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ANMED Issue: 2007-5
 
Perge 2006
Haluk ABBASOĞLU
 

The excavation and repair work at Perge in 2006 was conducted from the 25th of July to the 9th of October by the Centre for Archaeological Research in Antalya Region of İstanbul University’s faculty of Letters, with the permission issued by the Directorate General of Museums and Cultural Heritage. Our excavation was financed by the Directorate General of Museums and Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, as well as by DÖSİMM, by the Administrative Secretariat of Scientific Research of İstanbul University, by the Suna & İnan Kıraç Research Institute on Mediterranean Civilizations (AKMED) and the Cultural Awareness Foundation. The Turkish Historical Foundation also made a symbolic contribution. We would like to express our appreciation to all these institutions for their support.

Excavations in the Western Necropolis:
Excavations in the Western necropolis in 2006 were conducted in two main areas. The first was Lot 169, where systematic excavations have continued since 1997 and where many burial types have been unearthed. The second area is Lot 159 located ca. 500 m. south of the west gate; illegal looting excavations were noted here in 2006.

The first work in the first area was to the southwest of tomb M9 uncovered in 2003. The work exposed the area between the west peribolos wall of M9 and the northsouth wall to its west. Here we found another wall built coarsely from bricks and rubble, extending in a northsouth direction which probably belongs to the extension made to the west peribolos wall. This wall terminates 2.50 m. to the south. In previous years in this area the surface and surroundings of the bedrock to the east of the third row of tombs –mainly Early Roman period sarcophagi– extending toward the slope of the acropolis, was cleaned. A room measuring 18 sq.m. was uncovered in this area of worked bedrock. The room contained two chamosorions (L64 and L65), oriented in a north-south direction, the lids are missing and another sarcophagus (L66) of local limestone lying to their south.

The second area excavated in the Western necropolis contained two sarcophagi whose lids were partially exposed in 2006; we noted illegal excavations here, and consequently initiated scientific excavations. This sarcophagus (L60) is of local limestone and has a plain undecorated lower section and a lid in the eastern pediment of which is a low relief carved Medusa head. It was placed on a base having stylised lion paws. To the south of this sarcophagus, another sarcophagus of limestone (L61) was uncovered; L61 has shield reliefs in the pediments of its double-sided pitched roof type lid with acroteria, and its undecorated lower section carries a six-line inscription in ancient Greek. Small finds from this sarcophagus were 1 gold earring, 2 glass beads and 1 bronze object. Between these two sarcophagi, a third (L62) was found resting on the same base as L60. It is also of limestone and has an undecorated lower section and a pitched lid. To their east is another sarcophagus (L63) orientated in a north-south direction; it also has an undecorated lower section and a low double-sided lid. This sarcophagus had not been previously disturbed and consequently, the full skeletons of five individuals were found in situ and the burial gifts included bronze coins, glass and baked clay unguentaria, bronze mirrors, a bone marionette, bronze ring and applique, an iron strigilis and bronze lap decoration. Work to the east of L63 revealed three more undisturbed sarcophagi (L67, L68, L69), all with rectangular lower sections and low pitched lids. We uncovered in situ skeletons and various burial gifts – though not very rich. At the end of the 2006 season in this area, a limestone sarcophagus (L70), with an undecorated lower section, to the east of L68, with a very richly decorated lid was found. On the east pediment of its lid is carved a relief of a Medusa head and there is a shield in the west pediment. In addition to all these sarcophagi, two limestone ostotheks (Os.1 and Os.2) were found – one to the south of L62, the other to the south of L63; both having pitched roof-type lids, and door decoration on the short sides of their lower sections. These ostotheks are first in situ examples found from Perge (Fig. 1).

In this excavated area a baked clay pipeline extending in a north-south direction was found, which should be related to the ancient waterway to the north of the lot. Also in this area containing simple sarcophagi carved from local stone, we have uncovered many bone and pottery fragments which are fine cut. Most of these pottery pieces are of high quality Sagalassos ware produced in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. In addition, the workshop and master names recorded in ancient Greek and in the Latin stamps on the amphora handles will provide us with important results in respect to dating, commerce and workshops. In addition to the large number of ceramic pieces, large numbers of deliberately cut animal bones were also found, indicating the existence of a workshop working bone at Perge (Fig. 2). This area could have been used as a bone workshop and employed as a dump area for a pottery workshop.

Excavations in the Colonnaded Street:
The 2006 work in the Colonnaded street of Perge was conducted in two trenches, namely north and south. In the south trench, the area to the east of the postaments between streets J10 and J11, in the widened west gallery of the north-south Colonnaded street (Ja) was entirely exposed. To the east and south of the base in front of the 26th postament, the right hand and toes of a bronze statue and a marble statue base with guilloche decoration, formerly supporting a bronze statue, fallen from its base, were uncovered.

In the north trench, work was conducted to the south of the junction and to the north of street J10, located in the widened part of the Colonnaded street. The part of the gallery and the street to the east of the entranceways of the 8th, 9th and 10th shops were entirely excavated and cleaned. Between the small Byzantine church built on top of the Roman water canal in the middle of the main street and the area under excavation, a wall carelessly built with spolia and a cist-type Byzantine tomb were uncovered (Fig. 3).

Studies for the Mosaic Corpus:
Within the frame of the mosaic corpus project led by AIEMA (Association internationale pour l’étude de la mosaïque antique) centred in Paris, we began the documentation, repair and conservation work of the in-city mosaics at Perge, firstly in the agora in 2004 with the financial support from the Vehbi Koç Foundation – the Suna & İnan Kıraç Research Institute on Mediterranean Civilizations (AKMED); in 2006 the work focussed in the south baths and south basilica portico (Fig. 4). The mosaics in the apodyterium, to the north, west and east of the palaestra and the opus sectile flooring of the frigidarium of the south baths were re-opened, documented with modern methods, measured with a total station, photographed; and their positions within the architecture were examined. For repair purposes the mosaics were mechanically cleaned with water, brush and dentistry tools; the soil and plant roots between the tesserae were cleaned; the edges of the surviving parts were fixed with a special mortar; and those tesserae whose places could be identified were re-placed. When the documentation work was completed the mosaics were then covered with geotextile and with washed fine river sand (Fig. 5).

Conservation, Repair and Landscaping Work:
In 2006 the marble and granite columns of the portico between the Colonnaded street, the Hellenistic towers and the agora, to the west of the South Basilica and the palaestra of the south baths were repaired and a total of 22 columns were re-erected with the support of the Cultural Awareness Foundation.

The newly excavated tombs were covered by an undulated roof, as in lot 169, and then encircled by a wire fence.

All of the baked clay, glass and metal finds, as well as coins uncovered were cleaned properly and were completed by the restoration specialist and students. At the end of the work, 42 items worth cataloguing and 143 items worthy of study were handed over to the Antalya Archaeological Museum.

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