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Project leader: University of Leuven (Belgium)

Field director: Prof. Jeroen Poblome

Participating bodies: University of Leuven, IBAM-CNR

Site location: Sagalassos (Ağlasun) Turchia


Date of activity: Since 1990 the Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project has been working each summer with a team of international and multidisciplinary experts and students.

Brief description: The ancient town of Sagalassos stands on Mt. Ağlasun in the heart of south-western Turkey. The site, known in the modern era by the Turkish name of Bodrum, has remained more or less unspoilt and the nearest town, Ağlasun, is 7 km away. Situated in a strategic position on the side of Mt. Ağlasun, at the vertiginous height of 1450-1600 m a.s.l., the ancient town dominated the fertile valleys below and the rich water sources of the ancient region of Psidia. It was also positioned on the route linking Pergamon with the most important ports of southern Turkey, Side, and Attaleia (Antalya).

The town’s toponym tells of ancient origins, perhaps in the 3rd millennium B.C. during the region’s conquest by the Hittites, however, it was only when Alexander the Great conquered Anatolia that Sagalassos became a wealthy and prosperous town. From the 2nd century B.C. onwards, the town’s political and religious centre was reorganised and monumentalised in the tradition of the great Hellenistic cities. During the Roman dominion, the town reached the height of its wealth and power, earning the title of metropolis of Pisidia.

Devastated by the plague and repeated earthquakes, the town was abandoned during the 7th century A.D. and re-founded on the present site of modern Ağlasun, a few kilometres away.

Sagalassos, now completely buried, was rediscovered during the 18th century by European visitors who ventured along the impracticable Turkish roads.

Since 1990, an international team, led by the University of Leuven (Belgium), carries out annual excavation campaigns on the ancient site. The research has exposed a monumental centre, arranged on terraces, with magnificent public and religious buildings: two agorai, an odeon, a sumptuous bath complex, a theatre, numerous fountains, and temples.

The first surveys discovered a vast pottery making quarter. The excavations have brought to light several workshops of Roman date producing fine ware, Sagalassos Red Slip Ware.

A team from IBAM-CNR, coordinated by the Institute’s director Daniele Malfitana, participates in the Belgium mission in several roles. In fact, a project studying the pottery produced in the pottery making quarter during the Roman period and a multidisciplinary study, “Urban Mansion”, dedicated to the study and analysis of a vast building complex are ongoing. Giovanni Leucci and Lara de Giorgi carry out geophysical surveys for the mission, and several students from the course on “Methodologies, material culture and craft working production in the classical world”a“Methodologies, material culture and craft working production in the classical world” also participate.

Site typology and date: Hellenistic and Roman town

Student participants: Yes

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