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ANMED Issue: 2009-7
 
Excavations at Rhodiapolis in 2008
Nevzat ÇEVİK - İsa KIZGUT - Süleyman BULUT
 
The work in 2008 covered completion of excavations 2006-2007 at the agora/two-story stoa and theater; continuation of excavations at the church and building G; start of excavations at the temple and proximity, as well as the meeting hall of the round temple complex; and new excavations to perceive the ancient earthquakes.

Theater

Excavations at the theater had started in 2006 and continued in 2007; its partially excavated east parodos was fully exposed this year (Fig. 1). Two-meter-thick filling was removed from this partially excavated area, located between the east analemma – Opramoas Mausoleum and the two-story stoa, and the east entrance to the theater was exposed down to the original level of the stone pavement. Probably due to destruction in the later periods, this stone pavement was not found in the corridor between the corner of the stage building and the beginning of the orchestra. The size and shape of the equilateral triangular shaped area between the end of the analemma and the beginning of the orchestra were altered due to the Roman period building (Meeting hall) that was added later to the south of the parodos. As were found in the western inner corner, stairs were also found in the eastern inner corner of the cavea, and the east and north parts of the stage building were uncovered

Meeting Hall

A new building was encountered by tracing the remains of a wall that was uncovered in the trenches of the stage building and parodos, and it was partially excavated in 2008 (Figs. 1-2). Work on this new building was undertaken together with the work at the parodos and stage building for they are interconnected and inside each other. This rectangular building measures 14.40x13.12 m. and extends up to the terrace wall of the stoa. As the service path extending on top of the terrace cannot be excavated and its upper part had collapsed, the façade structure of the building is not known for the time being. As much as can be seen, the upper story of the twostory stoa forms a fore-area of 9 m. for this building. A narrow corridor extends between the end of the stoa and the building, which must be accessed from this side. This corridor sandwiched tightly in between is a most successful example of the urban character of Rhodiapolis in a narrow area; however, as it was built after the stage building, the back (western) wall of the meeting hall could be fit in only by cutting the stage building partially. Its exterior walls are built mostly with blocks while only some intermediary parts in the back wall were built with rubble. The building has four rows of seats inside, which are divided into two cunei with a staircase in the middle. The excavations also brought to light the podium of a monument in front of the south wall, facing the Opramoas monument. This podium built with cut blocks measures 2.02 m. wide and 3.08 m. long. This podium seems to belong to the podium block with lion paw and the statue pedestals uncovered in the stoa in 2008.

Agora / Two-Story Stoa

The two-story stoa measuring 60x9 m. extends in the northeast-southwest direction in the city center. Its 35-meter-long section was uncovered in the first two years of the excavations and the remaining 25-meterlong section was brought to light in this campaign. The agora area extending all along the stoa measures 20 m. wide at the south end of the stoa and only 6.5 m. at the north end. It was excavated only partially and in less depth than necessary in order to keep the carriage road. It was seen to have been paved entirely with mosaics and it was left with a 10-cm-thick earth layer for protection purposes because it will be excavated and restored in the coming campaign after necessary protective measures are taken.

This year’s excavation in the stoa has completed our information about it: There are three doorways in the back wall of the north part (Fig. 3), which is different from the south part; the main entrance on the narrow north side and the column plinths placed apart at equal distances in the middle were uncovered. The stoa’s connection with the urban area to the north was identified partially; thus, a stepped alley climbing up from the south on the outside of the stoa was uncovered. This stepped alley reaches up to the theater terrace. The first excavated areas had not provided enough information to comprehend the supporting system for the superstructure of the 9-m-wide stoa. The six bases and column fragments uncovered in the excavations of the north part revealed the solution – at least for the north part. Square plinths placed at equal distances along the longitudinal axis bear traces for columns of 57 cm. in diameter. The only in situ column uncovered in this area comprises three drums. Restoration work was conducted on the mosaic pavement of the stoa. With a project supported by Akdeniz University, an area of 100 sq. m. was restored and taken under protection. The extant parts show that the mosaic pavement had a decorative composition of large rectangular panels with geometric motifs separated from each other by borders of ivy scrolls; this mosaic pavement covered the entire floor of the stoa (Fig. 4).

Round Temple


Excavations were started at the round temple located to the southwest of the sebasteion (Fig. 5). Only the round temple and its proximity in the whole complex were excavated. Presence of temples dedicated to Fortuna and Nemesis, is known from the inscriptions of this temple may be dedicated to Fortuna but it is very early to speak of it with certainty. With this layout, it could even be a small macellum. The planning of the complex with many buildings facing the temple square and preference for a round layout for a temple (as at Side, Perge and Sagalassos) comprising a tholos on a podium, and the fact that it has strong architectural connections with the Sebasteion also support the hypothesis that it could be a macellum. Then, it is likely that the temple was dedicated to Fortuna because Fortuna was a goddess of trade as well. Another strong hypothesis is that this area was an Asklepieion and the temple was the one dedicated to Asklepios and Hygeia by Herakleitos. This hypothesis is further supported by the fact that inscriptions related to asklepieion were found near this area. Yet, we have to wait until the excavations of the surrounding buildings are completed before we can attain a decisive conclusion.

