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Thermae of Antioch in Pisidia

Thermae of Antioch in Pisidia
Thermae of Antioch in Pisidia, originally uploaded by

The bath lies at the northwest corner of the city and the building did not receive much interest from researchers over the last 150 years. Most of them identified the building as an arched, colossal complex but none of them had anything to say about the function of the building. Seven section of the building have been unearthed by the excavations directed by Taşlıalan in recent years, but an important part of the complex, which is 70x55 m, is still buried and the plan is not yet clear. There is still some uncertainty whether the building is in fact a bath or not.

For example, because of sun and wind factors, the entrances to bath-houses in Anatolia were made on the south or east sides, but here the situation is different, the entrances are on the west and north-west sides. Also there are not clear traces of a water supply and heating system and in this situation the building rather looks like the lower part of a huge building that bore a massive structure above on its strong arches. Also because of the slope of the area on which it is constructed, the arches provide a solution so that the complex looks like the foundations for a building on a slope. For instance at Pergamon the same remedy was used for the Trajaneum.

But until further excavations prove the contrary the building can be accepted as a bath house which it resembles.

Treating it as a bath, the building is a reasonable distance from the nympheum. The exterior of the walls of the building on the north side are similar to the semi-circular fortifications of the western city walls. So it is possible that the massive external walls of the structure were also used for fortification in an as yet unrecognized plan and the small entrance in the north wall was used for the supply of wood needed for heating. The stonemasonship of the building is the strongest work visible at Antioch and it looks as if it will keep the building standing for many thousand years yet to come.

In the rooms cleared during the excavations it is understood that some places were filled deliberately. The style of the blocked and mortar-filled walls show the techniques of different centuries and show that the building was used over an extended period and possibly for different purposes also.

The court which is 38 by 29 m, identified as a palaestra, at the east side of the complex is connected to the building in an organic way. The court is surrounded with a colonaded-portico but the plan is not yet clear.

In one room, the remains of a floor heating system (Hypocaust) is visible as baked-clay tubes and rectangular brick-columns, but this would not reach the central heating oven of the building which should be at east or south side, if the building is a bath. It will be possible to understand the functions and phases of the building by continuing the excavations and in this situation the building may be comparable with the bath-house of Sagalassos in Pisidia which is 80x55 m. The beginning of the building phases can be dated to the first half of the first century A.D. like the aqueduct and nympheum. [wikipedia]

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