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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
View of the central part of the territory of Sagalassos near Canakli
Salt deposits in the nearly dry Lake Yarisli with. in the background, the promontory with the Phrygian residential settlement.
Dennis Braekmans and Bert Neyt sampling clay pockets in ophiolite deposits in the territory of Sagalassos.

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

Geological Survey: July 8-20, 2007

This year, the geological survey was directed by Prof. Patrick Degryse, Dr. Jens Schneider, Dennis Braekmans, Bert Neyt (all from the Center for Archaeological Sciences, K.U.Leuven) and by Prof. Jan Elsen (K.U.Leuven).

As the geological circumstances were favorable, large clay bodies developed here, where the later potters' quarter of the ancient city of Sagalassos (SW Turkey) was situated. Also, we know that clay was imported from the valley of Canakli, 8 km farther south, to the potters' quarter for the mass production of fine tablewares. Little information is available, however, on possible other locations of clay extraction and pottery production throughout the history of Sagalassos. Ongoing research is focused on the analysis of the Roman common ware production and the processes in which a regional system of local production of Iron Age and Hellenistic ceramics developed into first a craft production and then a mass production--manufacturing--at Sagalassos.

We are surveying for possible clay exploitation zones, next to the ophiolitic clay of Sagalassos and the lacustrine deposits of the Canakli Plain, to document all regional clay resources that were possibly used for ceramic production in smaller facilities throughout the city's history and territory. Our preliminary analysis has identified possible production sites within nearly all valley systems of the territory. This survey should therefore be able to determine the scale and use of the different possible clay resources and thus provide further insight into the regional production of fine and common wares in the territory of Sagalassos. Regional production seems to have culminated in early Byzantine times, when the main production center at Sagalassos proper declined.


A modern clay pit in the valley of Canakli

Exhausted clay pits in the valley of Canakli are now used as fishing ponds.

Prospecting the different clay bodies characterizes and describes the range of available clay raw materials. Correlation of the mineralogical and geochemical determination of the attested clay bodies with the macroscopic, geochemical, and petrographic analysis of the ceramics themselves has the potential for detailed provenance determination of the different fabrics found within the territory from the first millennium B.C. through the first millennium A.D. This includes the description variations within clay bodies as an explanation for more or less similar fabrics that were attested within some valley systems. Methodologically, geochemical analysis of this resource material and ceramic material will be able to determine whether certain petrographically identified inclusions were either natural or intentionally added during the production of the ceramics. This results in a definition of the production, scale, and concept of a regional economy.

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