Home | Archaeology Magazine | More Digs | AIA
Archaeology's Interactive Dig
July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The eastern water pipe in room 1
View of the maenianum
View of the orchestra wall
Overview of the Odeion after the 2007 campaign

Photos courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project. Click on images to enlarge.
by Bart De Graeve, Katrien Hoet, and Uğur Altay

Odeion: August 12-25, 2007

During the seventh week of the campaign, we excavated only four more days because lots of conservation week was needed to protect the cavea for the winter. As most of the original structures of the benches and their foundations have disappeared, a large area of the natural bedrock is now exposed to the weather. The bedrock on the hill is rocky ophiolite, which is very susceptible to erosion by rain and frost, so a large-scale conservation is very much needed. It was decided to build into the slope several rows of “benches” made of brick tiles. These structures (ca. 70cm) high will prevent most of the erosion and, as they follow the curve of the ancient cavea, give us some impression of the original layout, without however imitating the exact dimensions of the antique spectator’s seats and benches.

In the four days, we excavated in the lowest area of the cavea, in the zone between the so-called maenianum-wall and the orchestra-wall, which was partly uncovered in 2006 in the southeast corner. At the end, we managed to expose the continuation of this orchestra-wall more to the west, so we could get a better idea of the whole. The orchestra wall is better preserved in the new area, and is there ca. 2m high and 1,10m wide. As the distance between this wall and the higher situated maenianum-wall is limited, it means that there was almost no place for rows of benches or seats in this lowest zone of the cavea. Unfortunately, the part in between the two walls is totally destroyed until the natural bedrock, so it is hard to imagine the original layout here. It is, however, likely that there was a horizontal walkway in between with maybe one or two rows of seats.

In the southeast zone of the cavea, the remains of an ancient collapse of a small part of the cavea were discovered. Just on top of the orchestra-wall, a fluted column of 1.46m and a diameter of 60cm is lying in a horizontal position. It is totally unclear were this column was originally standing, but is very likely that it is part of the lower cavea structure, as it was covered by a small part of the maenianum-wall and some large blocks, of which one appeared to be a bench for the spectators (length: 1.52m, width 0.96m, height 0.45m). It is our only bench so far, so we have now a certain start point to establish the original layout of the rows of benches and to calculate better the capacity of the Odeion. We can also use this bench to compare it with the architectural stones used in late antique buildings in the surroundings of the concert hall to check were the original benches have been eventually re-used, as most of them seem to have been removed already in Antiquity. Unfortunately, it is impossible to date the event of the collapse of this part of the cavea, but it is tempting to connect it with the indications we have for a sudden destruction of the scene building in the late fifth or early sixth century A.D. (see 2006).

In the last week, we could also have a closer look to the ceramics that we have found in several promising contexts of the Odeion. This study yielded much more information than expected before, and now it is possible to distinguish 3 different stages in the building operation of the original Odeion. The material from the foundation trench of the semicircular back wall of the cavea and from the deepest walls in Space 3 dates from between A.D. 25 and 75. This means that the first building activity on the hillside took place more or less half a century earlier than we had estimated.

A second phase can be placed between A.D. 100 and 125. In that period, the entrance hall with nice ashlar walls (Rooms 1 and 2) was built against the existing cavea walls, and also in the southeast corner (Space 3) some changes took place. Much later still, between A.D. 180 and 210, the scene was finally built, as was already discovered last year (see 2006). It took thus more or less 150 years before the Odeion was finished in all parts. It is, however, very probable that a temporary podium and scene was used before the end of the second century.

Also, the material that filled up the kiln discovered earlier this campaign (see Report 2) gave us a nice surprise. As already mentioned, the upper layer covering the top of the kiln contained early Imperial material, but the lower fills contained purely Hellenistic material. The ceramics point thus to a much earlier date, somewhere between the late third and the first half of the first century B.C., so making it one of the few early structural remains so far discovered in Sagalassos. Unfortunately, the exact function of the kiln could not be established.

Previous pageNext page

InteractiveDig is produced by ARCHAEOLOGY Magazine
© 2010 Archaeological Institute of America

Home | Archaeology Magazine | More Digs | AIA