Sagalassos is an archaeological site in southwestern Turkey, about 100 kilometers north of the modern city of Antalya, ancient Attaleia. In Roman Imperial times, the town was known as the 'first city of Pisidia', a region in the western Taurus mountains, currently known as the Lake District. Already during the Hellenistic period, it had been one of the major Pisidian towns.
The urban site was laid out on various terraces at an altitude between 1400 and 1600 m a.s.l.. After having suffered from a major earthquake in the early 6th century AD, the town still managed to recover, but a cocktail of epidemics, water shortages, a general lack of security and stability, a failing economy and finally another devastating earthquake around the middle of the 7th century AD, forced the inhabitants to abandon their town and resettle in the valley. Large-scale excavations started in 1990 under the direction of Marc Waelkens of the Catholic University of Leuven. A large number of buildings, monuments and other archaeological remains have been exposed, documenting the monumental aspect of the Hellenistic, Roman and early Byzantine history of this town
Human settlement in the area goes back to 8000 BC. Hittite documents refer to a mountain site of Salawassa in the 14th century BC and the town spread during the Phrygian and Lydian cultures. Sagalassos was part of the region of Pisidia in the western part of the Taurus Mountains. During the Persian period, Pisidia became known for its warlike factions.
Sagalassos was one of the wealthiest cities in Pisidia when Alexander the Great conquered it in 333 BC on his way to Persia. It had a population of few thousand. After Alexander died, the region became part of territories of Antigonus Monophthalmus, possibly Lysimachus of Thrace, the Seleucids of Syria and the Attalids of Pergamon. Archeological record indicates that locals rapidly adopted Hellenic culture.
Roman Empire absorbed Pisidia after the Attalids and it became part of province of Asia. In 39 BC it was handed out to Galatian client king Amyntas but after he was killed in 25 BC, Rome turned Pisidia into the province of Galatia. Under Roman Empire Sagalassos became the important urban center of Pisidia. Contemporary buildings also have Roman character.
Around 400 AD Sagalassos was fortified for defence. Earthquake devastated it in 518 and a plague around 541-543 halved the local population. Arab raids threatened the town around 640 and after another earthquake destroyed the town in the middle of the 7th century AD, the site was abandoned. Populace probably resettled in the valley. Excavations have found only signs of a fortified monastery, possibly a religious community, which was destroyed in the 12th century. Sagalassos disappeared from the records.
In the following centuries, erosion covered the ruins of Sagalassos and, maybe also due to its location, it was not looted in significant extent.
Explorer Paul Lucas, who was traveling in Turkey on a mission for the court of Louis XIV of France, visited the ruins 1706. After 1824, when British F.Arundell deciphered the name of the site, western travelers begun to visit the ruins. Polish count K. Lanckoronsi produced the first map of Sagalassos. However, the city did not attract much archaeological attention until 1985, when a British-Belgian team led by Stephen Mitchell begun a major survey of the site.
Sagalassos is located 7 km north of village Aglasun in the province of Burdur. It is on the southern flank of the Mount Akdag of the Taurus Mountains is located at an altitude of 1.45 - 1.6 kilometers.
From 1990 Sagalassos has been, in addition to being a major tourist site, a major excavation project lead by Marc Waelkens of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. One is now exposing the monumental city center; four major restoration projects there are (nearly) completed. The project also undertakes an intensive urban and geophysical survey, excavations in the domestic and industrial areas, and an intensive survey of the territory. Whereas the former document a thousand years of occupation, from Alexander the Great to the seventh century, the latter has established the changing settlement patterns, the vegetation history and farming practices, the landscape formation and climatic changes during the last 10,000 years.
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire
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