Archaeology Travel, Asia Minor, Hadrian, Photography, Pisidia, Sagalassos, Turkey

Exploring Sagalassos – images from the city in the clouds (part 2 – Lower Agora)

View of the Lower Agora and the Roman Baths complex, Sagalassos, Turkey © Carole Raddato
View of the Lower Agora and the Roman Baths complex, Sagalassos, Turkey

As mentioned in part 1, Sagalassos made the headlines in the international press in 2007 and 2008 due to the unexpected discovery of three extraordinary statues of the emperors Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius and empress Faustina the Elder, Antoninus Pius’ wife. The statues were originally located in the frigidarium, the coldest and largest room in the Roman baths at Sagalassos.

The Roman Baths complex, built on a hill east of the Lower Agora early in the second century A.D., where the colossal marble statues of Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius and Faustina the Elder were found © Carole Raddato
The Roman Baths complex, built on a hill east of the Lower Agora early in the second century A.D., where the colossal marble statues of Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius and Faustina the Elder were found
The Roman Baths complex, currently undergoing excavations © Carole Raddato
The Roman Baths complex, currently undergoing excavations

Archaeologists were excavating the site of a massive Roman bath complex, whose construction began under Hadrian when they found the lower part of a leg and a foot with an exquisitely decorated sandal. The foot alone was about 0.8 meters long. The head of the emperor Hadrian (0.70 m high and with a diameter of 0.51 m) was found next to it. Traces of red paint have survived on both the hair and sandal. Given the dimensions of the recovered body parts, the total statue must have been nearly 5 m high.

The head of the colossal marble statue of Hadrian found at the Sagalassos Roman Baths complex in 2007, Burdur Museum © Carole Raddato
The head of the colossal marble statue of Hadrian found at the Sagalassos Roman Baths complex in 2007, Burdur Museum

This head was the centrepiece of the exhibition Hadrian: Empire and Conflict that run at the British Museum of London in 2008.

Lower part of a leg and foot with sandal of the over life-size statue of Hadrian found at Sagalassos in 2007, Burdur Museum © Carole Raddato
Lower part of a leg and foot with sandal of the over life-size statue of Hadrian found at Sagalassos in 2007, Burdur Museum

In 2009, the head, right arm and lower legs of a colossal statue of Marcus Aurelius were uncovered.

The head of the colossal marble statue of Marcus Aurelius found at the Sagalassos Roman Baths complex in 2008, Burdur Museum © Carole Raddato
The head of the colossal marble statue of Marcus Aurelius found at the Sagalassos Roman Baths complex in 2008, Burdur Museum
Lower part of a leg and foot with sandal of the over life-size statue of Marcus Aurelius found at Sagalassos in 2008, Burdur Museum © Carole Raddato
Lower part of a leg and foot with sandal of the over life-size statue of Marcus Aurelius found at Sagalassos in 2008, Burdur Museum

Hadrian’s role in attributing privileges to Sagalassos (centre of the Pisidian Imperial cult; grant of the title of “first city of Pisidia”) explains the size of the statue and the fact that he was honoured with a new temple and a nymphaeum.

The ruins of the Temple of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, Lower Agora © Carole Raddato
The ruins of the Temple of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, Lower Agora

The temple was dedicated to the emperor Antoninus Pius, the imperial house and the Divine Hadrian under whose reign its construction started, and to the ancestral deities, as determined by the building inscription. Until the late 4th, early 5th c. AD, the temple would remain the major sanctuary for the Imperial cult.

The remains of the Hadrianic Nympheum located on top of the terrace limiting the north side of the Lower Agora © Carole Raddato
The remains of the Hadrianic Nympheum located on top of the terrace limiting the north side of the Lower Agora
Statue of Poseidon from Hadrian's Nympheaum at Sagalassos, Burdur Museum © Carole Raddato
Statue of Poseidon from Hadrian’s Nympheaum at Sagalassos, Burdur Museum

Visitors at Sagalassos would have entered the ancient city via a broad colonnaded street, passing the Temple of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius’s promontory in the south and continuing towards the Lower Agora.

The north-south Colonnaded Street © Carole Raddato
The north-south Colonnaded Street
View of the Lower Agora and the Colonnaded street © Carole Raddato
View of the Lower Agora and the Colonnaded street

The first monumental nymphaeum of Sagalassos was built on the north side of the Lower Agora under the reign of Trajan (AD 98-117). It was the first large fountain greeting travellers entering the city from the south via the colonnaded street. In Severan times, the façade of the Trajanic phase was partly dismantled, and a new one – identical to the former – was erected ca. 0.40 m in front of it. The nymphaeum, excavated in 2000 and 2001, was found in a relatively good state of preservation.

The Trajanic then Severan Nymphaeum, Lower Agora © Carole Raddato
The Trajanic then Severan Nymphaeum, Lower Agora
The Eastern Portico of the Lower Agora © Carole Raddato
The Eastern Portico of the Lower Agora

Further photos from Sagalassos can be viewed from my image collection on Flickr.

Official website: http://www.sagalassos.be/

3 thoughts on “Exploring Sagalassos – images from the city in the clouds (part 2 – Lower Agora)”

  1. Again, great photos! The details on the sandals and the hair are amazing. It makes you wonder how these statues must have looked when they weren’t broken into pieces.

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