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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The N-S colonnaded street with the blocking wall in between the repaired older towers
View of the northwest side of the southeast tower, with the blocking wall to the right
View of the blocking wall (left) and of the southwest tower. In the corner are the remains of what may have been an honorific monument or practical structure (start of a staircase?).
The fill of the SW tower mainly consisting of rubble in its lower part
View of the walls of the west side of the southeast tower with Hellenistic to early Imperial ashlars with drafted edges below. Above, the material is gradually less well-worked reused stones that are not always laid respecting the horizontality of the courses. In the blocking wall reused column drums are visible.
Reused console, which most probably originated from the partially collapsed Roman Baths

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

N-S Colonnaded Street - South Gate: July 18-August 2, 2007

During the last two weeks, excavations on the Colonnaded Street supervised by Ine Jacobs, Koen Demarsin, and Ralf Vandam (all K.U. Leuven) and Tayfun Isiklar (Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir) continued in the area of the assumed Fortification Gate, known as the (Hellenistic) South Gate, some 90 m south of the Lower Agora. In contrast to the previous weeks, these sectors were covered with a thicker packet of sediments, mainly originating from constructions situated both to the west and the east of the street, the supposed towers of the gate. Indeed, our excavations uncovered side walls of two tower-like structures.

[image] In the foreground is the landing in the monumental late fifth or early sixth century A.D. staircase connecting Lower Agora. The N-S colonnaded street is in the background. Until an earthquake somewhere around A.D. 500, this landing had an elegant U-shaped columnar gateway inspired by the architecture of the Second Pompeian Style (of painting).

However, in contrast to what was always supposed, i.e. that there was a Hellenistic Gate here, rebuilt around A.D. 400 as part of the late antique fortification wall enclosing the city center, most of the walls uncovered dated back to a younger period, as was indicated both by ceramic evidence as by the construction technique of the walls themselves. The walls were built up out of reused ashlars below, which, higher up, are combined with smaller ashlars of a worse quality, rubble blocks, brick fragments and pieces of marble crustae. In the western tower, these were still arranged in more or less neat rows; in the eastern tower--and also in the blockage wall in between the two towers--they were not always positioned horizontally. The northern wall of the western tower has also been partially exposed. This might have reused an older structure, possibly part of the Hellenistic defences, made of large ashlars, and supplemented with rubble sections, incorporating also larger reused blocks. All walls consisted of two faces with a mortared rubble fill in between, so that their total thickness ranged from 1.80 to 1.95 m.


View of the oldest Hellenistic(?) course of stones, with a slightly different direction, below the late antique southeast tower

Both "towers" might very well have known an earlier (Hellenistic?) phase, as both underneath the western wall of the east tower and the northern wall of the west tower, a wall with a slightly other orientation became visible. This makes the existence of a Hellenistic South Gate, perhaps demolished during the early Imperial expansion of the city towards the south, probable.

The largest surprise was the blockage wall in between both towers. Before excavation, a few of its building elements had been visible above ground, which led to the theory that this gate had been blocked in Late Antiquity. Indeed, we found that they belonged to a 1.90 m thick blockage, running from east to west over the entire width of the street. It possessed only a shallow foundation in the outer west of the trench, where its construction damaged an earlier water pipe underneath the street surface, but for the most part it was positioned on top of the street slabs. Its construction technique--it possessed a similar facing and thickness--resembled that of the towers and although it only abuts them we now assume it belonged to the same period as their (re)construction. As a consequence, from the moment of its construction, all communication between the major portion of the town and the southern area with the Temple of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius was cut off. Among the spolia (reused stones) figuring in the blocking wall are several column drums, a console that almost certainly came from the partially collapsed Roman Baths, and a fragment of a relief representing a double ax or labris. This motif was extremely popular in southwest Anatolia (especially in Caria) as an attribute of various local versions of the god Apollo (Lairbenos, the Apollo worshiped at Phrygian Hierapolis), in the Mylias (border land between Lycia, Caria, Phrygia and Pisidia) of Kakasbos, and of Zeus Labraundeus in Caria (near Milas). Thus far, it never turned up on a relief at Sagalassos in relation with Apollo Klarios.

The late date of these structures was also suggested by the ceramics recovered from the layers abutting them, which have been preliminary dated to the late sixth and more likely early seventh century, probably after the earthquake that damaged larger parts of the town. This is the more important as it was always assumed that the city was greatly abandoned after that seismic catastrophe, whereas in reality it was once more capable to repair its defences.

[image] Left, conserving the blocking wall, which is built directly on the street pavement (here probably already a section repaired in Late Antiquity) Right, reused stone with a double ax or labris [image]

After a certain period of use, both towers collapsed, mainly in an eastern direction. As a consequence, the collapse layers on top of the pavement in the western part of the area were much more substantial than those in the east, where the number of larger architectural fragments was remarkable. Judging from the stratigraphy encountered on the street, the eastern tower collapsed before the western did, as a first layer of collapse was already situated at the level of the pavement, and was later supplemented by erosion material coming from the higher parts of the street in the north, whereas in the west, the collapse was situated on top of a first, thin, erosion layer.

Excavations in this area have finished for this year. As the situation was completely different from what we expected to find, and as this is apparently a promising area for post-earthquake habitation, we hope to continue its exploration in coming campaigns.

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