Sobessos - The only late-Roman/early-Byzantine settlement found in Cappadocia, mosaic pavements, Roman baths
Today, a small patch of land on the local farmer's property is roped off and reveals a 400 sq. m (4,306 sq. ft.) Meeting Hall whose main draw is the vibrant mosaic flooring throughout. Towards the 6th century, a Chapel was constructed atop some of the finer mosaics within the Meeting Hall using materials scavenged from the Main Room. A grave was also uncovered, containing the skeletal remains of an adult shrouded male, dating to the same period as the Chapel addition. Further spot tests of the site revealed a Roman bath complex, now believed to be the site of Sobesos, a city dating to the late Roman and early Christian period (mid-4th century to 5th century A.D.). The finding of Roman ruins of this sophistication provides historical continuity never before seen in Cappadocia. We know that Christians were for the most part hiding from Roman soldiers, but we've never seen evidence of a full-scale Roman settlement.
Sobesos is located in the southeast of Cappadocia near Sahinefendi (its old name - Soveşe so-veh-sheh) Village. It was found by a group of people by chance. Following searches and excavations showed that this is an ancient city build in the 4th century AD.
The excavations in Sobesos hold by Cultural Ministry, will light a dark part of Cappadocian history. Albeit the excavation is just at the initial stage the Sobesos is already a part of the tours we conduct in Cappadocia.
THE MEETING HALL
It has an area of 400 m² and consists of 3 rooms. There is a grave in the first room, the second room has mosaics and the third one, the main room, is supported by columns, its walls are plastered and its ground is covered with mosaics. It is estimated that this building could date back to the middle of 4th century or the 5th century AD.
THE ROOM WITH MOSAICS
Its ground is completely cleaned and is covered with mosaics that are made out of colourful stones. The patterns are geometrical with swastika, meander and cross shapes with the forms of hair braid.
THE GRAVE IN THE MAIN ROOM
The grave in the north of the main room is placed in the East-West position and has a raising cross on its lid. Right underneath of the grave's lid, there is another lid that prevents bad odour from spreading around. Both of the lids were made of lime mud. When both lids were opened, a skeleton of an adult male in a shroud whose hands were on his belly was discovered. The tissue samples of the skeleton were taken immediately. Because it was very worn-out, it is under protection in its original place. The skeleton belongs to the same period with the chapel that was added afterwards.
The chapel is located on the upper floor of the meeting hall and is near the east room. It was coarsely built with materials that were supplied from the main hall. According to the coin that was found during the excavation, the chapel dates back to the middle of 6th century.
THE FIELD OF PEHLIVAN FAMILY
It was said that in the clover field of Pehlivan Family, to the north of the building with mosaics, another building with columns and mosaics existed. In order to investigate the rumour, it was decided to make an excavation with a depth of 2.20 metres on this field. As a result of this excavation, at the depth of 1.80 meters, a section of a stone based construction was discovered. The further excavation continued with a 4 x 4 metre width at 4-plan square and a section of the bath complex of the ancient city was brought to light at 2.30 metres deep. An apoditorium (dressing room) with mosaics, a caldarium (steam room) with the preserved sitting places, a large section of the cistern, supported by a semi-circle wall, were discovered. As the result of this excavation, it was realised that the apoditorium was covered with barrel-vault but it was burned at a fire. The bath was built with hypocaust system (hot air heating system) and the caldarium consisted of two sections.
At the depth of 2.50 meters, remains of a hexagon supported with round terracotta tondi were discovered on the base.
This building, belonged to the late Roman period, was renovated for functional reasons during early Christian period. In the north of the caldarium, a large but well-preserved jar which was used for storing provisions at that time was discovered.
As the result, the ruins at Sahinefendi Village dates back to the Roman and early Christian period (second half of the 4th century AD).
REGIONS AND SITES OF CAPPADOCIA
♦ Underground City of Derinkuyu - the largest & deepest excavated subterranean city, which could house up to 20.000 people
♦ Underground City of Kaymakli - the next largest excavated subterranean city, which could house up to 5.000 people
♦ Göreme National Park & Open-air Museum - cave churches with frescoes
♦ Zelve Valley & Open-air Museum - an empty cave town with churches
♦ Paşabağ (Monk Valley) - mushroom-shaped fairy chimneys
♦ Ihlara Valley - the deepest gorge of Anatolia
♦ Devrent Valley (Imagination Valley) - animal-shaped fairy chimneys
♦ Uchisar Castle - A rock-cut castle. You’ll see it driving back and forth
♦ Ortahisar Castle - Troglodyte village with rock-cut castle
♦ Sobessos - The only late-Roman/early-Byzantine settlement found in Cappadocia, mosaic pavements, Roman baths
♦ Avanos Town - Town of pottery & craftsmanship
♦ Hacibektaş Town - Centre of Bektasi sect of Islam
♦ Gülşehir Town - First settlements in Cappadocia
♦ Caravanserais - Inns, «caravan palaces» on camel trains through Asia Minor