Extensive Survey, 2005

In 2005, the project focused on Bin Tepe, an open landscape of rolling agricultural fields on top of a prominent limestone ridge situated between the Gygaean Lake on the north and the Hermos River on the south; visibility is very good and many sites can be located easily by sight.

Methods

We recorded the locations of all surveyed features using hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, marked their locations on 1:10,000 scale field maps, and documented their locations and conditions on standardized forms and with digital photographs. For tumuli, we recorded location, diameter, height, and condition, and noted anything of special interest, including locations and dimensions of looters’ tunnels, visibility, and accessibility and composition of chamber tomb complexes, among other details. Survey units usually comprised agricultural fields, and their modern condition and use were recorded in addition to the presence or absence of cultural materials. Along the c. 1.5-2 m wide observation swath of each walked survey track through each survey unit (SU), we counted all cultural materials encountered (e.g., sherds, tiles, lithics, other), and collected diagnostic materials for purposes of assessing the date and type of cultural activity represented. We identified each “point of interest” (POI) as a point or area in the landscape the remains at which unquestionably indicated past cultural activity.

In addition to the systematic methods employed, we consulted local informants in the area, particularly the farmers whose fields we walked. These conversations provided contemporary information for determining landscape use, tumulus condition, looting activies, and short- and long-term shifts in landscape, including variability in lake levels.

Survey Units and Points of Interest

During the course of the season we surveyed 286 fields, resulting in a coverage of 68,644 m2, or 6.86 hectares. We concentrated on fields with good surface visibility; these included fields newly planted with tomato, eggplant, squash, and tobacco, as well as freshly tilled olive orchards and grape vineyards. We avoided fields planted in cereals (mature or harvested barley and wheat) due to their poor surface visiblity, and these fields constitute the largest gaps in the coverage of the survey area. In 74 of the 286 surveyed fields we noted no cultural material at all. Of the remaining 212 fields, we collected diagnostic material from 110; material seen in the remaining 102 fields was not diagnostic, and thus was not collected. The date of collected material ranged from prehistoric through Ottoman times.

As fields were surveyed, we identified 43 points of interest (aside from tumuli, a special kind of point of interest) according to the methods described above, and these include the following: 16 settlements and 3 possible settlements; 14 grave/cemetery areas with rock-cut, cist, or sarcophagus graves; 1 bridge; 3 architectural blocks; 1 isolated, fluted lithic; 1 possible ruined tumulus; 1 possible ancient road; 1 light sherd scatter; 1 rock and tile pile, and 1 limestone outcrop (the latter two items may not have had ancient cultural significance and are included here only because they were catalogued as points of interest at the time of their discovery).

Of particular importance for the purposes of this survey project was the discovery of numerous settlements of diverse periods. The settlements appeared to be somewhat evenly distributed throughout the landscape of Bin Tepe, from the shoreline of the Gygaean Lake southwards to the Hermos River, and they ranged in date from prehistoric to Ottoman times. The numerous grave / cemetery areas were also remarkable. These finds show that the area of Bin Tepe was used not only as a cemetery of monumental and conspicuous tumulus burials, but also for less grand burials more likely associated with nearby rather than distant settlements.