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.
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.
This head was the centrepiece of the exhibition Hadrian: Empire and Conflict that ran at the British Museum of London in 2008.
In 2009, the head, right arm and lower legs of a colossal statue of Marcus Aurelius were uncovered.
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 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.
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 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.
Other photos from Sagalassos can be viewed from my image collection on Flickr.
Official website: http://www.sagalassos.be/