Extensive Survey, 2007

A regional focus is necessary to contextualize the immediate influence of sites, allowing for detailed investigations of shifts in importance or power, stretching from periods of earliest inhabitation in the region through to the early modern period. To this end, CLAS continued to conduct extensive regional survey in 2007 over three days and interspersed with other fieldwork to further elucidate regional settlement patterns and various uses of the central Lydian landscape.

Reassessment of POI05.40 (Ahlatlı Tepecik) and POI05.43

Based on preliminary analysis of 2005 finds, CLAS determined that POI05.43 is the earliest site within the survey area yet located. Situated in the southeastern area of Bin Tepe, the site today comprises a low, gently sloping hill, most likely the somewhat denuded remains of an occupation mound or höyük. The dense concentration of cultural remains, especially ceramics and lithics, calls for future work, particularly intensive survey. To set the stage for conducting intensive survey, we began to create a microtopographic map of the site in 2007; the boundaries of the microtopographical map were dictated by changes in slope to near horizontal and decreases in cultural material surface density. Limited collections of finds were conducted with each find location documented exactly with the RTK GPS system.

Analysis of the ceramic finds confirms Early Bronze Age and potentially earlier occupation Lithic analysis suggests Neolithic and Chalcolithic occupation, as well. Longer-term occupation of the area is shown through the discovery of Paleolithic lithic tools on the surface as well. Further analysis will focus on the potential of Paleolithic activities, particularly in a relatively open landscape.

A number of Early Bronze Age sites are located on the northern and southern edges of the limestone ridge of Bin Tepe. This year we revisited Ahlatlı Tepecik (POI05.40), first investigated and excavated by Sardis in the 1960s, and surveyed by CLAS in 2005. The reason for returning to Ahlatlı Tepecik in 2007 was primarily owing to the extremely low water levels in the lake resultant from drought. The Sardis expedition had noted walls/foundations extending into the lake in the 1960s and our investigations this year confirmed that such foundations still exist and that they are under threat from intensive farming situated to take advantage of the rich lake muds exposed during this period of low lake levels. In addition, we took samples from two stone blocks found near one wall foundation: one limestone block and one marble block. Numerous limestone and marble quarries northwest of the lake may have been the sources of these blocks, which could have been floated across the lake on rafts for use in constructions in Bin Tepe. In addition, we noted several lake scarps containing rich archaeological materials that are cut away by the lake more and more each year. Such scarps would be ideal targets for small-scale salvage excavations aimed at the development and/or refinement of ceramic typologies and chronologies.

Second Millennium BCE Citadels


Following the use of the satellite imagery for the planning of work at Kaymakçı, we scanned additional areas of the survey area for indications of other ancient activities. This scanning focused on areas previously not surveyed, yet a quick pass over areas surveyed in 2005 and 2006 produced two locations that were worthy of reassessment. The first, Asar Tepe (POI05.30) is located just south of the modern town of Dibekdere, overlooking the Hermos River valley to the south. From the satellite imagery, it appeared to have some sort of fortification features on its top surface. Upon investigation, these proved to be unrelated to ancient activities, but rather are most probably the remains of war trenches from the early 20th century Turkish War of Independence.

The second site, POI07.01, proved to be a 2nd Millennium BCE site with features similar to Kaymakçı, yet on a much smaller scale. A fortification wall rings a prominent hilltop and house foundations were found on the slopes to north and south. Preliminary analyses of the ceramics indicate types and varieties contemporary with those at Kaymakçı, yet lacking the abundance of grayware (at least based on preliminary survey analysis). Preliminary lithic analysis also indicates occupation and industries contemporary with Kaymakçı. Ground stone implements show a variety of stone sources seemingly richer than at Kaymakçı. Finally, as at Kaymakçı, fragments of burned mudbrick were found on the surface, suggesting both traditional mudbrick architectural practices in addition to the burning of the site in at least one point of its history.

Interestingly this site was overlooked during the 2006 survey of the slopes of the Lale Dağları west and northwest of the Gygaean Lake. Two survey tracks went directly north and south of this hilltop. Given the results from this year and our better understanding of 2nd Millennium BCE fortified sites, our future survey methods will continue to integrate satellite imagery with systematic/random ground survey strategies, while we will also continue targeted inspection of hilltop sites, taking into consideration the distances and intervisibility between sites.

