Recent Histories, 2009

The set of virtual maps recently compiled by CLAS enables a variety of studies: viewshed analyses of intervisibility between sites (such as the second millennium BCE citadels or the tumuli); broad changes in lake levels owing to drought or irrigation activities; destruction of tumuli over time; and recent historical shifts in settlement and land use. During the 2009 season, consideration of early modern archaeology and recent histories included investigation of currently unoccupied villages and local vestiges of the Turkish War of Independence, expressed especially in war trenches excavated on Lydian tumuli in and around Bin Tepe.

Currently unoccupied villages

For example, a number of communities around the Gygaean Lake have been resettled in the last 50 years, including Eski Hacıveliler, Hacıbeyler, Kılcanlar, Şahbazın Kulesi, Hacıhasankıran, Yeniköy, etc. This dramatic shift in settlement location points to a distinct and recent phenomenon of drastic changes in where people live. Ethnographic studies tell us that people wanted to be closer to their fields, specifically by the mid 1970s, the very period when intensive agricultural production increased dramatically in Turkey. Census data for the region, gathered by CLAS researcher E. Cobb, shows interesting parallels: from the 1980s to present the urban centers continue to expand in contrast to the rural villages.

Traces of the Turkish War of Independence

In addition to recent settlements, features from the Turkish War of Independence are clearly visible on a set of 1949 aerial images and are still discernible on the ground today: war trenches on tumuli and other hills throughout Bin Tepe and in strategic valleys and nodes along the northern shore of the Gygaean Lake all show signs of military installations. Archival work in the Salihli and Manisa libraries as well as other research conducted for the project by E. Cobb illustrates the various movements of troops (Greek and Turkish) through central Lydian landscapes; analysis of aerial images, specifically those from 1949, by CLAS Senior Researcher N. P. Özgüner and CLAS researcher C. Curtis (in Boston) confirms the placement of war trenches. These two approaches to the data (archival and aerial) allow for a broader understanding of people moving through this contested area, known as the Milne Line. Preservation of landscapes in Bin Tepe (tumuli specifically) will ensure that this history is available to future generations.