The north-south Colonnaded Street

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This main thoroughfare of Sagalassos ascended most likely along the western slope of the Alexander Hill. It made a 90degrees turn to the north, passed the promontory of the Temple of Hadrianus and Antoninus Pius in the south and continued towards the Lower Agora. Once past the Lower Agora, it made a turn to the east, then continued ca. 90 m in a northern direction and made a sharp turn to the west again, towards the Upper Agora, which lay ca. 50 m further west. As the many funerary monuments near Alexander’s Hill already show, this street was the main access route into the city. As it included multiple staircases and as there were also no traces of weathering by wheels on the street pavement, it was obviously not accessible for wheeled traffic, but only for pedestrians and perhaps by pack animals such as mules and donkeys. In addition, it must have been used for representative goals. Also today, the way up towards the site along this route remains highly impressive. Moreover, once inside the city, it formed the backbone of the urban plan of Sagalassos, connecting the two agorae. Research on this street has mainly focussed on the section between the Lower Agora and the site indicated as ‘Fortification Gate’.

It was believed that the section of the street just below the Lower Agora was already in existence in Hellenistic times: a Hellenistic monument was identified west of the Colonnaded Street, and in the south, the street passed under what was thought to have been a monumental Hellenistic gateway. Although a sounding executed inside a shops encountered some ceramics dating to the last quarter of the 1st century BC, it was found that the present street was only laid out in the first half of the 1st century AD. At this time, both the road as well as the row of shops in the west received their first pavement. This date was corroborated by a stylistic dating of architectural decoration belonging to the portico. This means that Sagalassos was equipped with a colonnaded street at a very early moment in time. The earliest example of a colonnaded street in Asia Minor was that constructed in A.D. 17 at Sardis, under the influence of Emperor Tiberius. In addition, the Main Street at Perge might also have been equipped with columns in the same period. Generally, it was in the course of the 1st century AD, that cities of Asia Minor started to show architectural variations of streets lined with porticoes, adapted to the particular requirements of the adjoining buildings. The overall spread of colonnaded streets only occurred between the early 2nd and early 3rd century AD.

Neither cost nor effort was spared for the construction of this street: geomorphological corings below the pavement slabs indicated that it was laid out on top of a massive fill in of a deep crevice separating the limestone platform with the Apollo Klarios Temple from that of the shrine of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. Creating the right level for the street was a very expensive and time consuming task, as thousands of cubic metres of earth, rocks and rubble needed to be brought in.

Between the promontory of the Temple of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius and the Lower Agora, the street was 9.60 to 9.90 m wide. At least on its western side, it was flanked by a 3.50 m wide colonnade in front of a row of shops, located on top of two subsequent terraces that were at the most ca. 2 m higher than the level of the road. Therefore, the street would have seemed much longer and more impressive than it actually was. Visitors would have been faced with a broad and bright white avenue, directed towards the large honorific gate in the north, and after the beginning of the 2nd century AD., also toward the impressive Late-Hadrianic Nymphaeum above the Lower Agora.

The history of the colonnaded street in the first centuries AD is badly known. At an unknown moment in time, judging by the size of the bricks used in the 4th or 5th c. AD, the row of shops behind the western colonnade, and as a consequence also the colonnade, was reconstructed. The pavement of the Colonnaded Street was relatively well-preserved and continuously maintained: on several locations, brick repairs were visible; along both edges of the street, the slabs were lifted, probably in order to insert waterpipes; and finally, some pavement sections are so irregular, in contrast to the overall very neat rows of pavement slabs, that it is likely they testify to a later relaying. Further large infrastructure works were carried out in the second quarter of the 6th century AD, when the present staircase leading to the Lower Agora was constructed, apparently on top of and somewhat more to the south than the previous connection between Street and Agora.
The western row of shops most likely went out of use in the second half of the 6th century AD. The small amounts of archaeological finds - every day objects, furniture-elements and building decoration - made clear that the area was not only abandoned before the final collapse, but also very thoroughly robbed out. On a later, undated moment, east-west oriented, rubble walls were constructed on top of the pavement. They still incorporated some elements of the colonnade, both pedestals and column fragments.