The Odeion: July 13-24, 2008
During the last two weeks of this short campaign at the Odeion, the eastern part of the orchestra could be exposed almost entirely. At the end of the excavation we have now uncovered more or less one third of the whole Odeion, so our goal of this year could be achieved. Now the visitors can enjoy a very nice view on the eastern part of the building, with the extremely well preserved corridor with walls of more than 6m high as eye catcher.
Excavation was just as the first week concentrated on an area of ca. 12 x 5 m between the stage and the podium of the auditorium, delimiting the semicircular orchestra. Because a large concentration of building blocks was situated in the western part, the digging activity advanced a bit slower than was expected. However, some interesting architectural remains were present in this collapse. At the top levels in the northern part of the trench the blocks probably fell down from the back wall of the cavea. Most of them were reused blocks, originally used in other buildings. Also in the lower layers, a lot of huge stones were unearthed and removed by the crane, but they were not that densely piled upon each other. Different sizes of fluted architrave-frieze blocks, discovered in the southern area close to the stage, are almost certainly the scarce remains of the scaenae frons and suggest it was made up of 3 levels, which was not unusual for covered theatres of this size in the Roman Empire. Unfortunately, these architectural fragments of the scene building were not numerous, so it is very likely that most of them were taken away after late Antiquity and reused in the Ottoman road to Isparta. There is for example almost no trace of cornices or parts of the aediculae. In our second week, however, a small part of a large inscription on an architrave was discovered in that zone, so most likely it has to be considered as a part of the building inscription. The four letters were 8,5 cm high and were identical to another small inscription part, found nearby in 2005. We dispose, however, of too few parts to make any reconstruction of the original text.
Especially just above the late antique walking level some special original parts of the Odeion were discovered. Next to two large but plain benches, also two large square bases were found of ca. 1m x 1m. One was nicely decorated with lion paws at all four corners and was probably a support of a stele. Similar bases were found in the past at the Upper Agora. The other one was totally plain, and can maybe have functioned as the base for the central support for the roof of the Odeion, also considering it's find spot close to the middle of the orchestra.
Not far away from this place, the most exciting discovery was made: a special capital of very high quality, measuring ca. 1.10 m x 1.10 m but only ca. 0.30 m high. This exquisite art piece is made of four bands on top of each other with decorations: an egg-list at the bottom, followed by a guioche (vegetal band) with slightly different motifs at the four sides, next a fine band with leafs and finally at the top a Lesbian kyma. Because of some stylistic details can the capital be dated in the early years of the reign of emperor Augustus. The capital was originally placed on a column with a diameter of 82 cm at the top, and contained also big dowel holes at the surface, suggesting that a huge abacus plate was placed on it. A logic interpretation of this capital would be than that it functioned as the main support of the roof system of the Odeion, which has been explained in the first web report. Nonetheless, the early date of the capital needs further investigation as other parts of the Odeion are dated not earlier than 50 - 75 A.D. (outer wall of the cavea). Because the orchestra was usually the first part to be constructed, it is not unlikely that the capital really belongs to such an early phase, but no precise date for the original construction of the orchestra could be obtained yet,. It is doubtful if future test soundings can provide more date as the podium wall of the auditorium has been totally rebuilt from top to bottom in late Antiquity. At the end of the campaign the construction has been exposed for ca. one third of its total length and it is even more clear than before that it is totally built with reused blocks. At least four different types of moulded blocks were integrated as a protruding cornices in the wall creating so a quite heterogeneous layout. At the very end of the campaign also an incised Christian cross of 12 x 8 cm has been found on the westernmost part of the exposed wall.
Excavation has now stopped for this season in the Odeion, but some large stone blocks still have to be removed by the crane next week. It is not known yet if excavation will be continued here next year. The most interesting zone still remaining, being the scene building itself, is almost totally covered by the Ottoman road to Isparta, but it would also be worthwhile to investigate the area around the entrance to the corridor and the surroundings of the south-eastern corner of the Odeion.