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Excavations and research in the thermae of Faustina in Miletus, Turkey

Berlin’s Antikensammlung and the Berlin offices of the German Archaeological Institute joined forces in 2006 to conduct research into the largest bathing complex in Roman Miletus, the Faustina thermae. The alterations that took place to the building from its construction sometime in the second half of the 2nd century AD up to its abandonment in the Byzantine period lie at the heart of this DFG-funded project.

The sculptures displayed in the baths, depicting numerous pagan deities (Apollo and the Muses, Dionysus with satyrs, Asclepius, several statues of Aphrodite) and honorific statuary are the most important reflection of the transformations that occurred in the transition from the Roman imperial period to late antiquity and the early Byzantine epoch. The manner in which the statues were altered is a sign of their reinterpretation to suit Christian sensibilities, while the fact that many were repositioned offers an insight into shifting viewing habits and the role the objects played within the architectural space.

In addition, a meticulous analysis of the building’s history was undertaken as part of the project to flesh out in greater detail and with greater accuracy the various construction phases outlined only in cursory detail in the initial publication written on the site, dating from 1928. Targeted sondages both inside and outside of the building provided additional clues as to the chronology of construction and changes in use. Investigative analysis into the structural ornamentation, inscriptions and graffiti, coins, pottery fragments, and other small finds completed the picture.

Funding: DFG
Duration: 2007 to 2012

The findings of the archaeological investigation are being prepared for publication.