Other churches in Sagalassos

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The following churches were not excavated, but surveyed and cleaned of plants and rubble. Their plans were made readable by combining an architectural survey with ground-truthing. There was no stratigraphic evidence to date them, and, with the exception of Church F, also little newly carved architectural decoration, so that these buildings could not be dated based on internal evidence. Their basilical plans suggest that they were late antique or Early Byzantine constructions, built during the later part of the 5th or the 6th c. AD.

Basilica E1

One of the most impressive churches of Sagalassos was constructed within the remains of the city’s Stadium, to the west and at a certain distance of the fortified city centre. It was designated as “Basilica E1” by Lanskoronski. Judging by its location, it most likely functioned as a large martyrion church.

The building was 20.40 m wide and 39.50 m long and consisted of an elongated, probably tripartite, nave with a small transept at its eastern end. A polygonal apse (ca. 14 m wide and 5 m deep) was fitted into the eastern wall of the transept. There were three rectangular windows in the apse, one in each of the three sides. In the western wall, three doorways were inserted. They were constructed with reused doorframes. The transept possessed additional doors.

This church was completely constructed with reused blocks, originating from at least three different buildings. Frieze fragments of the Temple of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius were brought to the building site. The cornice blocks in the western part of the church belonged to another, unknown building. And finally, complete wall sections of a temple that may have been dedicated to Dionysus were reused to form the eastern end of Basilica E1. The longest reused wall was folded open to form the polygonal apse of the basilica, and for this reason some of the stones were partly re-carved. At least four layers of stones in the eastern part of the Basilica bear two numbers on their upper side, indicating respectively the layer and the position of each stone in it. Since the practice of numbering stones is unknown in other buildings of Sagalassos, the numbering system here may be connected with the dismantling and careful reassembling of the old temple walls. The blocks were reassembled very carefully, since the sequence of both numbers and layers of the ancient building was respected. So these blocks must be regarded as a unit, coming from the same original building.

The dedication of the original building was suggested by the entablature incorporated in the north-eastern part of the Church. On the outside, this bears a frieze of theatre masks and heads of mythological figures, on the inside a frieze of dancing satyrs. In the eastern part, where the walls were reassembled, the normal sequence of architraves and frieze blocks was reversed, so that the architraves of the original building were placed above the frieze blocks. There can be two reasons for this: either the late antique constructors made a mistake, or they deliberately brought the masks and the satyrs to a lower level, maybe to obtain a better view.

To the east of the church, the foundations of another, smaller building were discovered. Its function is not clear: it may have been a baptistery or a mausoleum.

Basilica C

Church C was a rather small basilica with an east-west orientation and dimensions of ca. 17.60 m by 12.05 m. It was located on a small flat hill near the southern necropolis and removed from the city centre. Even so, the limestone outcrop on which it has been built dominated the lower part of the city and towered above the ancient road leading into town. The situation of basilica C near an ancient cemetery may indicate it was a sepulchral church.

The church was accessible through three doors in its west wall. Additional entrances were located in the western section of the south and north wall of the building. A semicircular apse, with a polygonal outer face, protruded from the middle of the east wall. As indicated by several epistyle blocks laying to the west of the church, the building was preceded to the west by a narthex of which neither the dimensions nor the shape could be determined, since no in situ remains were registered. Although the three doors in the western wall suggest that the church was tripartite, no columns or capitals were found within the building. Instead, many bricks and tuffo blocks were noted, which suggested that the nave was separated from the aisles by pillars carrying arches.

Some stone elements, such as the blocks of the central entrance to the nave, appear to have been carved anew for this church, but most architectural remains, including ashlars, columns and epistyle blocks, were taken from earlier structures. The origin of these elements is not clear. The presence of many tesserae within the building indicated that it had a mosaic floor.

Basilica F

Just north of the city’s main East-West Street, in what is assumed to have been a residential area, the remains of a third, small church building were encountered. This northwest-southeast orientated rectangular building could be identified as a tripartite basilica based on the columns, the Ionic impost capitals and an octagonal ambo block that were present on the surface. In this location, decorated architectural elements, including Ionic impost capitals and an ambo block, were retrieved. They suggest a construction date in the first quarter of the 6th c. AD.

The jambs of the central and northern entrances of both the church and the narthex were still in situ. The reconstruction of the remainder of the plan was hampered by the strong erosion processes that took place on the slope. Massive deposits of colluvium buried the northern part of the building, whereas the southern part moved down slope, as can be told from columns and other architectural remains such as bema piers that were found there.

The basilica measured ca. 22 by 9.50 m. It was accessible from the west through three entrances, constructed with reused building blocks. The aisles of the church were separated from the central nave by limestone columns carrying Ionic impost capitals. These were very simple, with only a minor indication of volutes underneath the blocks and a simple Greek cross in the centre.The presence of beam holes in some of the columns suggested the presence of galleries above the lateral aisles. Entablature blocks found to the west of the church indicated that it was preceded by a 5.40 m deep and 9.50 m wide narthex with three doorways. Preceding the narthex, there was a pave atrium with a length of 14 m. The slabs of this square included elements of an unidentified Early Imperial monument dedicated to the “divine emperors” by Tiberius Claudius Dareios and his sons.

Elements of the church furniture further included a base for a half-column and the octagonal platform of the pulpit with radial decoration in the central medallion on its bottom face. This platform, carried by eight small columns or pillars, was situated in the nave and was accessible from the east and west, by means of a double staircase, which, judging by the width of the platform, had a width of 0.80 m. Finally, three fragments of chancel piers were registered. Fragments of marble slabs were noted in several places suggesting that the building once had marble wall veneer.

The location of this church suggests it was only used by the inhabitants of the area, as a neighbourhood or parish church. Yet, the general dimensions and plan of Basilica F (preceded by an atrium; the presence of galleries), its location along the main east-west axis of the city, and its decoration (marble veneering) suggested that it might have been more than that.