Archaeology

Patterns of settlement

Our project has documented occupation ranging from the Middle–Upper Paleolithic through the early modern period. Neolithic and Chalcolithic sites are limited compared with Early Bronze Age (EBA) sites, suggesting a rapid period of settlement growth by the mid 3rd millennium BCE. The Middle to Late Bronze Age (M–LBA) sites of the 2nd millennium show increasing differentiation in size and location with both large and small sites located near the lake as well as at prominent points in the uplands; the latter allow for extensive visibility and defensibility—some were even fortified, indicating urban tendencies on a level previously undocumented in the region. A shift in settlement location during the Lydian period follows, with the abandonment of some M–LBA locations in favor of areas with easier access to agricultural land. Prominent locations in the Lydian period were still occupied but perhaps more for purposes of visibility (for communication with Sardis) than for large-scale defensibility; certainly nothing on the scale of the fortification walls at Sardis has been noted outside of the capital. Furthermore, Lydian period monuments—tumuli—now dotted prominent ridges around the Gygaean Lake, and especially in Bin Tepe, revealing the importance of intervisibility with Sardis and the significance of the lake itself, which had attracted sacred and ancestral value by this time. Continued survey in the northern, eastern, and southwestern parts of the study area will fill out this picture.

Patterns of interaction

Early Bronze Age ceramic groups in central Lydia show similarities to contemporary assemblages from sites to the east (e.g., Beycesultan and Demircihöyük), north (e.g., Troy), and west (e.g., Liman Tepe), suggesting broad-ranging ties in most directions. In addition, a number of ceramic groups point to increasingly strong local traditions, perhaps indicative of rising prosperity in Lydia.

Kaymakci, a prominent fortified site

Kaymakci, a prominent fortified site

Almost completely unexpected in our survey was the discovery of large, fortified M–LBA sites. These sites suggest that central Lydia may have been more integrated into broader Aegean and Anatolian socio-political networks than previously recognized. The exact nature and chronology of these networks remain to be fully understood, in large part due to the relatively poor understanding of central Lydian ceramic chronologies, a problem CLAS seeks to help rectify. Our abundant surface survey finds, particularly those collected from apparently single-component sites, will provide a starting point.

The vast array of Lydian ceramics from a number of sites was also unexpected. Preliminary analysis indicates a full range of Early Lydian through Late Lydian (Persian period) pottery, providing a rare glimpse of continuous occupation at rural sites throughout the rise of Sardis to the status of capital and its subsequent conquest and control by the Achaemenid Persians. Preliminary results suggest that sites in central Lydia were affected only on a limited scale by Persian domination, indicating the continuity of strong local traditions and networks.

Patterns of procurement and production

Our study seeks to understand the production of different types of material culture and its organization, usually good indicators of political complexity as well as of economic and social networks. Chemical signatures of artifacts are good indicators of the number and types of resources exploited, providing lenses into the organizational complexity of workshops. By the 2nd millennium in central Lydia political organization appears to have been focused around the Gygaean Lake; by the Iron Age political control emanated from Sardis. How did these socio-political changes influence the production of goods used by common households as well as by high-status members of society? Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA) results of ceramics from a number of different sites dating to the EBA, M–LBA, Lydian, and Late Lydian periods will allow us to compare settlement data with production of goods. CLAS will investigate also sources of clay and temper and the chemical signatures of their combinations in various ceramic recipes. Are certain wares produced in workshops under centralized control? Do certain sites appear to have controlled the production of specific ceramic types and their resource procurement zones?

img_0530The organization of central Lydian ceramic production will be juxtaposed with production processes known from Sardis (e.g., gold refining, jewelry manufacture, and ceramic production) and will be compared to the production of other Lydian monuments. Inductively Coupled Plasma–Mass Spectrometry (ICP–MS) analyses of marble and limestone samples from tumulus tomb chambers and quarries in central Lydia will provide data for the range of sources used and the degree of localized procurement for individual chamber complexes. To understand more fully tumulus construction processes, these data will be combined with detailed tomb chamber recording and the results of micromorphological analyses of samples taken from the exposed scarps of tumuli.