The fifth season of archaeological investigation at the ancient Roman city of Antiochia ad Cragum (Güney Köyü, Gazipasa) was conducted from June 15 to August 15, 2011. As in past seasons, investigation was carried out on the Northeast Temple, with the continuing process of excavation and block removal. With the addition of Dr. Birol Can to the excavation team as the assistant director, we opened new trenches along a colonnaded street that entered the city through a monumental gateway.
Excavation at the Northeast Temple continued with 1) the clearing of the earth mantle that covered the interior floor of the Temple, and 2) new trenches outside the structure that helped to elucidate the architecture of the Temple and its environs. Within the Temple, systematic excavation cleared the remaining soil that covered the marble floor slabs and finally allows for an understanding of the podium’s nature (Fig. 1). Over the past several seasons a theory was developed that there existed a sub-floor vaulted chamber as exists in other temples within the region. Once the flooring was cleared of earth, revealing in some areas of the floor lacunae where the floor slabs had been removed, we drilled deep through the mortar foundations using a power drill but found no indications of a chamber.
The floor slabs had been removed during the late Roman period to provide space for burials. Unfortunately, the burials had all been disturbed in subsequent periods, presumably during the Byzantine period as very little bone evidence survives, with the exception of the lower mandible and several vertebrae from one skeleton. There were, however, funerary goods that were discovered including a ring, an earring, as well as many coins.
Excavations inside the temple also revealed the continuation of the Byzantine installation, first revealed in 2009 along the east flank of the structure’s interior, that was placed directly atop the temple floor. This construction was likely a grave as the rubble material of the bottom and sides form a relatively flat depression. Neither bone material nor finds associated with burials, however, were discovered in context with this installation. The wall that defined the western side of this presumed grave contained spolia from the temple, including a small fragment of the frieze and a marble altar, also presumably associated with the temple. Thus there appears to have been two phases of post-temple funerary use within the structure: Late Antique burials, that were later disturbed, and which were then covered over by constructed burials in the Byzantine period.
Excavation along the western flank of the temple revealed a pressing installation for grapes or olives built against the temple’s flank. Several architectural blocks remained atop the installation so the complete clearing of the installation will occur in 2012.
The majority of the north (rear) exterior podium was revealed by the continuation of Trench 003 that had been begun in 2009. This trench reached the final step course of the exterior structure, and ultimately probed its foundations in one location (Fig. 2). We can now establish that the height of the podium from the rubble foundations to the level of the temple floor is 3.365 m. Above the foundations were three step courses in marble: the lowest two courses were 0.34 m wide, the upper 0.146 m wide, followed by a base moulding (0.20 m) that supported the podium orthostates.
Expansion of the 2009 trench to allow for deeper excavation exposed a monumental terrace wall that ran parallel to the rear flank of the temple. The thickness of the wall cannot yet be precisely determined as its northerly side has not yet been excavated, but its minimum thickness is measured to be 2.15 m. The wall was constructed at the same level as the lowest course of the temple; the distance between the terrace wall and lowest temple step course is 1.375 m. The close proximity of the two walls, their parallel coursing, and their construction at the same level suggests that the two constructions were contemporary. The height of the wall is approximately 3.10 m. Because of its height the builders stepped the wall back in two steps, each approximately 0.30 wide. At least on the west side, the wall angled downslope so that the steps disappeared into the fabric of the wall; the east side has yet to be excavated. It seems the wall likely was designed to protect the temple as a barrier from soil and debris washing down the hill from the north.
In 2012, in addition to completing work along the north and west flanks of the temple, work on the temple will focus on the east flank which appears to be better preserved than that at the west. Many of the orthostates along this flank have begun to appear suggesting that the lower courses remain mostly intact.
In addition to excavation, we documented and catalogued an additional 71 fragments of temple architecture. The number of architectural material thus documented since 2005 is 618. Of these 618 blocks, over 100 were transported off the mound by means of the truck-mounted crane to the adjacent block field for study. There remain on the mound only a small number of blocks that require the crane for lifting, and the architectural team looks forward therefore to completing the block removal process in 2012. Until now, priority necessarily has been given to drawing the side of each block that will become its resting surface in the block field. This is done while the block is still on the mound and must be done before the block can be securely wrapped and lifted. With this stage drawing to a close, it is now possible to focus work on the remaining sides of the blocks and to allow the process of architectural autopsy to begin in earnest. This systematic study is of course crucial to determining the original position of the blocks on the temple. The next phase of block study in fact has already begun. In 2011 anta blocks and geison blocks were given special attention. Detailed study of the cella doorway was begun, both the surviving fragments of the lintel and the well preserved threshold block. Studies of these block types and others will continue in 2012.