Urban Mansion

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The Urban Mansion of Sagalassos is located in the eastern domestic area of the town, east of the main road that connected the upper with the lower city. As part of the Early Imperial development of this residential quarter in the early 1st century AD a first peristyle house (Courtyard XIII) was constructed. During the next centuries this private dwelling was several times repaired, rebuilt and extended. For instance, in the 2nd-3rd century AD a second private courtyard (Courtyard XXV) was added in the zone east of the original peristylium and in the 4rd century AD a private bathing complex was constructed (Rooms IX, X, XV and XVI) north of it. Eventually, the pre-existing structures were incorporated in a large elite mansion in the 5th century AD. At its high days the residence consisted of - at least - 66 spaces spread over seven different terraces on the slope. Thus far, its borders have not yet been found. Both the impressive architecture with its numerous reception facilities including vestibules, audience halls and dining rooms, and the rich wall and floor decoration (multi-coloured geometrical mosaics, opus sectile floors and sham architecture in marble and coloured stone) are in line with contemporaneous elite residences elsewhere known to have been inhabited by bishops, governors or other members of the urban elite.

The 5th century mansion consisted of a public wing accessible for clients, business guests and other visitors in the north, and a private area that was reserved for the inhabitants, friends and close guests in the south. Visitors entered via the - not yet identified - public entrance in the north-west and reached by means of corridors paved with purple slabs (Corridors LXII and LIX) and a mosaic-paved waiting room (Room LVI) the heart of the representative wing, which consisted of an 'atrium-like' hall with a tetrastyle impluvium (Room XLV). From here guests could be directed straightly to the vaulted main audience hall with opus sectile floor where the patron received them (Room XLVI, whose upper floor consisted of yet another mosaic-paved apsed reception room - Room L). On the other hand, in the north the ‘atrium’ was bordered by mosaic-paved Corridor LVIII, which gave access to a (representative) room with rich marble wall decoration in the east (Room LI) and a mosaic-paved one in the west (Room LX). Apart from these two circulation options, visitors could also continue to a large vaulted dining hall with opus sectile pavement (Room XXII) that was located at the end of an impressive track full of surprise effects (purple staircase XXXVI; vestibules XXXV and XVII with geometrical mosaic floors). Two symmetrical rooms north of this dining room may have functioned as guest rooms (Rooms XXXI and XLIV). Apart from these representative rooms and transition spaces, also Rooms LV and LXI on the sixth terrace, as well as octogonal(?) Room IL (baptisterium?), polygonal Room LII, Corridor LIII and triangular(?) Room LIV, all located on the seventh and currently highest terrace, belonged to the public wing. When allowed to the private parts of the mansion, guests could by means of mosaic-paved Room XVIII and a staircase (Room XLVI) proceed from the public wing to the 1st century AD peristylium in the south, which was provided with an exedra (Room XI) in the north and a nymphaeum in its north-east corner (Fountain building XIX). Subsequently, they could enjoy dining with the patron in private dining room XL (and possibly also in Room XLIII) and take a bath in the bathing complex (apodyterium XVI, tepidarium XV, caldarium X and frigidarium IX). The most private spaces (Rooms XXXII and XXXIV) were located further eastwards and centered on arcaded Courtyard XXV, which had an sun-oriented oecus in the north (Room XXVIII) and was separated from Courtyard XIII by a central north-south running arcaded gallery. Besides, the mansion was provided with the necessary service spaces with water facilities, such as Rooms I-VIII with a private latrina south of the baths, Corridor XX east of the bath rooms, and Rooms XXIII-XXIV and XXVI-XXVII south of the public dining room.

After the 5th century AD the mansion underwent clear changes that were in line with the general evolutions in the town. Thus, the building was subdivided in smaller living units, as can be deduced from the many blocked doors that caused changes in the circulation patterns. Like several public areas of Sagalassos, some of the originally luxurious parts of the mansion got a rural function now. For instance, private Courtyard XXV became a storage place for amphorae and a cattle stable, while audience hall XLVI was transformed into a storage room for dolia. However, in contrast with earlier presumptions that the building must have been already abandoned when an heavy earthquake struck Sagalassos in the late 6th century AD, recent excavations have evidenced that - at least part of - the mansion stayed occupied into the 7th century AD. Thus, on top of earthquake destruction material new floor levels and hearths were created (Sagalassos Red Slip Ware of Phase 9 found on these new occupation levels in Waiting room LVI, Corridor LIX and 'Atrium' XLV). Presumably, the limekiln constructed in the 'atrium' has to be related with these 7th century AD, post-earthquake levels.

In this way the urban mansion of Sagalassos allows getting a diachronical picture of the housing types that existed in this part of the eastern domestic area in the period between the 1st century AD and the (Mid) 7th century AD and nicely reflects the general contemporaneous socio-economic and political changes the town as a whole underwent.