Alexander's Hill

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The so-called Alexander’s Hill occupied a very strategic position in the landscape of Sagalassos. This flat-topped hill controlled the main southern approach to the town.

The Temple and Church on 'Alexander’s Hill'

Test soundings carried out on the top of 'Alexander’s Hill' between 2000 and 2003 revealed the partly rock-cut foundations of a 19.5 m long and 9.10 m wide building with an east-west orientation. The superstructure had disappeared completely, leaving only the partly rock-cut foundations of its walls and a rectangular niche at its east end, which must have served as the substructure for an apse. To the west, a 2.50 m wide zone paved with tile fragments, probably the narthex, preceded the building. The structure originally had a mosaic floor. The excavation of a marble chancel slab and a limestone door lintel ascertained the identification of the structure as a church.

The discovery of numerous architectural elements belonging to a substantial building of the Ionic order dated to the mid-2nd century AD, probably a temple, as well as the presence of several altars, indicated that this church probably occupied the former location of a pagan shrine. One of the altars suggested this had been dedicated to a goddess, whose cult was served by male priests. Based on the chronological evidence from the church foundations, the construction of the basilica itself was dated to the early 6th century AD. Yet, some of the decoration suggests an 11th century phase, also confirmed by Dark Age pottery (9th-11th century).The ecclesiastical structure was depleted not long afterwards and some of its elements were reused in the foundations of a circuit wall surrounding the top of the hill.

As Alexander’s Hill is the most prominent landmark of Sagalassos, both the alleged shrine and the church must have been visible from everywhere, and will therefore have been significant sanctuaries. Given the fact that ostothecae and sarcophagi of the city's southern necropolis cover the slopes of the hill, a role in the funerary cult seems likely for both.


Also after the abandonment of the Church, the site was inhabited. More exactly, it became a military bulwark, surrounded by a substantial circuit wall. Excavations of a cistern on top of the hill could date this occupation to the 12th/13th century AD.