Sagalassos Survey – Pisidia Survey Project

Location: near Ağlasun; Burdur Province

Years: 1985-1991, 1993

Project Director: Stephen Mitchell

Participants: Marc Waelkens, Edwin Owens, Sarah Cormack (1985, 1987-1988), C. Martin (1985), Gregory Horsley (1985-1987), Adnan Şakar (1985), Macit Akça (1985), Robin Fursdon (1986-1987, 1989), Roger Bruton (1986), Mark Critchley (1986), Helen Thackray (1986), Roger and Miranda McKearney (1986), Mustafa Büyükkolancı (1987), Christopher Lightfoot (1987, 1989), William Hargrove (1987), Claire Robinson (1987), Anthea Cudworth (1987), Duncan Mallace (1987), Mark Willy (1987), Kirsty Norman (1987), Sabri Aydal (1988), Y. Day (1988), A. Millard (1988), M. Lodewijckx (1988-1989), R. Degeest (1988-1989), L. Vandeput (1988-1989), C. Nuitjen (1988), D. Roberts (1988), R. Johnson (1988), S. Corker (1988), A. Schulz (1988), D. Pohl (1988), Viaene (1989), Scheltens (1989), H. Bracke (1989), A. De Daele (1989), P. De Jonghe (1989), R. Harrison (1989), A. Young (1989), F. Richards (1989), Selçuk Baser (1989).

Government Representatives: Mehmet Armağan (1985), Lüfti Önel (1986), Sabri Aydal (1987), Osman Ermişer (1988), Muhsin Endoğru (1989), Ali Harmankaya (1990), Muhammet Alkan (1991), Nurhan Ülgen (1993), Aliye Yamancı (1993)

Funding: British Academy, BIAA, Craven Committee of Oxford University, Roman Society, National Fund for Scientific Research (Belgium), Flemish Ministry of Education Turkish, Prime Ministry of the Flemish Community (Belgium), Research Council of the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgian Fund for Collective Fundamental Research, Ministry of Flemish Community (Foreign Relations), ASLK/CGER Bank, Belgian tour operator ORION, “Friends of Sagalassos”, Belgian Fund for Collective Fundamental Research, Belgian Programme on Interuniversity Poles of Attraction, National Bank of Belgium, Interleasing, E. G. Verstraete & Vanhecke N. V., Agfa-Gevaert films, BACOB Bank, Generale Bank, E.N.G. Videohouse, Marlux, Georg Fischer+GF, Tractebel Industries, Draka Polva, UPDATE, Service Clubs of Northern Limburg, Rotary Zeebrugge-Oosthoek



A new survey was initiated at Cremna between 5 July and 3 August 1985, as part of the larger Pisidia Survey Project that had begun with Pisidian Antioch in 1982.  For three days of the season, a foray was made into Sagalassos, another metropolis of Pisidia, to investigate the situation.  In a preliminary comparison of the actual site to the site plans created a century earlier, it was found that the plans were fairly accurate, if not exhaustive.  Many notes were taken, and it was determined that much work was required at this site.

So a full season of work resumed at Sagalassos in 1986 between 2 July and 12 August.  Theodolites and electro-magnetic measuring devices were used by the surveyors to come up with an accurate plan of the city centre.  The upper agora, Heroon, Bouleuterion, Doric Temple, and Temenos were recorded in great detail.  From an analysis of the architectural quality, it was determined that during late Hellenistic times this region had either attracted skilled craftsmen from elsewhere or developed an advanced local tradition.

In 1987 the survey continued as the city plan was created for area east and south of the centre, including all public monuments.  Some corrections and additions could be made to the 1892 plan.  A rock-cut aqueduct, a potters’ quarter, and a very large domestic area were found, and taken together showed Sagalassos to be the largest of Pisidia’s metropolises.  In the survey of public architecture, they focused on the upper city, studying a small official building, the agora, some arches, a large building with Doric porticos, a shrine, and a macellum.

The fourth season occurred in 1988, this time expanding the civic survey west and north.  Some necropolises, an early Christian church, and some stretches of Roman road were discovered.  They specifically studied the remains of the Lower Agora, Odeion, Nymphaeum, and Sanctuary of Apollo Klarios.  The pottery quarter revealed the position of some ten kilns, and produced lots of sherds, misfired and rejected pots, and debris.

In 1989 the survey was extended to the west, studying the domestic quarters and some large cisterns, in addition to a Roman temple and a collapsed fortification wall.  In-depth studies or surveys were conducted on the Temple of Apollo Klarios, Temple of Antoninus Pius, and the Roman baths, which is one of the largest ever found in Asia Minor.  The main street of the lower city, running north and south, was mapped, and the water supply system was studied, bringing to light three aqueducts of Hellenistic or Roman date.  Marc Waelkens initiated a small excavation of the ‘potters’ quarter’ to the east of the ancient theatre.  Finally, a geological survey was undertaken, wherein the material of the clay and pottery and some of the site’s rocks were analysed. 

During 1990 the permit for Sagalassos was transferred to Marc Waelkens of the University of Leuven.  Until 1993, preliminary reports on the Sagalassos project, which grew rapidly into one of the largest research projects in Turkey, were published in Anatolian Studies.  Thereafter, preliminary and specialist reports appeared in a series of monographs published by the University of Leuven.

Work continued between 11 July and 22 August 1990, and excavation was carried out on three areas around the site.  The first area was a Late Hellenistic fountain house and a basilica containing some mosaics.  The second was a Doric Temple and the terrace in front, where the collapsed blocks were drawn in situ before proceeding.  Some votive statuettes of domestic animals were found in the fill, but no inscriptions exist to indicate to whom the temple was dedicated.  Lastly, two long trenches were dug at the potter’s quarter.  During the course of excavation in the first trench the remains of some seven people were uncovered, together with some burial items.  The second trench revealed some terrace walls, two dumps, and burial urns.  Smaller research projects were taken on by individual team members, such as creating a typology of local pottery, analysing clay and sherd samples, restoring portions of some buildings, and studying the human remains discovered in earlier seasons.

