July 7-20, 2007
For me personally, the start of the campaign was a very bitter note. Continuing problems with spine and stomach ulcers, led me to decide to convalesce at home (be it with the help of five dozen volunteers and professionals). Moreover, my 87-year-old former landlord, from whom I bought my house and who throughout the years had become both a second father and a real partner for me, was still in a very critical condition after a severe brain haemorrhage after a fall early in February. So, I was prevented from joining the largest part of my team, which took off from Brussels on July 7 and 8. Living close to the airport, I saw the plane passing--heading for the first campaign since 1969 without me.
This bitter note was somewhat softened by the fact that the evening before the first departure, I received an e-mail with the wonderful news that I had received one of the four Methusalem projects granted to my university, a new class of projects, the largest ever in this country, recently created by the Ministry of Science Policy of the Flemish government (Min. F. Moerman) and attributed after a very thorough international peer reviewing selection. In practice, it means, that for the next six years before my mandatory retirement, I will not have to participate in any grant competition or beg for money to keep my project running.
As far as the Turkish part of the campaign is concerned, we were also very fortunate, beside the continuous help since two decades of Haci Ali Ekinci, Director of the Burdur Museum, to receive once more two magnificent temsilcis (representatives from the Ministry of Culture): Mr. Yasar Yilmaz (Konya Museum) and Mr. Baykal Aydinbek (General Directorate of Antiquities at Ankara), respectively responsible for the urban activities and those in the countryside.
Already in the first days of the campaign, the team in Turkey, where my colleague Prof. Jeroen Poblome, assisted by three dozen of postdoctoral and predoctoral researchers, replaced me, the first friends and important visitors could be welcomed to the site. They included Greet Danckaerts, the administrative secretary of our Faculty of Arts at Leuven, accompanied by her family, and Dr. Lut Vandeput, currently director of the British Archaeological Institute at Ankara, and her husband Dr. Veli Köse. Lut was my first assistant and doctoral student ever and got promoted on a handbook of Roman Imperial Architectural Decoration in Asia Minor. She and Veli were also the first "Sagalassos couple." A few years ago, Veli wrote a Ph.D. on the grave types and burial customs at Sagalassos, which in the mean time has been published as a monograph. Lut left us nearly ten years ago for a career at the University of Cologne (Germany), before moving to Ankara. In the mean time, she got her own survey projects at Melli and at Pednelissos in Southern Pisidia. Anyhow, it was great to see them back in the place where their careers started.
On a daily basis, our experienced guides Dirk Menten and Ilse Desmedt also give free tours to visitors to the site. Later during the week, a camera team from the Turkish channel Digiturk followed the activities in and around Sagalassos for a television program that will be broadcast later this year.
During the second week of the campaign, election fever was also rising at Aglasun as on Sunday, July 22, a new Turkish parliament will be elected. The center of the town is littered with propaganda for the different parties participating in the elections, flyers for the local candidates are being distributed, and buses adorned with flags, posters and party logos drive through the streets of Aglasun from dusk till dawn. Everybody is talking about politics these days and the villagers as well as the team members are eager to know what the outcome of the vote is going to be.
Because of the elections, last week counted six working days instead of the usual five. Normally the weekend is on Friday and Saturday, as the workmen go to the mosque and to the weekly market on Friday. As the elections are on Sunday the beginning of the weekend has shifted one day to Saturday. Next week though we have the privilege of a short week of only four days.
Also this week, Sagalassos has been victim to cold northerly winds lashing into the site lying in the Taurus Mountains. Although the sun was shining without mercy, the winds made it quite chilly in the morning and the dust and the sand blown into the air made work on the site quite difficult. The team working on the southwestern edge of the Roman Baths was so hard hit by unremitting gusts of sand and dust that they had to join the other team working on the southern side of the baths. As you can see on pictures each of the workmen has their own way of preventing the sand getting in the eyes. At the end of the week though, the wind disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared. However this did not make working conditions much better as temperatures now reached values close up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 F).
This week also Dr. Michel Goetinck, who as a newcomer had been assisting the team for the first two weeks of the campaign, has left the project. Dr. Goetinck, who has a keen interest in archaeology and history, was a great asset, and we hereby wish to thank him once again for his care and attention and hope to see him once again as a project member next year.
See daily life 2006