The Odeion

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Excavations at the Odeion of Sagalassos were initiated in 2005. This concert hall for musical and poetic performances is situated on a terrace to the north of the Lower Agora, partly built into the slope below the Upper Agora. It is the southernmost monumental structure of which the orientation was still inspired by that of the Bouleuterion, built higher up around 100 B.C. The construction consisted of a covered semi-circular auditorium with a radius of 24 m, preceded in the south by a stage building with a ca. 50 m long façade, overlooking the Lower Agora. Part of the Odeion’s semi-circular back wall still stands to a certain height, preserving several square beam holes for the roof structure, but showing several repairs. The auditorium may have seated up to 1500 spectators.

Excavations concentrated on the southeast part of the Odeion, uncovering parts of the scene, orchestra, cavea and a large entrance hall. This hall, consisting of two rectangular spaces was extremely well preserved: its ashlars walls were still standing to a height between 6 and 7 m. The northern hall could be entered in the east from outside, and contained several staircases on either side of a landing in the middle. A small staircase leads down into Room 1, which opened into the orchestra through an arch. From the landing, two larger staircases lead respectively to the entrance in the east and towards the sitting places in the west, especially towards to a small platform above the arch, providing a splendid view on the scene.

The podium has been uncovered over a length of ca. 10 m. Unfortunately, the scene wall was only preserved until a height of 2,75 m. The original façade with protruding aediculae was stripped in Late Antiquity, after which the upper part had been rebuilt in rubble stones, covered by plaster. Some parts of the original scene building have been discovered, such as fluted architrave-frieze blocks (Pfeiffenfriese) and cornices, but a reliable reconstruction of the façade is not yet possible. The orchestra likewise showed considerable traces of later changes and dismantling. The podium wall of the auditorium was standing till ca. 2 m, and the actual preserved structure was definitely the result of a late antique rebuilding operation, when also a water channel was built along the bottom of the wall. These alterations seem to have occurred in the 4th century A.D. or slightly later.

The seats of the cavea were not found in their original position. The poor state of preservation of the cavea did make it possible to excavate a kiln of the Late-Hellenistic/Early Imperial period in the slope of the hillside.
The chronology of the building was reconstructed as follows: in an early phase, dated in the 3rd quarter of the 1st c. AD, the outer wall of the cavea was constructed. The discovery of an exceptional column capital, however, may indicate that the construction even started at an earlier moment in time, more exactly the Augustan period. The evidence is, however, not conclusive. Around 100 AD, changes were already made in the water collection system, and also the eastern entrance hall, consisting of two rooms, was constructed. In this corridor, an elaborate water infrastructure had been placed to evacuate rain water next to ground water coming from the hillside. It seems thus now even more likely that this part was constructed just before, or at the same time of the Hadrianic nymphaeum at the Lower Agora, as was already suggested in the past. Finally, in the Severan period between 180 and 210 A.D., the scene building was erected. The Odeion remained in use until the first half of the 6th c. AD. There are traces for a major destruction around 500 AD. One had the intention to start with a reconstruction, as is indicated by a column deposit in the entrance hall and two column parts placed in front of the scene wall. This reconstruction was, however, son abandoned and further destruction struck the building, especially the lower part of the cavea. Probably spoliation of the seats and benches started already in 6th-7th century. One also started to fill the entrance halls with butchery refuse, while the central area of the scene and podium became a dump place for building materials. Not much later, (part of) the scaenae frons collapsed. Most parts of the back wall resisted longer, but large parts did fell down at some time after Antiquity, filling up the central area of the Odeion with a huge pile of stone blocks.