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Sagalassos Excavations

Sagalassos Excavations, a series of excavations carried out on the ancient city of Sagalassos, located on an incline at an altitude of 1,450-1,700 m, 7 km northeast of Ağlasun, Burdur, on the southern slopes of Mt Ağlasun in the Western Tauruses. The center of the ancient region of Pisidia, Sagalassos is one of the best preserved ancient cities in Turkey. As the longest-running pottery production center of the ancient world, it has been nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage List. The excavation and restoration work started in 2015 by the Global Heritage Fund is supported by the Vehbi Koç Foundation.

The city, where earliest traces of occupation go back 12,000 years, was conquered by Alexander the Great in 333 BCE. It developed rapidly after its incorporation into the Roman Empire in 25 BCE. Throughout antiquity, it was a center of pottery production and agricultural exports. The Roman Emperor Hadrian (r. 117-138) launched a major construction drive in the city. Earthquakes and an epidemic of plague in the year 600 signaled its decline. 

After many years as an abandoned ancient settlement, Sagalassos was discovered by the French explorer Paul Lucas in 1706. The excavations led by the University of Leuven, Belgium, in 1990 have so far unearthed the city center, the world’s highest ancient theater with seating for 9,000, two agorae, three nymphaeums, a Roman bath and several important statues including portrayals of Roman Emperors Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius (r. 161-180). The restoration project also covers the history of the settlement as well as the mutual impact of the local environment and the city, research into daily life and the economic, commercial and social orders.DNA tests on skeletons excavated in 1999 and the local population revealed kinship ties. Some of the priceless finds in the site are on display at the Burdur Museum. The excavation and restoration work carried out by the Global Heritage Fund at the Southeast Gate of the Upper Agora offers training opportunities to architecture, history of art and conservation students at Koç University, Middle East Technical University and Mardin Artuklu University.

Abadan Unat, Nermin

Political scientist who received the Vehbi Koç Award for education in 2012.