Sagalossos

Sagalossos

The history of these places goes back to the twelfth century BC. The first settlement signs in Sagalassos, however, go back to the third century BC. The city has been included in Pisidia since 1600 BC. There had not been much activity in Sagalassos for a long period of time. Then came Alexander the Great who wished to conquer this place in 334 BC. There was a furious battle on the hills near the city and 500 people lost their lives. Sagalassos got bigger after Alexander the Great and became the second important city of Pisidia during the Hellenistic Age (333-25 BC.). The city continued to flourish until the beginning of the 3rd Century AD, as seen for instance, in the glorious buildings constructed during its brightest days.

The massive earthquake of 518 AD. was the beginning of the end for Sagalassos. Another earthquake hit the city and cut off the water resources in the 7th century AD. Then the Arabs attacked the city. After drought, battles, and contagious diseases, Sagalassos was abandoned and in time covered with the soil of Akdag.

The excavations

The city was wakened from its long winter sleep by the French traveler Paul Lucas in 1706. Lucas told about the antique city as the place where fairies lived.

The real identity of Sagalassos was determined by the British priest Frances Arundell in 1824. A century and a half later, the first systematic surface search was conducted by British researchers headed by Stephen Mitchell. This work was continued by the Belgian archeologist Marc Waelkens from 1986 onwards. Both men were amazed by the remains of the antique city and the beautiful view of the green plains at the foot of the mountain. Waelkens obtained support for his work from the Belgian-Leuven Catholic University where he is a academician, and the excavations began in the name of the university in 1990. This group has unearthed quite a bit of Sagalassos and re-built many buildings in 10 years (such a short time for an excavation). These include the Dorian Temple (1st Century BC), a Late Hellenistic Fountain (1st Century BC), the Neon Library (2nd Century AD), the Assembly Building for 200 people (Bouleulerion, 125-100 BC), the Upper and Lower Agoras (2nd Century AD), the heroic monument of Heroon, which is thought to be dedicated to Alexander the Great during the period of Augustus (14 AD), the Apollon Klarios Temple (0-20 AD), the Antinius Pius Temple (120-140 AD), Antonins Fountain (161-180 AD) the Roman Bath (2nd Century AD) and the theater.

After 1997, the excavations in the city focused on the Upper Agora region.

In the northern part of the Upper Agora, there was the Antonins Fountain which became the of the excavations. Two magnificent statues of the God Dionysos (2.65 and 2.45 meters) were found during the excavations for the fountain.  Other statues of the rulers of the city together with those two great statues are on show in Burdur museum.  When the work of Semih Ercan is finished, the copies of the statues will be put on the fountain. When the excavation of the Antonins Fountain is completed, it will be re-connected with the Hellenistic fountain and will have water running again.

Monument Heroon

Heroon, the heroic monument of 14 metres dedicated to Alexander the Great, is another magnificent building which is being restored by a group headed by Ebru Torun Popleme. The most striking aspect of Heroon is the fresco of dancing women with their folded clothes and musical instruments.

Sagalassos will be more clearly understood when the excavations in the Upper Agora are completed. The third monumental fountain of the city was surprisingly found in the Lower Agora towards the end of 2000. In addition to that, four more statues have been found. They were probably used in the front side of the fountain.

Sagalassos is awaiting for its visitors 110 km away from Antalya Airport. The city is 30 km away from Burdur and Isparta and it is a stop for the trips between Antalya-Pamukkale and Capadochia-Antalya. If you wish to visit the region between 1 June-1 September, you can watch the excavation work.