The necropoleis

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Sagalassos was physically bounded by its necropoleis, which were laid out on the limestone formations that enclosed the town. Due to this local topography it was not possible at Sagalassos to position the graves in a regular manner along major roads. Instead, the tombs were positioned on the rocky outcrops or artificially created terraces along the roads. A study of the different grave types and their provenance within the necropoleis of Sagalassos allowed distinguishing a clear chronological sequence from Hellenistic times until the late 3rd c. AD. Based on the provenance of the grave types, the Southern Necropolis must have been the oldest, followed by the eastern, western and northern necropoleis.

The Southern Necropolis extended over an area of almost 15.7 hectares. Originally it was located on the lower and middle high part of the northern slope of Alexander’s hill, from which the area expanded toward the east, south and northwest. The sloping terrain to the east of Alexander’s Hill and south of the promontory of the temple dedicated to Hadrian and to Antoninus Pius was thus incorporated as was the upper southern slope of Alexander’s Hill. In this necropolis, mainly rectangular, but also vase-shaped, ostothecae and sarcophagi were found, as well as several monumental tombs. On the northern slope of Alexander’s Hill, Hellenistic, rectangular ostothecae with weaponry reliefs were present. Only few of these graves were still in situ, because of the effects of erosion.

The second largest necropolis was located to the east of the city centre. Here, sarcophagi and rock-cut arcosolia were the main grave types, although also several monumental tombs were laid out. To the west of the centre, the sarcophagi of the Western Necropolis were spread over an elongated east-west oriented limestone outcrop. Apart from coffins, also arcosolia and some rectangular ostothecae were found here, although the latter were probably not in situ, but transported to this location to reinforce modern terrace walls.

Finally, along the southern slope of the mountain range behind the town, a fourth funerary area was present. The arcosolia, the main grave type in this area, are carved in the clif north of an ancient west-east road, which passed the site to the north. They were accessible by means of rock-cut steps, which also may have been used as benches for visitors of the graves and which originally even may have been the remains of quarrying in a terraced form. Today, quite a few arcosolia are hidden by modern sedimentation.