Saturday, December 21, 2019

The "Big" Temple and Recent Works Upon It Ruins

One feature of the Island that the Princeton Expedition of the 1930s scarcely looked at, nor mentioned, was the "temple" site. This stood two blocks east of the hippodrome, so was very close to where they were operating. This is visible in aerial photographs from the 1920s and is shown best in the Poccardi article. Below is the map from the Poccardi work showing the temple (at letter 3).

This was a fairly massive temple with a podium measuring 107m by 71m covering two city blocks. It has been the subject of testing since at least 2008 by the only group that is currently working in the Antioch site. It stands to the East of the Hippodrome as shown in the map below:

The visible remains consist of the rubble core of the structure. We have seen no speculation on which god the temple may have been dedicated to.

A collaborator, JØRGEN CHRISTENSEN-ERNST, took the following photographs.

This last image shows the top of the podium.

In 2004, a team of archaeologists (Hatice Pamir et al.) with a geomagnetic approach visited the site. There report was as follows: "The so-called temple, the rubble core podium of which still stands at a height of 5 m, underwent a preliminary documentation. A geomagnetic survey was conducted west of the temple, on the periphery of the adjacent hippodrome, which became part of the Tetrarchic palace at Antioch in the late 3rd century. The remains of an opus caementicium wall, which once separated the Basileia from the rest of the city, was provisionally documented and so were most of the monuments registered by the American excavators".

A more extensive report was published in ANADOLU AKDENİZİ - Arkeoloji Haberleri 2016-14: News of Archaeology from ANATOLIA’S MEDITERRANEAN AREAS in an article entitled "Antakya Hipodrom ve Çevresi Kazısı - Excavations at and around the Hippodrome of Antakya authored by Hatice Pamir. In this report:

"Not investigated until today, this structure is mentioned as a temple in the excavation reports of the 1930s. First short-term geophysical surveying was done at the monument in 2011, and then in 2013 excavation and documentation started and still continues. This monument extending north to south sits parallel to the hippodrome, 160 m. to its east. What remains today from the monument are the podium and cella wall foundations of opus caementicium (roman concrete) built with pebble stones and cement mortar.

The high podium measures 109.70 m. long north to south and 75.06 m. wide east to west. The width of the peristasis is 13.70 m. on its long sides and 15.60 m. on its short sides. The cella walls are double walls extending parallel as inner and outer walls. The outer cella wall is 78.70 m. long on its long eastern and western sides while 47.90 m. wide on its short northern and southern sides. A T-shaped construction adjoined for 3.9 m. south from the middle of the northern cella wall and forms a foundation wall 18.5 m. long and 3.5 m. wide extending parallel to the cella’s northern wall. The cella was accessed from the eastern, western and southern sides. The eastern and western entrances are 5 m. wide and on the same axis, while the southern one is 6.8 m. wide.

Following the preliminary documentation, excavations were initiated at the temple carried out at the western peristasis of the podium, gates B2 and B9, the northern peristasis, and the cella.

In the northern half of the western peristasis of the podium, the western outer wall of the podium is bordered with nine blocks of opus caementicium at equal intervals from the northern corner of the north-west podium up to the west gate axis. On the outer surfaces of the blocks placed at intervals forming the podium wall are at least three rows of straight line of mold construction traces left by blocks or molds used during the construction, giving a height of 0.60 m. and 0.45 m. Regarding its construction technique, a row of pebble stones was placed regularly at the bottom, and a thick layer of cement was poured, then another row of pebble stones and again cement mortar. This continued up to the top of the mold.

In order to determine the height of the podium, a sondage measuring 1.00 x 10.80 m. was dug south of the entrance b2. At the 80.15 m. level a mortared floor was reached so the excavation was stopped. Thus, the height of the podium is 5 m. from the top level of the well-preserved block and the podium’s floor/base. On the exterior surface of the wall the courses do not look regular on the plaster but suggest an isodomic wall-facing; blocks measure on the average 0.40 x 0.60 m.

In the northern part of the western peristasis, an area 60 m. long north to south and 5 m. wide from the outer wall of the podium towards the cella was excavated.

This area contained 66 high pedestal bases includes 22 rows in north south and each row includes three pedestal in east-west, built with pebble stone and cement mortar in opus caementicium technique. The pedestal bases measure 0.70 x 0.65 m. with a height of 0.55 m. placed 0.90 m. apart (below). The bases were placed without cutting the gaps. They rest on the ground at the 83.00 m. level.

