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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The Roman Baths as seen from the Upper Agora
The west facade of the Roman Baths with the collapsed walls of the western south room (team RB 1) to the right (south)
To the right, Johan Claeys (archaeologist, K. U. Leuven) and safety manager Roland Vandenborre inspect the enormous piece of mortared rubble, which was no longer supported from below.
The RB2 team active in the southern part of the eastern space, during the second half of the week

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

Roman Baths: July 30-August 3

This week, the Roman Baths 1 team, led by Frank Carpentier and Hasan Uzunoglu, steadily ventured deeper, starting near what was thought to be a southern doorway to the former Kaisersaal, located between the western full ashlar pier and the curved eastern ashlar pier. The original brick curtain wall between the ashlar piers had collapsed here, together with a bath tub built against it in the late fourth to early fifth century A.D. (see Roman Baths: July 16-27, 2006). Earlier, a brick wall had been excavated there, part of the original curtain wall, but this week a curved brick wall was further exposed in the northwest corner of the most western of both south spaces. It suggests the existence of a double apsidal brick basin (see: Roman Baths, 16-27, 2006), stretching from the northwest corner of the room towards a similar apsidal wall found last week some 25 meters to the east, behind the south wall of the Kaisersaal (see Roman Baths, July 16-27, 2006). This means that originally there must have been a ca. 25 meter-long apsidal brick basin built against the north wall of the western southern space.

This basin seems to have been abandoned at some point, and was replaced by another rectangular structure, which is likely well-preserved and seems to have been built to the south of the structures behind the basin in the Kaisersaal (see: Roman Baths: July 16-27, 2006). At the present time the structure seems to be approximately 2.30 meters wide and 4.40 meters long. Its east wall is made of well built mortared brick and mortared rubble layers. Two smaller walls, separated only 1 meter from one another, seem to extend from the structure in a westward direction. In between them, large quantities of charcoal were found. The south wall (length: 4.40 meters) contains tuff blocks and has a large recycled ashlar at its eastern extremity. Its upper part is covered with traces of burning and around it, charcoal was found in abundance and sampled for radiocarbon dating. All of this suggests a heating system was once built here, and in the later fourth to early fifth century A.D. the Kaisersaal was transformed into Caldarium 2. The heating system, or praefurnium, may have served the hot water tubs of the new caldarium.

Near the northern edge of the area under excavation, between the new praefurnium and the collapsed basin in the Kaisersaal, a clearer picture emerged of the structures just to the south of the Kaisersaal. A part of these structures, a north-south oriented, single plastered brick wall, (length: 0.80 meters) was discovered a few weeks ago (see: Roman Baths: July 16-27, 2006). Another brick wall, parallel to the first and of the same length, was exposed. Toward the south, both were connected by a ca. 1.15 meter-long wall made of tuff blocks, thus forming a squarish space between the praefurnium and the basin. Perhaps, this space was made to hold hot water. In fact, both the mortar and the bricks of all three walls show clear traces of heating.

Near the largely collapsed curtain wall, architectural fragments, wall veneer, column fragments, metal, mosaic pieces, and ceramics were found, among which was the head of a terracotta soldier, very popular in Sagalassos during the late fifth to early seventh centuries A.D.

At the moment, it seems likely that the western south space, whatever its original function--perhaps another second century A.D. caldarium--eventually became the heating room of the late Roman Caldarium 2 established in the Kaisersaal.

[image] Left, the curved west wall of an apsidal brick basin appears in the northwest corner of the southwestern room. Right, the squarish area with the previously discovered plaster covered single brick wall is visible on the left; to the right the praefurnium is emerging [image]

After the third week, the majority of large architectural fragments had been removed by crane from the excavation sectors of the Roman Baths 2 (RB2) team, working in the eastern southern space. During the first days of this week they planned to expose the southern part of Frigidarium F1, where two half sectors had been left unexcavated in previous years. We hoped to not only uncover the remaining part of the mosaic floor in this frigidarium (see Roman Baths, August 21-25, 2005), but to also find the connection between this room and the room to the south of it, the "eastern southern" space. This could provide us with important information about the floor level in the eastern southern space, and help us in planning the activities for the next few weeks.

In Frigidarium F1, a thick layer, which contained a remarkable amount of tile from the collapse of the roof, was removed. Soon the remains of the frigidarium's southern wall, which had been partly exposed before, were found. In the middle, an opening, probably a door, could be identified. This brick curtain wall runs from the pier of ashlars in the west and was probably connected to the rubble wall in the east. This eastern rubble wall caused unexpected problems for the RB2 team. While excavating in the southeastern corner of the frigidarium it became clear that this wall had been seriously affected, probably by seismic activities. The lower part of this wall was completely destroyed, and, as a result, the wall's upper rubble stones were not supported anymore. This created a dangerous situation for the excavators, as several tons of mortared rubble were virtually floating above their heads. Thanks to the immediate intervention of safety manager Roland Vandenborre, the overhanging stones were temporarily supported.

The situation, however, prevents us from excavating further in the southern part of the frigidarium, until the conservation team can fill up the hole in the wall with new rubble. At the same time, this team will carry out some conservation work on the plaster found in situ on the northeast corner of the brick wall. As such, it was decided to temporarily stop the excavations here, only 0.40 meters above the mosaic floor level, and move back to the sectors to the south, where we hoped to learn more about the internal subdivision of this southern area. This week, however, we did not find any structural features, but we almost certainly will as we continue excavating here next week. The architectural fragments found this week seem to support the hypothesis of a more opulent and public character for this southern part of the Roman bath complex.

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