Tumulus Exploration


During the course of the survey, we documented the presence of a total of 116 tumuli in Bin Tepe. Despite our intensive search, we failed to locate three previously explored and published tumuli: BT 66.3 (Hanfmann 1965: 51-2; McLauchlin 1985: 187-9; Ratté 1989: 184-5, no. 7; Dinç 1993: 132-3, no. 8; Roosevelt 2003: A3.47), Kendilik M2 (Bilgin, Dinç, and Önder 1996: 207-22; Roosevelt 2003: A3.43), and Canbaz Tepe (Hanfmann 1965: 47; McLauchlin 1985: 190-1; Roosevelt 2003: A3.44). While the latter two might have been reburied since their discovery, judging from the destruction of other nearby tumuli, BT 66.3 was probably destroyed completely in recent times. As a result of our survey, then, we know that there were at least 119 tumuli in Bin Tepe in ancient times.

Of these 119 tumuli, the burials of 19 are known from previous explorations, excavations, and publications. These include the following tumuli: Alyattes – Kocamutaf Tepe; BT 62.4; BT 63.2; BT 63.3; BT 66.1; BT 66.2; BT 66.3; BT 66.4; BT 66.6; BT 62.3 – BT 80.1; BT 80.2 – Çağlayan Tepe – Belenovası B; BT 89.1; Kendirlik M1; Kendirlik M2; Delik Tepe A; Akçeşme; Canbaz Tepe; Belenovası D; Belenovası G – 1976-2 (see Roosevelt 2003 for bibliography). The burials of seven other tumuli were newly explored and documented with measurements and photographs this season. With these seven newly documented burials, we now have information about the burials of 26 of the at least 119 tumuli in Bin Tepe. Three other previously documented tumuli bore evidence of associated but non-chamber-related architecture: two had crepis walls (BT 63.1 – Karnıyarık Tepe and BT 64.4 – Kırmutaf Tepe), and one was accompanied by a monument base (BT 63.5a). The 2005 survey in Bin Tepe revealed two more tumuli with associated non-chamber-related architecture: Üçtepeler A (T050606C012) and T050606D006.

A final and distressful result of the 2005 survey relates to both current and past looting and destruction of tumuli in Bin Tepe. We considered only seven of the 119 tumuli to be in “good” condition, meaning that the tumulus mound seemed relatively undisturbed. All other tumuli showed varying degrees of illicit excavation ranging from shallow 1 m-diameter pits to bulldozer trenches that have removed more than half the tumulus mound and destroyed the chamber tomb complex. In several cases, the holes on tumuli appeared to be quite fresh, no older than a few weeks, at most. Agricultural activities have also taken a toll on the preservation of archaeological materials in Bin Tepe. Although more gradual than active looting, field plowing associated with the planting, aeration, and irrigation of olive orchards, grape vinyards, and field crops is gradually erasing many monuments from the landscape of Bin Tepe. The most dramatic example of this is the complete destruction of three tumulus chamber tomb complexes excavated and published by the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis in the 1960s (BT 66.3, 66.4, and 66.6). The remains of the latter two of these tumuli were seen in their original position, but greatly disturbed, with the blocks of the architectural complex heaped in great piles. No trace of BT 66.3 was seen in its original position, but the blocks of its chamber were probably among others heaped in a nearby pile. Each of these three tumuli were destroyed during the course of plowing in an olive orchard.


While many tumuli were visited in the 2006 season, only two previously undocumented tumuli were recorded in 2006. These include the Kurt Tepe tumulus (T06.02) and Kılcanlar Aa (T06.07). Both have been subjected to looting and destruction, with evidence on the surface that the tomb complexes of both had been opened, looted, and at least partially destroyed in relatively recent times.

Two days were spent drawing the tumulus tomb complex of BT05.058, a complex that was documented for the first time in 2005. The tomb chamber and its associated stone furniture fragments were drawn along with the antechamber, porch, and dromos. While we intended to architecturally record additional tumulus tomb complexes initially documented in 2005, access to them had since been blocked by erosion of tumulus fill. With ministry permission, work in 2007 will include clearing of the modern accumulation of soils from the openings of previously accessible tumulus tomb complexes for the purpose of proper architectural recording.


In the 2007 season of CLAS we continued to investigate tumuli through micromorphology, reassessment, and discovery. While the 2001 extensive regional survey of Manisa and the 2005 survey of Bin Tepe sought to document all tumuli on the landscape, it is inevitable that tumuli will have been missed. Thus, as CLAS continues to conduct survey of other types of settlements and sites, we continue to document previously unrecorded tumuli. Only one previously undocumented tumulus was discovered during the 2007 season: Kemerdamları Aa (T07.01). It is a small tumulus with recent pits and trenches on its top and sides. Along its southeast slope were numerous fragments of at least one terracotta sarcophagus, indicating that at least one, if not the primary, grave of the tumulus had been destroyed.