POI07.04: Kızbacı Tepesi

During the course of extensive survey work aiming to assess additional sites located using satellite imagery, a prominent hilltop northwest of Kemerdamları (Salihli) was seen from the road (Fig. 12). The site was marked by terracing along its top, and indeed these terraces and other defensive features proved to be the remains of a fortification circuit encircling another 2nd Millennium BCE hilltop citadel, matching the style of those at Kaymakçı, POI07.01, and POI06.24 (Asartepe–Kılcanlar). Known locally as Kızbacı Tepesi (POI07.04), the situation of the citadel takes advantage of the natural topography, incorporating steep hill slopes and natural rock outcrops into the fortifications just as at other 2nd Millennium BCE sites previously mentioned. Outside of the ca. 1 ha fortified enclosure, domestic and other building foundations were found to extend down the slopes on all sides. The upper most area is accessed via a gate flanked by a monumental bastion on each side at the northern end of the site. A “megaron”-like structure may be preserved at the very top of the site, along with other structures that spread evenly over the site’s several terraces of slightly different elevation. These terraces and other topographical features were mapped with the RTK GPS system, as at Kaymakçı, over the course of one day to produce another microtopographical map of the site.

Analyses of the ceramic and lithic collections from Kızbacı confirm 2nd Millennium BCE occupation, and finds of a potential “Mycenaean”-like ceramic fragment illustrate the broad networks this area participated in, matching also similar networks demonstrated by the finds at Asartepe–Kılcanlar Similar to POI07.01 the surface remains at Kızbacı show more red wares than gray wares. The temper/clay here is also distinctive: unlike the other sites where gold wash is present but not abundant, at Kızbacı a gold tint/wash is present in most wares, and particularly in coarse wares. An abundance of mica in the area and the “gold” earth strongly suggest that local sources would have been exploited for local ceramic production. Lithic analyses also confirm the date of occupation. A telltale chert tool confirms that people at Kızbacı participated in a regional network and perhaps even long-distance exchange, procuring chert from some distance.

Conclusions for the 2nd Millennium BCE

POI07.01 and POI07.04 (Kızbacı Tepesi) fill in gaps between and beyond Kaymakçı and Asartepe–Kılcanlar, the latter located just above the modern town of Kılcanlar and the ancient Kılcanlar Höyük. This newly identified network of 2nd Millennium BCE fortified citadels shows that the Gygaean Lake and its constellation of strategically situated sites were a focus of regional power during this period. Settlement plans at all sites show remarkable similarities: fortified and terraced citadels with associated occupation and/or workshop areas extending far beyond the trace of the defensive circuits. Owing to its remarkable size and complexity, Kaymakçı must have been the core of this system, with the smaller, yet still impressive, satellite sites relatively equally spaced around the Gygaean Lake.

Some of the types and varieties of ceramic wares represented at Kaymakçı are found at other 2nd Millennium BCE sites in the region (e.g., Asartepe–POI06.24, Kılcanlar Höyük, POI07.01, and Kızbacı Tepesi–POI07.04), while preliminary analysis suggests slight differences between the assemblages. All sites probably date to the Middle–Late Bronze Age, but finds of “Mycenaean”-like wares are notably absent at Kaymakçı, perhaps indicating a later date for (some of) the smaller sites.

The traditional view that Lydian landscapes were relatively quiet until the rise of Sardis can no longer be held. Excavations at Sardis, particularly in the House of Bronzes, and the preliminary Sardis Expedition investigations around the Gygaean Lake in the 1960s confirmed Bronze Age activities in the area. Building upon the preliminary work of the Sardis Expedition, CLAS has begun to illustrate the regional distribution and nature of prehistoric activities in the area through regional survey. The results of the 2005 through 2007 seasons are beginning to show a shift in settlement patterns from the Early Bronze Age to the Middle–Late Bronze Age, with low occupation mounds in the rolling hills of Bin Tepe and along the lake shore of the Early Bronze Age giving way to strategically placed and fortified Middle–Late Bronze Age sites. These changes in settlement presumably correspond to major changes in political structure and the consolidation of power. The implications of these shifts for economic and social networks are the focus of our current analyses. At this point, we can say that central Lydia should no longer remain a “blank” on maps of Middle–Late Bronze Age western Anatolia. Our results indicate the importance of the area as a regional hub with an internal hierarchy of sites. These internal networks are of clear interest, but so too are the potential external interactions between the impressive and extensive Hittite sphere to the east and Aegean centers of power to the west. We aim to pursue these various avenues of research—with internal and external foci—in an integrative and contextualized fashion.