Extensive Survey, 2006

The regional focus of our work in 2006 was the area to the west and northwest of the Gygaean Lake, composed of small valleys, located between shrub-covered ridges and hilltops, with their lower slopes leading down to flood plain and the lake itself. As in Bin Tepe, revisited again in 2006 but the primary focus of the 2005 season, the open landscape provided for good visibility and many sites could be located easily by sight. The western and northwestern lakeshore areas include a thick layer of alluvium and lacustrine deposits that are not conducive to surface identification of sites. For this reason, we surveyed only a few of these low lying areas in 2006, concentrating instead on the uplands.

Methods

The methods we employed were similar to those of the 2005 season. We recorded the locations of all surveyed features using hand-held Global Position System (GPS) receivers, marked their locations on 1:25,000 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 (SUs) comprised agricultural fields and other topographic forms, 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 survey tracks walked through each survey unit, we counted all cultural materials encountered (e.g., sherds, tiles, lithics), and collected diagnostic materials for purposes of assessing the date and type of cultural activity represented. In addition, longer tracks were walked along prominent ridges with no clearly defined boundaries. New tracks were begun at major natural breaks (e.g., ravines) or at points of distinct cultural materials. 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 we employed, we again consulted local informants in the area, particularly the farmers whose fields we walked. These conversations provided contemporary information for determining landscape use, settlement migration, 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 164 fields, resulting in a coverage of between 78,826 and 157,652 m2, or roughly 7.9-15.7 hectares. We concentrated on ridges, slopes and 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 vinyards. We avoided fields planted in cereals (mature or harvested barley and wheat) and slopes and ridges densely vegetated with maquis and other shrubs due to their poor surface visiblity, and such areas constituted the largest gaps in the coverage of the survey area. Our coverage of fields included the heavily silted flood plain on the western and northwestern shores of the lake. These areas were largely barren of archaeological materials: the majority of cultural material documented tended to be located along dredged canals or mixed with construction debris. Areas bordering the flood plain, especially on the southwestern and northeastern shores, and low mounds yielded more cultural material.

In 87 of the 164 survey units we noted no material culture at all. Of the remaining 77 survey units, we collected diagnostic material from 42; materials seen in the remaining 35 survey units was not diagnostic, and thus was not collected. The date of collected material ranged from Chalcolithic through Ottoman times.

As fields were surveyed, 27 points of interest (aside from tumuli) were identified according to the method described above, and these include the following sites: 14 sites with settlement remains (including one recently abandoned village); 6 sites with graves/cemetery areas with rock-cut or cist tombs; 2 ancient marble quarry sites; 1 site with architectural fragments; 1 isolated lithic scatter; 1 inscription; 1 ancient well; and 1 site associated with a fresh water spring.

Of particular importance for the purposes of this survey project was the discovery of new settlements of diverse periods. The settlements appeared to be somewhat evenly distributed throughout the landscape of central Lydia, from the shoreline of the Gygaean Lake, west towards the foothills of the Gür and Lale Dağları, and north towards the foothills north of the lake. Occupation periods ranged from Chalcolithic to Ottoman times. Of specific interest were sites with heavy sherd scatters of specific time periods. While these sites may be multi-period, there as a high percentage of one period relative to others. The Ottomon and Byzantine periods were best represented by POI06.020A-B. While Late Roman and Roman period occupation is certainly attested, it was not found in great quantities, particularly compared to denser occupation at other sites in the region (e.g., Sardis). While Chalcolithic through Iron Age finds were noted in several areas, the only possible Neolithic evidence from this year was noted at SU06.023: one ceramic body sherd with triangular impressions. Of specific interest for this year are Lydian–Persian and Middle–Late Bronze Age settlements.

The Middle–Late Bronze Age sites were POI06.01 (Kaymakçı) and POI06.24 (Asartepe). Kaymakçı occupies the entire lower ridges of Gür Dağ known locally as Kaymakçı and Karataş Sırtları. More than one kilometer in length, the site includes multiple large terraces that supported large enclosures, some with c. 1.4 m-wide walls, and buildings, some with 0.85 m-wide walls. One day of handheld-GPS surveying provided data that will be used to make a rough site plan, leaving more detailed mapping for survey in 2007. Asartepe is a hilltop site located north-northwest of Kılcanlar. This site consists of a large terraced hilltop upon which are scattered building remains, as at Kaymakçı. The building remains are not as well-defined as those at Kaymakçı, but future intensive survey is intended to clarify the features of the site.