Building G

The largest complex of the city, what is referred to as the South Building, measures 43x33 m. and its functions remain obscure. Work at this building was done in two stages during this campaign: The first aim was to complete the chronology here by continuing the excavation southward, uncovering the rooms behind the decorated doorways, initiated in the previous campaign; the second aim was to find any clue about the superstructure. Unfortunately, evidence obtained was not satisfactory for either aim. As the rooms continued to be uncovered, it was seen that their floors were pressed earth mixed with small pottery fragments and mortar waste and the areas outside the rooms had natural earth floor; the rooms that had been formed by building new walls incorporating the existing walls were used for various functions. Potshards and decorated and plain fragments belonging to architectural pieces were inventoried and catalogued. The data thus obtained was used to identify the forms and functions of the vessels as well as their numerical proportions. Upon completion of the data work regarding the blocks and fragments, it was foreseen to erect the façade and a project for this purpose was initiated for 2009. The architecture of the lower sections of the original building has been well-preserved, and we hope that pieces that do not belong to the façade will help us to restitute the superstructure; however, no proposals have been made regarding the superstructure. All the materials of the earthquake-stricken superstructure were either reused elsewhere or buried under the filling. Potshards and coins uncovered from the rooms buried under the filling indicate that by the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. the building had lost its original function but was in service with some additions built.

Church

The team led by Assoc. Prof. Dr. E. Akyürek excavated the three-aisled basilica church measuring 25.60x14.58 m. all through the campaign. The church’s origin is identified as the Early Byzantine period and its 7-m.-diameter apse with synthronon was exposed. A chapel of 5.80x4.00 m. adjoins the building on the northeast corner. Along the north side of the church is the episcopal residence. The structures around the church together with the castrum look like a monastery rather than a single church. The pastophoria flanking the apse, the chapel to the north, as well as a 4.50 m. wide area across the aisles in front of the apse, were uncovered. First the excavations of the pastophoria and the chapel were completed. The prothesis has a mosaic floor, a small portion of which was damaged by illicit digs. The chapel’s stone paved floor has survived only in the west while the area near the apse was damaged by treasure hunters. The floor of the diakonikon was entirely destroyed. The ground filling in the chapel and diakonikon consists mostly of rubble. Only a few architectural pieces with decoration were uncovered in these three rooms. After the excavation of these three rooms was completed, four trenches were dug in the east part of the naos, uncovering a 4.50-m-wide area before the apse. The trench of 4.50x3.00 m. in the north side aisle is particularly rich in small finds. A templon balustrade decorated in openwork was uncovered here broken into pieces due to collapsing walls, but can be completed almost entirely, and a baluster decorated with fish scales and floral motifs was also found (Fig. 6). Both of these pieces probably belong to the 6th century. This trench also had an intact opus tessellatum mosaic pavement. The nave was excavated in two trenches, and the floor of the altar, a small piece of opus sectile flooring and the templon stylobate were exposed. In parallel to the excavations, the rows of the synthronon, which were damaged by treasure hunters and uncovered by us in 2007, were partially restored and reinforced (Fig. 7). Fresco fragments uncovered in situ on the walls of the north chapel, prothesis and south aisle wall were reinforced by restorers. At the end of the campaign, floors were covered with geotextile and pumice powder was spread on it for protection until restoration work starts on them.

Wall Sounding for Obtaining Data about Ancient Earthquakes

An observation trench was dug in an area that collapsed due to earthquake in order to obtain data regarding the chronology of ancient earthquakes in this region where the fault lines can be easily followed today and which is known to have experienced many earthquakes (Fig. 8). The work was carried out by a team led by T. M. P. Duggan and comprised soundings around the south wall of a villa located 40 m. northeast of the agora. The characteristics of the line of breaking apart between the intact lower part of the wall and the fallen upper part were evaluated together with the pottery finds under and around the wall; their positions and comparative investigation into the mortar showed that the crack had been caused by an earthquake probably sometime in the Roman period (when the villa was built), but the wall was knocked down probably by the earthquake of 1926 centered at Meisti and at a magnitude of 7.8 because the mortar above the breaking line of the wall is much whiter while that inside the wall is dark grey. Ageing under the elements and color change rates display the great difference in time between the formation of the crack and the fall. The south wall of the villa, which has been explored for the purpose of earthquake studies, had fallen southward and separated about 8 cm. from the main body of the building, but the north-south wall extending east of the villa to which this south wall was connected does not exhibit any shifting or break. This shows that the fall here was caused by an earth tremor hitting from the south, not by a landslide. The profile of the sounding revealed that the first phase of the villa dated to the 2nd century A.D. and it is highly likely that this first phase collapsed in the earthquake of 240 A.D.; the upper layer identified with a 4th century coin was probably added in the 4th century and this collapsed due to later earthquakes.

Inscriptions

As before, the inscriptions from the excavations at Rhodiapolis were studied by a team led by Prof. Dr. B. İplikçioğlu, a member of our team. As in the preceding two campaigns, well-preserved new inscriptions with rich content have been uncovered this year too. These include: missing parts of the inscription honoring physician Herakleitos; two letters sent to Rhodiapolis by Emperor Severus Alexander; people’s council of Rhodiapolis honoring Ptolemaios, son of Polyperkhaon; honorary inscription of the statue of Emperor Vespasian; physician Herakleitos’ commissioning a temple for Asklepios and Hygeia; graffiti by fans of “Greens”; votive inscription of Hermas to Helios; people’s council of Rhodiapolis honoring Idaroe, daughter of Neikophon; and many fragments belonging to the Opramoas Monument.
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