 Between 13 July to 5 September 1991 excavation work continued, focusing this season on the same three sites.  The fountain house yielded sherds and some sculpture, and was found to be fed by an underground spring.  To its east, excavation in the public square revealed at least six occupation layers, and work in the basilica revealed a floor mosaic.  The basilica was also shown to have been burned shortly after its original construction, and later destroyed by some sort of catastrophe.  The Doric Temple and terrace continued to be excavated, yielding painted fragments, jewellery, figurines, ceramics, and coins, and revealing a drainage system in the original floor.  In the potter’s quarter, three ancient terrace walls were found, as well as further burial items such as urns and cremated bone fragments.  The western aqueducts were investigated further and found to follow the path of a road.  Individual research projects included a study of local and imported lamp finds, investigations into the types of limestone used architecturally, and research on the theatre façade and western basilica.  Many sherds were drawn, and hundreds of small finds were restored.

Work at Sagalassos continued between 3 July to 19 August 1993, with some additional time spent 21 to 28 August surveying the district just south and southeast of the central site.  In the area around the fountain house, a sewer system dating to the second century AD was discovered.  The large public building excavated during the previous season was identified, with the help of inscriptions, as a library built around 120 AD by T. Flavius Severianus Neon, who had likely been inspired by the Celsus Library at Ephesos.  The library’s surrounding areas were excavated to reveal older Hellenistic buildings.  Excavation at the upper agora continued, revealing a portico, stairway, and chapel, and showing that Sagalassos continued to flourish during the fourth and early fifth centuries AD.  The lower agora was investigated, and showed to be more of a commercial centre, with a row of shops partially excavated.  Finally, the water supply of the city and the aqueducts continued to be studied.  Two new aqueducts were discovered, as was a street drain, hydraulic installations, some pipes, and the branches of a sewer, indicating the existence of a sophisticated system for supplying, distributing, and draining water.


1986: ‘The Year’s Work’ Anatolian Studies 36: 8-10

Mitchell, S., Waelkens, M. 1987: ‘Sagalassus and Cremna’ Anatolian Studies 37: 37-47

Mitchell, S., Waelkens, M. 1988: ‘Cremna and Sagalassus 1987’ Anatolian Studies 38: 53-65

Mitchell, S., Owens, E., Waelkens, M. 1989: ‘Ariassos and Sagalassos’ Anatolian Studies 39: 63-77

Waelkens, M., Mitchell, S., Owens, E. 1989: ‘Sagalassos 1989’ Anatolian Studies 40: 185-198

Waelkens, M., Harmankaya, A., Viaene, W. 1991: ‘The Excavations at Sagalassos 1990’ Anatolian Studies 41: 197-213

Waelkens, M., Owens, E., Hasendonckx, A., Arıkan, B. 1992: ‘The Excavations at Sagalassos 1991’ Anatolian Studies 42: 79-98

Waelkens, M., Owens, E. 1994: ‘The Excavations at Sagalassos 1993’ Anatolian Studies 44: 169-186

See also:

Waelkens, M. 1992:  Die neuen Forschungen (1985-1989) und die belgischen Ausgrabungen (1990-1991) in Sagalassos, in E. Schwertheim (ed.), Forschungen in Pisidien. Bonn: 43-60

Waelkens, M. (ed.) 1993: Sagalassos 1: First General Report on the Survey (1986-1989) and Excavations (1990-1991). Leuven

Waelkens, M., Poblome, J. (eds.) 1993: Sagalassos 2: Report on the Third Excavation =Campaign of 1992. Leuven

Waelkens, M., Poblome, J. (eds.) 1995: Sagalassos 3: Report on the Fourth Excavation Campaign of 1993. Leuven

Waelkens, M., Poblome, J. (eds.) 1997: Sagalassos 4: Survey and Excavation Campaigns of 1994 & 1995 Report. Leuven

Waelkens, M., Loots, L. (eds.) 2000: Sagalassos 5/1: Report on the survey and excavation campaigns of 1996 and 1997. Leuven

Waelkens, M., Loots, L. (eds.) 2000: Sagalassos 5/2: Report on the survey and excavation campaigns of 1996 and 1997. Leuven

Degryse, P., Waelkens, M. (eds.) 2008: Sagalassos 6: Geo- and Bio-Archaeology at Sagalassos and in its Territory. Leuven

Horsley, G.H.R. 1989: ‘Two New Milestones from Pisidia’ Anatolian Studies 39: 79-84

Vandeput, L. 1992: ‘The Theatre-Façade at Sagalassos’ Anatolian Studies 42: 99-117

Vandeput, L. 1993: ‘Honour Where Honour is due. Regional Features on Honorific Monuments of Pisidia?’ Anatolian Studies 43: 193-202

Donners, K., Waelkens, M., Deckers, J. 2002: ‘Water mills in the area of Sagalassos: a disappearing ancient technology’ Anatolian Studies 52: 1-17

Vermoere, M., Six, S., Poblome, J., Degryse, P., Paulissen, E., Waelkens, M., Smets., E. 2003: ‘Pollen Sequences from the City of Sagalassos (Pisidia, Southwest Turkey)’ Anatolian Studies 53: 161-173

Vionis, A.K., Poblome, J., Waelkens, M. 2009: ‘The hidden material culture of the Dark Ages.  Early medieval ceramics at Sagalassos (Turkey): new evidence (ca AD 650-800)’ Anatolian Studies 59: 147-165

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