We reach the ‘Sagalassos ancient city’ in Ağlasun district in about an hour, accompanied by the Taurus Mountains covered with forests. In the village on our way, many women in trousers were bringing the milk they had milked in the morning to the factory with copper bags. Working hours began very early for peasant women. We stop at the hotel with a magnificent view near the ancient city. The prices of the hotel, which was decorated very tastefully and with a pool, were also very reasonable. After resting here for a while, we set out with the excitement of seeing the ancient city on the top of the hill as soon as possible. We reached the city by passing through winding roads. When we bought our tickets and the attendant at the door said that ‘one of the archeology students doing internship can guide us’, we happily accepted. The ancient city is quite large, planned and many structures have been unearthed.
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We learn from our guide that many parts of the city have not been excavated yet, and that excavations have been carried out since 1990 by an international delegation, mostly Turks, under the direction of Prof Marc Waelkens from the Belgian University on behalf of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Turkey. It is a must-see city with its Roman bath, Hereon, Agora, Neon library, ancient theater, Antonine fountain, Claudius gate, metal and lime melting furnaces, which were unearthed during the excavations. Sculptures of Hadrian and Marcus Aurelis have been excavated in recent years. Ottoman artifacts were also found in the finds obtained during the excavations.
SAGALASSOS, the favorite city of the emperors; It is one of the best preserved ancient cities of the Mediterranean. Turkey’s UNESCO World Heritage Preliminary List. This region was called ‘Pisidia’ in ancient times. In 3000 BC, the Luwians, a people associated with the Hittites, settled in Pisidia. The city has undergone various cultural interactions under the management of political forces that have dominated Anatolia one after another throughout history.
During the Phrygian and Lycian periods, the settlement gradually became an urban center. When Alexander the Great reached the region, the Pisidians, who had made their reputation as a warrior people, fiercely opposed his army. However, Sagalassos was defeated in this bloody war in 333 BC, and Pisidia changed hands many times during the reigns that followed Alexander.
The city early adopts the urban institutions and material culture of the Hellenic world. From 133 BC, Sagalassos became a part of the Roman empire. Sagalassos was annexed to the Roman Empire by Augustus. During the reign of Emperor Augustus, the city experienced a great economic development. During this long period of stability and peace, the atmosphere of prosperity reaches its peak during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (AD 138). Sagalassos is officially declared the center of the region and the first city of Pisidia is recognized as a friend and ally of the Romans. This is a privileged location. Because it means the celebration of regional festivals and games in the city.
The people of Sagaslas continued to develop their own culture under the influence of Rome throughout the imperial period. They converted from polytheistic religion to Christianity in the 4th century AD and remained a part of the Eastern Roman Empire until the last settlement phase in the 13th century AD. In the 13th century AD, the Seljuks dominated the region.
One of the main reasons why people settled on these steep cliffs dominating the valley was defense. The geological structure of the region consists of permeable limestone surface layers on clay beds. Rain and snow seeps through the stones into the clay layers and cascades through the cracks in the rocks. Natural stones provide high-quality building material. Local clay is used in the production of ceramics. The region is also rich in mineral ores, which are necessary for the production of metal goods. In ancient times, the valleys of the region were much more fertile than today. The city’s economy is based on grain supplied to the Roman armies. During the imperial period, olives and olive oil were produced.
Another important source of income since the Augustus period is the production of red-lined ceramic pottery and its export. Local tableware of Sagalassos was spread by trade. Today, it is found in excavations in Western Anatolia and even in other cities in the Eastern Mediterranean. During the imperial period, Sagalassos was connected to both Aegean and Mediterranean ports and to the new Roman colony cities established in the region by a road system. Sagalassos is not a closed mountain settlement. Innovative and progressive, Sagalassians always stay well connected to the political and economic world of the empire.
Sagalassos continued its development until the 6th century AD. In AD 541-542, the plague epidemic devastated the population and caused great damage to the economy. Two major earthquakes in the 6th and 7th centuries, one after the other, prepared the end of the city.