Basilica Therma (Sarıkaya Roma Hamamı)
Basilica Therma is situated in the centre of Sarıkaya town of Bozok Plateau in the north of central Anatolia. The town was established on a large valley 1170 meter over sea level. The reason why the town was situated at this very certain point is the thermal and healing fountain which has been running from the ancient times till today. Basilica Therma is a bath building which was situated on the deepest part of the valley. This Roman Bath that was built in 2nd century A.D. has been used continuously and this gorgeous fountain still continues to be a source of healing with thermal waters.
In the Roman Period, the town on the way from Tavium to Caesarea was called Aquae Sarvenae in virtue of this thermal fountain here. After the spread of Christianity in the region, a church building was added to the northern part of the bath. Consequently the name of the town was changed to Basilica Therma. Until 451 A.D Basilica Therma was a bishopric centre. The centre of the town was a Roman bath and the town was surrounded by a wall about three kilometres long. The latest information in literature about Basilica Therma is Byzantine General Phocas’s victory over rebel Bardas Sclerus’s army. After Malazgirt Victory in 1071, this area had gradually entered into Turkish sovereignty. After Seljuks and Anatolian Beyliks, Ottoman Empire dominated the region in 1521. During the excavations held between 2010 and 2015, many pieces belonging to Byzantine, Seljuks and Ottoman Imperial Periods were unearthed. Especially Ottomans made great benefits from the thermal. According to a document found recently, the salaries of the teachers in Boğazlıyan in 1905 were paid with the income of the thermals. In those years the town was called Hamam Köy (Bath Village). Thanks to Roman Bath the village had grown into a town.
First information in the modern literature about Roman Bath in the centre of Sarıkaya belongs to French traveller Chantre. Travelling around Anatolia, Chantre saw the front of the Roman Bath in his visits in 1893-1894 and draw a picture of it. At the same time he pointed that there would be new interesting discoveries here. First excavations in Roman Bath were performed by Richard C. Haines and his team. He was employed by Dr. Von Der Osten who was the manager of Alişar excavation held by Chicago University. The aim of the excavation was to measure the existing remains and determine the boundaries of building. As a result of the excavations, a plan was prepared with surroundings on and around the facade of Roman Bath and excellent drawings was prepared to reveal the facade layout of the building.
In Roman Bath building marble was used for facade and pools, limestone was used for the inner walls. Today as main parts of the structure; a western facade, a large thermal pool in front of it, an inner pool behind the facade and a third pool on the east of it can be seen. There are two little semi-circle planned pools on the northern and southern sides of the 30 meter-long facade. Behind the façade is an inner pool which is surrounded by stairs on both sides and by arches connected directly to the large pool in the front.
The facade of the Roman Bath was built in the Corinthian order. From the upper edge of the large pool at the front there is a grooved column on the plinthos on the Attik-ion column, and a Corinthian head on it. Up to the head of the Plinthosan, the front of the facade elements was decorated on the blocks forming the belt legs in high relief until halfway. Since the half-column drums from the bottom column to the head are made separately and mounted on the facade, these pieces have been spilled and cannot be reached today. The belt line starts with a cradle belt at the bottom and continues with a straight cradle belt, a double cradle belt in the middle, and the last belt is finished as a cradle belt, creating a symmetrical appearance. The upper row of arches is the opposite of the lower row. The architrave on the head consists of two facials with their upper edges ending with a bead row and on top of them are a row of eggs, a bull head-girlant frieze, and a block of ornaments consisting of an egg row. Harvest blocks to be found on the architrave are not available today. Only one of them was found in front of the half-circle poolside in the north during the excavations. The columns to the north of the Roman Bath, which may have belonged to a possible gate structure, partly under the modern city, and their headings were found. These column headings are of Ion Type.
The large thermal pool measures 23,30 x12,80 meters and has a depth of 1.34 meters. Pool water is about 45 degrees centigrade. There is a baptise stone with two parts in a hexagonal form close to the oval, measuring 120x140 cm and having a thickness of 25 cm and a cruciform relief in the centre of a concave circle approximately in the middle of the pool. There is an inner pool measuring 16.00x4.00 meters with symmetrical ladders on its both sides. The third pool with thermal water boiling from the floor is positioned perpendicular to the inner pool. The pool is 15.00x5.20 meters with a semi-circular shape on its short sides.