, possibly waterproof mortar containing crushed brick or tile. It formed the end of a vaulted passage leading through the south wall to the service rooms east of the Kaisersaal. Later during the campaign, another brick apse appeared in northeast corner of the same room. Together with green breccia column fragments that were uncovered, we believe that we have evidence of a double apsidal basin for hot water in the original layout of the bath complex. At the time the Kaisersaal was transfomed into a large caldarium in the fourth century A.D., the former caldarium to the south may have been turned into a praefurnium (heating room, or fireplace) for the new caldarium.

Because of the possibility of the wall collapsing, the team moved toward the five meter-wide space in the south wall of the Kaisersaal, between its central and southeast pillars. At present, because of the thick layer of pumice covering the damaged hypocaust (heated floor) below, one could get the impression that this space had been a passage toward the southern rooms. However, in the fourth century A.D. this niche also contained a bath tub. Its collapsed parapet sticks out just above the pumice. As a result, one would expect another heating device here. From the beginning of the excavation, a large amount of rich materials were found here: white marble veneer, architectural fragments (parts of the entablature with a Pfeiffenfries, or fluted frieze), and part of a column in a greenish breccia, possibly verde antico from Thessaly.

Immediately, we confirmed our hypothesis of finding late fourth century A.D. heating structures behind the partially collapsed basin. At a distance of 1.18 meters behind the basin's front, a very loosely built wall of mortared rubble and brick, which needed to be consolidated after a partial collapse, appeared. A plastered brick wall, only one brick wide, connected this wall to what must have been the back of the water basin. This structure, which probably once consisted of two void spaces, must have been connected with the basin. Its floor, 0.68 meters below the current wall, consisted of a platform projecting 1.30 meters from the back wall and made of mortared rubble covered with terracotta tiles. A pinkish mortar covered 0.48 meters of the brick wall. On the outside, the back wall was covered with charcoal. Therefore, it seems that we are dealing with a heavily damaged praefurnium, which heated water in two reservoirs behind the water basin in the Kaisersaal. Our hypothesis of the space previously being a caldarium was further corroborated by the discovery, south of the apsidal wall, of architectural fragments. In addition to more verde antico column fragments, we found fragments of twisted white marble columns, frieze fragments, and moulded marble wall veneer. There was also a conspicuous increase in the number of waterpipe fragments south of the modified apse.

The Roman Baths 2 team, working in the east room, welcomed the help of the crane, skillfully operated by Tufan Ayan. Over more than a week, this crane permanently removed large architectural fragments, mainly from the piers of the southern six-piered hall of frigidarium 1 (cold water room 1). The archaeologists were pleased to have these large ashlars moved, as they obstructed work in the excavation area. Even a limestone block weighing more than 7,000 kilograms proved to be no problem for our experienced crane driver

During the first day of the second week, the excavations concentrated on the southern facade of the Roman bath complex, where the upper row of stones was exposed for more than seven meters. Near and inside this wall, a later rubble wall was discovered, but its function has not yet been determined. A relatively large amount of marble crustae (wall veneer), including some fragments of pilaster capitals, comprised most of the finds from this area, confirming that this part of the complex was originally was more than just a service area.

For the rest of the second week, the excavation team returned to the northern sectors, adjacent to frigidarium 1. Here, they excavated further the thick destruction layers, which yielded barely any small finds but a large amount of architectural fragments. Although the team is now excavating an area 175 meters square, the structure of this part of the bath complex is not clear yet. The southern wall of the frigidarium has been partly exposed over a length of about 1.5 meters. This wall is built against one of the huge piers of frigidarium 1's central space, which is preserved for a height of at least 6.75 meters.

Later, we found more wall fragments against this pier. These brick walls seem to be well preserved and continue toward the south. The excavation reached a level of approximately 1.75 meters above the frigidarium's floor. However, in order to guarantee a wheelbarrow path for the Roman Baths 1 team, they continued the excavation farther to the west, where the south face of the wall between the Kaisersaal and frigidarium 1, and the southern rooms, was exposed. Finds included more architectural fragments, including greenish breccia column fragments, possible verde antico, twisted fluted marble columns, and pieces of a Pfeiffenfries. These finds paint the bath complex's original southern spaces as both public and opulent. The bath complex is suspected to have also contained a second cluster of caldarium and tepidarium (tepid water rooms), dating back to the original layout of the bath complex, and another cluster of caldarium and tepidarium in the northwest corner of the complex.

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