Fieldwork

Pre-CLAS: Previous surveys in Lydia

[Please pardon the lack of information here, but this page is under construction.]

2005 season

The first season of the project was dedicated first and foremost to the mapping of tumuli in the area known as Bin Tepe, or “The Thousand Mounds,” the c. 72 km2 area located along the southern shore of the Gygaean Lake. In addition to accurately documenting 120 tumuli in Bin Tepe, the project undertook preliminary geomorphological investigations and systematically recorded 286 survey units, covering 137,288 m2, or approximately 14 hectares. While conducting field survey, 46 points of interest were identified for future, more intensive investigation; these included settlement areas, cemeteries, a bridge, and other miscellaneous sites. Collected finds revealed activities dating from at least the Early Bronze Age through the early modern period.

2006 season

In 2006 the CLAS study area was extended beyond the c. 72 km2 area of Bin Tepe to encompass a c. 346 km2 region surrounding the Gygaean Lake. This extension aimed to include all areas of diverse landscape in the environs of the lake in order to investigate the area and its resources more holistically.

Preliminary extensive fIeld survey focused on the hilly upland areas west and northwest of the lake, surveying 164 survey units and covering 157,652 m2, or approximately 16 hectares. An additional 27 points of interest were identified including settlements, cemeteries, marble quarries, and various other sites. Collected finds, many of which were sampled for chemical characterization, revealed activities dating from the Early Bronze Age through the early modern period, though some suggestion of Chalcolthic and Middle Paleolithic activities from the 2005 season were strengthened in 2006.

Additional projects focused on tumuli (architectural recording of tomb chambers; micromorphological sampling of construction sediments; and monitoring of looting activities) and paleoenvironmental research (lake-sediment coring and bathymetric survey).

2007 season

The 2007 CLAS season focused on the testing of new methods of conducting intensive archaeological survey of cultural material remains. Generally following the example set by the archaeological project at Kerkenes Dağ in central Anatolia, we began to employ satellite imagery and geophysical methods to understand features across the region with greater clarity. When sites were discovered in the imagery or located through more traditional survey methods, we used a Real-Time Kinematic Global Positioning System (RTK GPS) to document the site, allowing topographic features to be mapped with centimeter-level accuracy. This microtopographic approach is extremely time efficient and yet provides very accurate three-dimensional documentation of ancient remains. The microtopography was then augmented by traditional systematic survey of cultural remains as well as by geophysical prospection.

We employed these various methods most intensively at one major site: Kaymakçı in Hacıveliler (Gölmarmara). This Middle to Late Bronze Age fortified site is larger than any previously documented prehistoric site in Central Lydia. Preliminary work in 2001 and 2006, supplemented by satellite imagery obtained in the fall of 2006, suggested the site’s large extent, complete with some degree of “urban” planning within major fortification walls. The size and complexity of the site strongly suggested to us that during the 2nd Millennium BCE central Lydia may have functioned as a major hub in western Anatolia, perhaps with Kaymakçı at its center. Based on preliminary results from previous years of CLAS fieldwork that identified numerous other prehistoric sites, we surmise that the transition from the Early Bronze Age to the Middle–Late Bronze Age was accompanied by a major shift in sociopolitical structure, materially manifested in part by a nucleation and enlargement of sites. A large part of the 2007 season was dedicated to studying Kaymakçı, as well as to exploring whether contemporary sites of equal or lesser size could be found in the area and, if so, investigating the interrelationships of such sites and their possible connections with cultural spheres outside of Lydia.

2008 season

Project work in 2008 focused on understanding ceramic typologies and chronology in central Lydia; defining the earliest evidence for human activities in the survey area, specifically at one site, Bozyer (POI05.43); detailed mapping at two fortified sites of the second millennium BCE (POI07.01 and Asartepe (POI06.24)); further defining the organization and extent of Kaymakçı (POI06.01), the largest site of the region during the second millennium BCE; further exploring evidence for fluctuation in the water levels of the Gygaean Lake as well as its location over time; and assessing the overall condition of sites and monuments, given the high frequency of plunder and other forces that destroy cultural heritage in the region.

2009 season

Our primary fieldwork goals were to conduct intensive survey at Kaymakçı, the largest second millennium BCE site in the region (and possibly in all western Anatolia) and to continue regional field survey along the northern side of the Gygaean Lake with systematic field walking and ground-truthing methods. Laboratory work focused on refining the ceramic typology; efforts concentrated also on establishing a centralized database system to manage and eventually make public all project files: photographs, drawings, maps, and other documentation of our sites and finds. In addition, time was spent in discussions with local stakeholders and officials for purposes of further developing a regional Heritage Management Plan, which should be completed and available for comment in Fall 2009. Community Outreach included informational talks arranged in collaboration with village muhtars and a children’s educational painting competition focusing on the natural and archaeological heritage of the region.

2010 season

Project work in 2010 included regional field survey, materials analysis and data management, sustainable heritage preservation, community outreach, and tourism development. Our primary fieldwork goals were to continue regional field survey in the southwestern area of our survey area, south of the Kaymakçı ridge and west of Bin Tepe, with systematic field walking and ground-truthing methods. Laboratory work focused on archaeological find documentation and registration in a centralized database system. As part of our sustainable heritage preservation initiatives, we focused on the documentation of Eski Hacıveliler, a village abandoned in the mid-twentieth century. In addition, we held discussions with local stakeholders and officials for purposes of documenting local histories, and we began to produce informational posters about the region’s archaeology, landscape, ecology, agriculture, and villages for developing tourism programs. Community outreach included also a watercolor painting workshop and a children’s educational painting competition focusing on the natural and archaeological heritage of the region.