The excavation carried out in the western part of the northern peristatis. A total of 16 pedestal bases (4 rows of 4) were uncovered in an area measuring 6.50 x 13.50m. extending from the western corner of the cella wall to the outer podium wall. These well-preserved opus caementicium bases measure 0.90x1 m. with a height of 0.8 m., thus are larger than those uncovered in the western peristasis. They also built on the opus caementicium ground at the 82.90 m. level.

The ramp construction in B2 entrance and B9 entrance were excavated. They should be related to the last phase of the temple when its function was changed. Straight line traces of mortar for ashlars measuring 0.45 x 0.60 m. at the eastern end of the northern wall of Entrance B9 indicate that this face of the wall was faced with ashlars originally but later removed.

Excavations were carried out front of the T-shaped wall in the northern part of the cella, in the northern corner of inner eastern wall of the cella, and before the inner western wall of the cella in order to document the ground upon which the foundations of the cella walls.

Under the modern agricultural soil, down to 84.05 m., in a filling 1.50 m. thick were fragments of bricks, rubble, mortar and cut limestone blocks, indicating a few phases of destruction. Beneath it was loose ground with lime mortar. Further down, the pebble stone and rubble filling reaches down to the 83.20 m. level where an opus caementicium ground adjoining the cella walls was uncovered. At the northern corner of the inner western wall of the cella was a platform 2.60-2.65 m. wide at the levels of 84.10-84.00 m. It bounds north-south wall and continues into the profile. Within this platform is a channel paved with brick and bounded with stone blocks.

On the western entrance axis of the cella is an opus caementicium platform 2.60 m. wide uncovered at the 84.04 m. level and adjoining the inner wall of the cella. This one should be extension of the platform uncovered at the northern corner of the inner eastern wall of the cella.

A trench measuring 5x3.40 m. was dug west of the outer cella wall in the west peristasis. Modern agricultural soil and rubble filling were removed, and opus caementicium ground at the 82.88 m. level. This ground extends north to south as a platform 4.93 m. wide adjacent to the outer wall of the cella. Another trench measuring 6 x 2 m. was dug from the outer wall of the cella in the western peristasis, and the opus caementicium ground 5.05 m. wide extending from the cella wall to the podium platform was reached at the 82.90 m. level. Both these platforms/buttress foundations extend adjacent to the outer wall of the cella. Like the platform 2.60 m. wide uncovered at the 84.05 m. level inside the cella, it adjoins the cella wall and looks like a buttress. The podium foundation 7.60 m. wide formed by the outer blocks of buttress in the western peristasis is only 0.60 m. away from the 5.05 m.-wide buttress platform adjoining the cella wall.
This shows that the bases for the vertical elements of the temple were built individually.

For the time being there is no evidence for the superstructure of the temple except very few architectural elements. It was documented one shaft fragment of a grey granite column and two fragments of porphyry granite columns on the surface and in modern soil. It is possible that they were collected and brought the temple from the field around the temple. The temple surrounded with modern occupation houses and agricultural fields. It can be said that this structure is a podium temple of monumental size. The opus caementicium core has been preserved, and facing blocks have been documented at a few points in situ. Its height is over 10 m. including the podium and the cella walls. Its dimensions make it one of the rare monuments of this size. Its plan seems to be unique, and from the point of layout its closest parallel is the Donuktaş temple in Tarsus, which is dated to the Severan period at the end of the 2nd century A.D.

According to preliminary data, the top deposit belongs to the Islamic and Crusader cultures of the 11th-12th centuries. It is thought that the temple served for temporary accommodation thanks to its sturdy architecture during that period. Coin finds are abundant for the 3rd to 4th centuries A.D., but there is no coin from the 4th to the 11th centuries. Pottery finds include amphorae of the late 5th to 7th centuries A.D. (Fig. 5), and the metal armlet on a skeleton uncovered in the debris indicate that the structure fell down in the 6th century. Two burial were uncovered a skeleton in 2013 and another burial in 2015. It is inferred that the area served as a cemetery after the building fell out of use".

Here are a couple of plans from recent publications by Hatice Pamir: 

The plan above predates the latest works at the site but is still useful.

1 comment:

David deSilva said...

Greetings. I would have liked to have contacted you more directly, but I can't figure out your identity. Many thanks for your outstanding blog on Antioch. I've been reading many of your entries in lieu of being able to travel to the site (though these entries would also be fabulous preparation FOR traveling to the site). I am writing because I would like to obtain permission to use the drone aerial photo of the Antioch temple on this page in a forthcoming book of mine on _Archaeology and the Ministry of Paul_ (Baker Academic, late 2024 or early 2025). If that is not your own photo, would you please put me in touch with the person who holds the rights thereto? It would be ideal if you could contact me by email: ddesilva at ashland dot edu.