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ANMED Issue: 2008-6
 
Excavations at Olympos in 2007
B. Yelda OLCAY UÇKAN
 

The 2007 campaign at Olympos was conducted from the 13th of July to the 24th of August. The team members were Assoc. Prof. Dr. E. Uçkan, Dr. E. Uğurlu, Dr. Z. Demirel Gökalp, Research Asst. M. Bursalı of Anadolu University, lecturer Y. Mergen of Dokuz Eylül University, doctoral candidates G. Öztaşkın, S. Evcim, Ş. Yıldırım, art historians Z. Kaya, D. D. Sarıkaya, B. Aksoy, undergraduate students of art history G. Sayacan, M. Boylu, U. Aral, S. Kılıç, D. Cengiz, Y. Sönmez, M. C. Uzun, student of archaeology O. Baş, student of press and communication E. Çelikel of Anadolu University, doctoral candidate Ö. E. Öncü of İstanbul University, students of architecture İ. Çelik, M. Cinali and E. Kayıkçı of Beykent University and student of fine arts F. Türkmen of Dokuz Eylül University. The state representative was art historian Ü. Çınar of Antalya Museum. We would like to express our thanks to the General Directorate for Cultural Heritage and Museums of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for issuing the permission, to the Suna & İnan Kıraç Research Institute on Mediterranean Civilizations (AKMED), to VASCO Tourism Inc. and to Ekol Mimarlık for providing financial support.

The 2007 campaign mainly involved measuring work using the 3D laser scanner. This work was carried out at the Genoese Castle, Area A, the Church (S5/IX) and the Building with Mosaics. In addition, soundings were dug at Church A, Church (S5/IX) the Building with Mosaics and at the Bathhouse. Archaeological work respecting the Hellenistic and Roman periods of the city concerned surveys conducted to identify and describe the structures from these periods. For this reason, the work mainly intensified in the south part of the city, focusing upon the polygonal city walls of the Hellenistic period,
the baths of the Roman Imperial period, architectural finds from the Roman Imperial period temple in the north of the city and the west part of the Byzantine Basilica in “Area A” which also includes the temple.

Area A
Some of the soundings intended in the 2007 campaign were conducted in the largest religious building in the North City. There is a Byzantine period basilica with a transept within this group of buildings covering a wide area in the North City. Sounding were dug to the east of the basilica, between the two T-shaped piers that separate the nave from the bema, in the north aisle, in the middle and south of the nave, to the north of the stylobate separating the south side aisle. The first evidence gathered is the heavy destruction of the floor for unknown reasons at present. Directly beneath the thin layer of peat, at a depth of about 10 cm. were found pieces of opus sectile, finds indicating the floor was paved with mosaics at least in this area. Another important piece of information gathered is that the building contained rich examples of liturgical architectural sculpture which had been very badly damaged. These examples include: templon architrave with inscription, templon balustrades, a fragment of a Corinthian column capital and engaged column capitals carrying inscriptions.

Another sounding trench in this area was opened in the building with a central layout of a triconch located to the southwest of the south transept. We aimed at clarifying the function of this building which resembles tombs or baptisteries having similar plans in Lycia. Its superstructure built of roughly cut small stones collapsed entirely filling the interior of this small building. This excavation brought to light nothing other than amorphous potshards datable to the early period employed in the mortar of the dome.

The Building with Mosaics
The complex termed the “Building with Mosaics” is located in the northern part of Olympos (Fig. 1). The area was used as the North Necropolis during the Late Roman period and then lost its former function in the Early Byzantine period assuming a new function. As the small springs within the urban area changed their beds, the Building with Mosaics was surrounded with wide marshy grounds on all sides except for the southwest. In order to identify the building phases sounding excavation and cleaning work was planned for the 2007 campaign. For this purpose room H in the east part of the complex was chosen and the vegetation cleaned away. This rectangular room was understood to have been roofed with two small domes and there is one loophole window each in the northeast and southeast walls. The masonry has revealed that rooms H and I were not initially designed as two separate rooms; indeed, this rectangular room was then divided into two by a wall and the superstructure was accordingly modified. Both the layout of H and presence of only loophole windows suggest that this room may have been used as burial chamber. The laser scanner was used to prepare the scale-drawings of the building and sounding excavation in room H began. In the sounding stones, bricks and mortars fragments with mosaics understood to have fallen from the walls as well as a few potshards were found. A depth of about 70 cm. was excavated but the water coming from surrounding streams rose to ground level making further excavation impossible. No evidence for the flooring was found.

