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Rise and Fall of Sagalassos Volume 48 Number 3, May/June 1995
by Marc Waelkens
...they [the Roman armies] entered the country of the Sagalassians, rich and abounding in all kinds of crops. Pisidians inhabit it, by far the best warriors in this region. This circumstance gave them courage, as well as the fertility of the soil, their large population, and the situation of their fortified town in a land where such strongholds were few. Since no embassy met him at the frontier, the consul [Cn. Manlius Vulso] sent out parties to plunder the fields. Then at last their stubbornness was broken when they saw their property being carried and driven away; sending ambassadors and agreeing to pay 50 talents and 20,000 measures of wheat and as many of barley, they obtained peace. --Livy, History of Rome, 38.16.9

In 189 B.C. Roman armies under the command of Cn. Manlius Vulso marched against the Gauls of Asia Minor. Their journey took them through the territory of the Sagalassians, whose city, Sagalassos, was one of the wealthiest in the region of Pisidia. That the city could pay the vast ransom that Livy reported--nearly one and one-half tons of silver and more than 5,000 tons each of wheat and barley--indicates just how wealthy. During the next few centuries Sagalassos would grow into one of the more prosperous cities in Asia Minor, with a population in the tens of thousands. Located on alpine terraces beneath two mountain peaks known today as the Tekne Tepe and the Cincinkirik Tepe, it was divided into an upper and a lower city, each with an agora surrounded by porticoes and public monuments. There were foundations and temples, theaters and baths, and the mansions of wealthy merchants and landowners. But despite its splendor, Sagalassos is rarely mentioned by Roman historians; it was only one of many provincial cities in a sprawling Empire stretching from the Atlantic to the Euphrates. By the thirteenth century it had disappeared entirely from written records, its ruins and even its name forgotten.

* See also "Lost," a poem inspired by this article.

Marc Waelkens is the L. Baert-Hofman professor of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, and director of the Saglassos excavations. He is also the acting director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Archaeology, an interuniversity research program (IUAP 28) begun by the Belgian government.

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