Harbor Hall, North Market and Sebasteion
The northern market and its buildings are located in the Milesian city center in the Lion Bay, Its central square with the spacious columned halls occupies a central position between the surrounding, public monumental buildings (such as the Delphinion), the avenue on which the Ionian Hall is located, and the southern market. Adjoining the market to the north, the Harbor Hall with the Small and Large Harbor Monuments is already a part of the Lion Harbor. The northern market constitutes a coherent ensemble of buildings whose function will be discussed later. At the same time, however, the halls adjoining it have their monumental column facades facing outside, thus providing a backdrop and functional rooms for the avenue to the east and the Lion Harbor to the north. This creates a complex interplay between the market area and the neighboring parts of the city.
The history of the northern market begins with the development of the long, L-shaped building, referred to as the “Harbor Hall” due to its proximity to and orientation towards the Lion Harbor. It is an approximately 136-meter-long columned hall of the Doric order that was built in the late fourth century BCE. Until its integration into the city fortification in late antiquity, it retained its original architectural shape. For the purpose of its new function, the intercolumnar spaces were added at that time, and a watchtower was incorporated. Today, the preserved foundation and architectural elements repurposed in surrounding buildings grant insights into the original appearance of the Harbor Hall. There were 65 rooms, possibly used as stores or storage facilities, in the rear section of the hall. The peristyle courtyard—an inner courtyard enclosed by colonnades or column halls on all 4 sides—adjoining the Harbor Hall to the east was added during the same phase of constructions, as were the rooms connected to it. Based on its proximity to the Harbor Hall and the Lion Harbor, this sub-complex is also believed to have had an economic function.
Around the middle of the second century BCE, another L-shaped column hall was built adjacent to the southern section of the Harbor Hall, connecting it to the previously isolated gneiss building in the west. This gneiss structure is an older building taking up an entire city block (insula); it was still in use and underwent remodeling efforts during the Roman Empire. The building is believed to have played a political and administrative role. In the middle of the western hall of the northern market, created as a result of the connection between the gneiss building and the Harbor Hall, a small temple was built. Its 4-columned front faced the open square. The building protruded from the otherwise uniform hall facade, which gave it a particularly prominent position, even though the bird’s-eye view suggests that it was wedged between the buildings adjoining it to the west, north, and south. In the first century BCE, an altar was built centrally in front of the temple. It is not known which deity was worshiped here. The traditional use of the name “North Market” for the entire complex seems questionable, however: the ensemble of a temple, altar, open space and colonnades clearly resembles a sanctuary. Similarly, the open square of the so-called North Market once contained many statues and other, smaller monuments, which indicate that it played an important role in the city’s public life.
Additional modifications were made during 2 further building phases. Firstly, a wall separating the east side of the northern market from the avenue was built in the first century BCE. Secondly, the simple bounding wall was transformed into a splendid colonnade during the middle Roman Empire. From that time onward, then, the 87 x 50 m open square of the northern market was closed, flanked by colonnades on all sides. The eastern colonnade, added last, was equipped with large-scale columnar architecture towards the avenue. Together with the Ionian Hall opposite, it provided a splendid frame for the avenue. Much like the Ionian Hall, the western colonnade of the northern market, facing the avenue, had shaded rooms. It probably fulfilled a similar function as the Delphinion during the processions departing from the latter.
To the south of the northern market, a road led to the avenue from the west up until the reign of Emperor Trajan. During the development of the Sebasteion, which may have been a temple to an unknown deity, the road was covered. The subsequently added building filled the entire area between the south wall of the northern market and the Bouleuterion. It was accessible from the avenue. From that point, the only entrance to the northern market from the west was a small gate. Next to the western bounding wall, there was a temple with a square interior (cella) containing a 1.5 m x 1.5 m base for the idol. Its front was simple, composed of 2 columns between projecting piers (antae).
Text: Fabian Sliwka / Lisa Steinmann
A. von Gerkan, Der Nordmarkt und der Hafen an der Löwenbucht, Milet 1,6 (Berlin/Leipzig 1922).
H.-U. Cain – M. Pfanner, Die Agora Milets in Kaiserzeit und Spätantike, in: O. Dally – M. Maischberger – P. Schneider – A. Scholl (eds.), ZeitRäume. Milet in Kaiserzeit und Spätantike. Ausstellungskatalog Berlin (Regensburg 2009) 83—95.
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