In Summer 2017 Antiochia ad Cragum Archaeological Research Project (ACARP) again took to the field to conduct the 12th season of archaeological research at the site. For six weeks, from the end of June to the second week of August, we conducted an extremely successful field season. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism for providing the permission to conduct our annual excavation.
The most outstanding and best-preserved feature of the ancient site is the north façade of the Great Bath that dates to the second half of the first century CE. This stretch of wall still stands over to meters high, just to the point where the vault springs to cover the frigidarium. After clearing the Courtyard of the Great Bath, revealing its large mosaic, we excavated the frigidarium. That clearing was notable by the discovery of the chamber’s original mosaic. But during the clearing of the chamber we also uncovered three pottery kilns that belonged to a second period of use for the building after its original bathing function ceased. The kilns indicated that at least the part of the building that has been excavated so far was repurposed as a light industrial center. We had previously discovered that the exterior mosaic-covered courtyard, originally dating to the early fourth century CE, served in late antiquity (ca. 6th –7th century) as a workshop for glass vessels. We don’t yet know the reason for why the structure ceased operation as a bath. It’s possible that after 400 years the building and its bathing apparatus was just too old to serve its original function any longer. But the structure was apparently still sound enough to continue functioning, this time as a workshop space for the needs of the late Roman city.
The tepidarium of the Great Bath next drew our focus. In 2016, we had removed the top meter of the debris-filled topsoil of the entire chamber that provided some definition of interior walls. We opted to excavate a smallish 4 x 4 m chamber at the eastern end of the tepidarium, and only the northern half of that chamber. In the original Bath the tepidarium would have been outfitted with a subfloor supported by terracotta brick columns (pillae) through which the heated gases circulated. That subfloor was missing, as expected, although eventually we did find a few remnants of the pilae of the original hypocaust system. What we found instead of the subfloor were two more late Roman pottery kilns built into the two open corners of the chamber, providing further evidence of economic activity in the sixth and seventh centuries CE. Of these kilns (six in total!) several produced amphoras that may have served to transport wine that we are aware was produced at the site (a late Roman wine press installation was discovered built into the north flank of the Northeast Temple). Now we anticipate that the other two corners of the chamber may potentially also contain ceramic kilns. This will be a prime focus in the 2018 season.
We also continued our work clearing the Civic Bouleuterion during the six-week season. This structure served as the seat of government (the boule) for the city; councilors would meet to debate local laws and conduct the business of government. We have been able to determine that members of the council would be seated on mainly rising, wooden grandstand-like seating, arranged in a hemicycle around a central platform called the orchestra. The lowest row around the orchestra was carved with marble blocks. The speakers’ platform has not yet been completely cleared as we still require an area for the workmen to be able to remove earth from this site. The platform will be the last to area to be excavated. This past summer marked the third season of excavation of the Bouleuterion and over 90% of the structure has now been cleared. The nearly complete clearing has allowed us to propose a preliminary reconstruction and to determine that the building had undergone alteration during its period of use. During the course of excavation this summer we discovered a large iron bracket that originally would have held the wooden planks for the seating. Within the bracket we found traces of preserved wood from the planks. We immediately sent these fragments to a Turkish laboratory where they were dated by Carbon-14 to the early second century CE. Enough of the Bouleuterion has now been cleared to be able to provide its basic plan. We have noted that the architectural remains indicate several alterations in its construction; our goal for the 2018 season is to complete the excavation of the structure, particularly its outer wall, that should reveal the Bouleuterion’s history.
Finally, we continued work at the Late Roman/Early Byzantine Church Complex, possibly monastic, upon the ancient city’s Acropolis. This site contains an interesting juxtaposition of two churches. One appears to be a Late Roman structure which was replaced by an early Byzantine church. Tim and Mary Howe, from St. Olaf College, spent four weeks continuing their investigation of the crypt under the apse of the later church. During their time they were able to excavate down to bedrock, and during the course of excavation found more bone material associated from the disturbed burial they discovered in 2016. Also, they found several fragments of what appears to have been a decorated marble chancel screen or templon that would have served as a divider between apse and nave.
