roughly 110 km to the north of the well-known port and holiday resort of Antalya. The ancient city was founded on the south facing slopes of the Taurus mountain range and was the metropolis of the Roman province of Pisidia. Next to its mountainous landscape, a series of lakes form another typical feature of the regional geography. Today this region is known as the Lake District.
The first traces of hunter/gatherers in the territory of Sagalassos date back to some 12 000 years BP. During the eighth millennium BC, farmers settled along, the shores of Lake Burdur. During the Bronze Age, territorial "chiefdoms" developed in the region, whereas Sagalassos itself was most probably not yet occupied. This may have changed by the 14th century BC, when the mountain site of Salawassa was mentioned in Hittite documents, possibly to be identified with the later Sagalassos. Under Phrygian and Lydian domination the site gradually developed into an urban centre. During the Persian period, Pisidia became known for its warlike and rebellious factions; a reputation to which the region certainly lived up in 332 BC, when Alexander the Great experienced fierce resistance at Sagalassos while conquering the region as part of his conquest of the Persian kingdom.
Pisidia changed hands many times among the successors of Alexander, being incorporated into the kingdom Antigonos Monopthalmos (321-301 BC), perhaps regaining its autonomy under Lysimachos of Thrace (301-281 BC), and then being conquered again by the Seleucids of Syria (281-189 BC) and later given to Attalids of Pergamon (189-133 BC). The use of Greek, the development of Municipal institutions and material culture of Greek origin seem to testify to fairly quick Hellenisation, but the recent discovery at Tepe Düzen of an indigenous city, with a possible Hellenistic date makes clear that Hellenisation must have been a complex process. After the Attalids bequeathed their kingdom to Rome, Pisidia at first became part of the newly created Roman province of Asia, then, around 100 BC of the coastal province of Cilicia and once more of Asia around the middle of that century.
Sagalassos and its territory turned into dependable and very prospering Roman partners. In fact, the control of an extremely fertile territory with a surplus production of grain and olives, as well as the presence of excellent clay beds allowing an industrial production of high quality table ware ("Sagalassos red slip ware"), made the export of local products possible. Rapidly, under Roman Imperial rule, Sagalassos became the metropolis of Pisidia. Trouble only started around 400 AD, when the town had to fortify its civic centre against, among others, rebellious Isaurian tribes. Sagalassos seems to have remained rather prosperous even under these conditions. After the earthquake around 500 AD, it was restored with a great sense of monumentality.
As a result of recurring epidemics after the middle of the 6th century and related general decline of the economic system in Asia Minor, the city started to lose population. Large parts of the town were abandoned and the urban life was replaced by a more rural way of living.
In the 7th century AD, the situation had further aggravated due to continuous Arab raids and new epidemics when the city was struck once more with a heavy earthquake, most probably around 590 AD. Despite this disaster, recent research has proven that the city remained occupied until the 13th century in the form of isolated and well-defended hamlets, located on some promontories which maintained the name of the former ancient city. One of these hamlets found on the Alexander's Hill of Sagalassos was destroyed in mid 13th century, by which time Seljuk's had already build a bath and a caravanserai in the village in the valley (Ağlasun).
The abandoned ancient city was then rapidly covered under vegetation and erosion layers. As a result of its remote location, Sagalassos was not really looted in later periods and remained to be one of the best preserved ancient cities in the Mediterranean.