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A Ceramic Atelier at Patara

The architectural remains at Tepecik Necropolis, are quite different from other structures, shown by its form, monumentality and inscriptions. These remains provide evidence for several periods of occupation and changes of use.

As a result of short-term excavations and surveys, five functional phases have been determined within the borders of these remains. The most important information gained is that the rooms built in the third phase were used as a ceramic atelier. This change of use explicitly reflected the changing urbanization in the north of the city and the increasing pace of social and commercial life in Late Antiquity.

The remains are located in the necropolis. They extend north of the Tepecik Acropolis and are surrounded by monumental tombs. The structure measures 10.50 x 12.70 m on the outside. There are however, wall extensions of about 1.50 m which were discovered on the outer faces of the northern and eastern walls and show the existence of a structure which extended over a larger area, in the second phase, the building comprised of a number of rooms of various dimensions.

The earliest remains within the structure are located on the inner side, at the middle of the north wall. Here there is a short fragment of a cavity wall, which was built with polygonal blocks on the outer faces.

In the second phase this structure was expanded to cover a wide area encircled with quite thick walls and there are wall extensions in two directions. It was constructed mainly of large irregular stones with smoothed outer faces and on the north and west walls, polygonal stones, taken from the walls of the first phase, were reused. Wall extensions have been determined on all the outer faces except for the west wall which leans into the slope of the hill. Therefore we possess a building complex of multiple rooms, probably with a civic function, and which was of several stories. The thickness of the outer walls provide us with evidence for the height of this building.

For the construction of the ceramic atelier in the third phase, architectural blocks were procured from nearby ruined structures. To this end, the south section was raised and leveled by in-filling and on top, a rectangular platform was built. The ceramics were produced on this platform. This area was accessed via stairs from the north. The outer walls of the platform show that this area was closed on three sides and open only to the north. Among the monumental blocks that form the balustrade of the staircase are rows of seating and bases with inscriptions. The area north of the platform and west of the stairs is an area framed by large floor slabs. These floor slabs were arranged to form a basin for; aging the clay. The area with thick walls functioned as a courtyard, during this phase of building a small room was built into the northwest corner. There is no certain evidence for the type of pottery produced in this atelier. A number of oil lamps, some of which do not show any traces of burning and can therefore be regarded as unused, were recovered in the excavations. They provide us with some evidence of the types produced and provide a date for this pottery atelier (5th-6th centuries A.D.). A roof-tile kiln discovered nearby must be related to this atelier; perhaps the roof-tiles were produced here, before being dried and taken for firing to the potter's kiln.

In the fourth phase the area between Room E and the basin was converted into a lime kiln which was constructed from irregular stones built on top of the earthen floor.

During the last phase this area was used as a cemetery. Two tiled-tombs, one of which was damaged, were recovered in the northeast corner of the thick walled room built in the second Phase.

The atelier lost its function in the 6th century A.D., when the lime kiln situated next to the clay aging basin started to function. It was built to produce lime for the mortar used in the construction of the "Source Church". According to the evidence, the north part of the platform to the West, was then closed off by a rubble wall, to provide a shelter.

*Doç. Dr. Burhan Varkıvanç, Akdeniz Üniversitesi, Fen-Edebiyat Fakültesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü, 07058 Kampüs - Antalya.

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