Work on the reconstruction of the Northeast Temple continued in the summer. Owing to the fragmentary nature of the remains in situ, the process of reconstructing the dimensions of the temple has required extended effort. However, we are pleased to report that the last major dimension of the temple has been obtained: the height of the column shaft (5.085 m.). The elevation of the total height from stylobate to peak of pediment is 8.66 m. Normally, one would rely on the column shafts themselves for this measurement, but in this case they are too fragmentary. Even use of photogrammetry did not produce a reliable result. Therefore, an indirect method had to be found. The anta height of course is equal to that of the column, but there are not enough anta blocks remaining to reconstruct the height of this member. Fortunately, however, the height of both pilasters at the rear corners of the temple can be calculated, though not without difficulty, owing to the special nature of the construction of this architectural member. As it turns out, three different types of block were employed to construct the pilaster: blocks with double offsets, blocks with single offsets along the flank of the temple, and blocks with single offsets along the rear of the temple. This technique was used on both the left and right pilasters, each pilaster made up of alternating blocks of these types, 11 blocks in all including base and capital. Further work with the plan of the temple (see figure 15) has revealed a problem: the width of the rear face of the temple does not match that of the front; the rear face measures 6.44 m., the front face 6.24 m., a difference of 0.20 m. Measurement of the rear of the temple is provided by the orthostates of the rear wall and thus is a reliable figure. Measurement of the front of the temple is obtained by the combined measurements of the pediment block and the two flanking cornice blocks and is also reliable. The only solution therefore is that one of the walls canted inward. It is likely that this was the right-hand wall, since various pieces of evidence suggest that construction of the temple proceeded from left-hand side to the right-hand side.
Staff and Funding
Without the participation and enthusiasm of people, nothing would get dug. We are grateful to all the participants who made the season a success. We owe a debt of gratitude to our Ministry representative, Gökhan Yıldız from the Kayseri Museum. Participating research staff members in the field included Dr. Asena Kızılarslanoğlu, Ahi Evran University (ceramics); Dennis Murphy, Denver (hydrology); and Dr. Timothy Howe, St. Olaf College (archaeology). Dr. Rhys Townsend, Clark University, was unable to join the team in the field, but he was quite active on architectural studies nonetheless. We extend our appreciation to the archaeological staff who shared their skills with us in the 2017 season: Demet Beşikçi, conservator; Brian Cannon, surveyor/architect; Mary Howe, archaeologist; and Ben Kreimer, drone pilot/ photographer. Within the trenches, we would like to express our appreciation to Fatih Kabakcı, excavation house and site manager, as well as director of IT operations for making the excavation function. A special round of thanks goes to our guard and head workman, Mr. Rahmi Tuncer, for keeping the site safe and secure, as well as moving more earth than anyone can imagine; We also thank Hidayet Kaplan, our van driver and one of our workmen, along with Ferhat Tuncer. To our cooks, Ms. Ayşe Tuncer and Ms. Emel Sulu, we owe a debt of gratitude for each day’s wonderful and nutritious meals. A field school would not function without students and interns. We want to thank the following for making the season such a pleasant and rewarding one: Ayşe Nur Kaplan, Bedri Mustafa, Büşra Demir, Gamza Alandağ, Ilayda Gonca, Ilkay Göçmen, Ismail Karabulut, Kadır Özkan, Onur Öztürk, Özcan Arslan, Özgür Gülbudak, Şafek Yıldız, Serap Yılmaz, Şeyma Seven. An excavation runs not only from the labor of people, but also by the generous donations of funds. We would like to thank especially our sponsors for this year: The University of Nebraska, Office of Research, UNL Department of Civil Engineering, the Merops Foundation, and the many private individual donors who generously gave to help make our season go. This Newsletter is particularly meant for their benefit.
After excavating for over a decade, we have finally committed ourselves to the construction of a permanent Excavation House (Kazi Evi). The local authorities have granted us the long-term use of property within the village of Güney and within the archaeological site where we will someday soon build the much-needed campus. We are working with an architecture firm in Lincoln, Studio951, to design for us a multi-building campus to suit the needs of a 21st century excavation. Included in the preliminary building plans will be dormitories for over 40 people, kitchen and dining facilities, laboratory and study space, and ample storage for the archaeological material as well as tools and equipment. We are excited about the potential this new space will offer.
Michael Hoff, Director
Antiochia ad Cragum Excavations
Hixson-Lied Professor of Art History
University of Nebraska
Birol Can, Assistant Director
Antiochia ad Cragum Excavations
Associate Professor of Archaeology
Please consider making a donation to the general excavation fund for Antiochia ad Cragum. Donations may be sent to the University of Nebraska Foundation, PO Box 82555, Lincoln, NE 68501-2555. Please write Friends of Classical Archaeology on the donation.