S5/IX (Sector 5 / Building IX)
The Sector 5 / Building IX located to the south of the entrance to the North Necropolis, in the south part of the city divided into two by the Olympos Çayı (Akçay) was another area given our attention (Fig. 2). The building was surveyed together with others and mapped in the digital topographic map as part of the cleaning, identification and architectural inventory works that were initiated in Olympos in 2000. The building again entered the work agenda this year and the dense vegetation was removed. This clearing work revealed the stylobate and in situ column bases indicating this building was originally a basilical church. The excavation conducted to clarify the plan exposed numerous scattered large finely cut limestone materials but no evidence regarding the apse was obtained. The stylobate of the north side aisle exposed through this clearing work was mapped onto the existing plan of the building. When the stylobate was uncovered, it was seen that the inter-columnar distances between the in situ column bases were walled off with irregularly cut rubble. In this clearing and excavation work we uncovered potshards and architectural sculpture we think belonged to this building. When the vegetation to the south of the north aisle was cleared away, the profile exposed indicated that the north aisle and the atrium were paved with mosaics. The mosaic floor was reached with the removal of an approximately 40 cm. thick layer of earth and small rubble after the clearing of the rubble from the surface. The mosaic pavement comprises a geometric band on the north and south, flanking floral decoration in the centre. It was cleaned, exposed, documented and then covered in fine sand, earth and rubble. Elements of architectural sculpture, such as fragments of balustrades with openwork were also excavated.

The cleaning, the sounding excavation and plan layout work here show Building S5/IX is a three aisled basilical church with an atrium. Potshards, elements of architectural sculpture and the flooring indicate at the earliest a 6th century date. Nevertheless, after the nave and south aisle of the basilica were damaged, the north wall of the north aisle underwent a second phase of construction which can be understood to date from the 12th century from the materials and masonry of the room constructed in the north.

Roman Baths
The Large Baths of the Roman Imperial period dated to the reign of Vespasian (r. 69-79) were documented, transferred to digital media and mapped in the city plan. The plan type will be clarified when the rooms are clearly identified. A sounding trench was dug in the southwest corner of the large hall in order to determine the level of the floor and so to calculate the depth of deposit accumulated inside the building that will be removed if the building is to be excavated (Fig. 3). This sounding was dug to determine the floor level, enabling the amount of filling inside the building to be calculated and acquiring information regarding the floor pavement of the large hall and presence of any heating system if any finds were uncovered. As is the case with many other sites within the city, the sounding inside the Large Baths was halted without attaining its purpose because of the quantity of ground water collecting in the trench. Pottery finds from the sounding mainly indicate an Early Byzantine date in the 4th-6th centuries, while one amphora bottom and terra sigillata belonging to an open vessel are dated to the Roman period – possibly to the 2nd century A.D. Soundings carried out this year have clearly shown the primary problem in conducting excavations in the city is the matter of drainage. Next year’s programme will therefore include the cleaning of the original drainage canals and the stream bed they lead to, all are presently blocked, in order to redress the present high level of ground water and so permit further excavation work.

Signposting
The ancient city of Olympos has features different from other ancient cities due to its location. The ancient city is located within forest and national park but it is also on the route to the beach for daily excursionists and for those who over-night at Yazır and consequently, the site is very frequently visited. In order to facilitate visits as well as providing information on this valuable cultural heritage, signposts in Turkish and English were prepared and were erected (Fig. 4). This work also included the erection of other warning signposts to attempt to prevent any damage to the natural and historic features of the site. The purpose being to transfer our cultural and natural heritage to future generations in good condition and to raise them to the international level, together with providing correct information contributing to the quality of the tourism destinations of the region.

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