In recent years, excavations in Israel established that the Philistines had fine pottery, handsome architecture and cosmopolitan tastes. If anything, they were more refined than the shepherds and farmers in the nearby hills, the Israelites, who slandered them in biblical chapter and verse and rendered their name a synonym for boorish, uncultured people.
Archaeologists have now found that not only were Philistines cultured, they were also literate when they arrived, presumably from the region of the Aegean Sea, and settled the coast of ancient Palestine around 1200 B. C.
At the ruins of a Philistine seaport at Ashkelon in Israel, excavators examined 19 ceramic pieces and determined that their painted inscriptions represent a form of writing. Some of the pots and storage jars were inscribed elsewhere, probably in Cyprus and Crete, and taken to Ashkelon by early settlers. Of special importance, one of the jars was made from local clay, meaning Philistine scribes were presumably at work in their new home.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Friday, March 9, 2007
We have decided to kick off this blog with a brief overview of the Turkish archaeological record. As an anthropological archaeologist focusing primarily on prehistoric cultures, I have taken on the task of surveying the majority of
One of the benefits of starting the documentation of the project this early in the game is that visitors to this blog will witness, and also hopefully come to appreciate, all the steps in the archaeological process. These historical summaries represent the earliest attempts archaeologists make towards getting a handle on the relevant research that has already been conducted. As our familiarity with this literature grows, we will refine and add to the narrative presented in these first posts.
I have found Martha Sharp Joukowsky’s book Early Turkey: Anatolian Archaeology from Prehistory through the Lydian Period an adequate introduction to Turkish prehistory. Unless stated otherwise, this book is the source for the information contained in this post. The archaeologically recognized time periods (e.g. Paleolithic, Early Bronze Age, etc.) with a more detailed focus on Cilician sites when possible will provide the structure for this post. In addition I will provide a brief description of a few of the more well-known Turkish sites.
Within the broader discipline of anthropology, the period encompassing the earliest development of anatomically modern humans and our closest relatives is called the Paleolithic (Greek for “old stone”). This period extends from around 2,000,000 years ago to around 13,000 years ago. The Paleolithic is further subdivided into the Upper (2,000,000—120,000 Before Present), the Middle (300,000—30,000 BP), and the Lower (30,000—13,000BP). Despite such a long expanse of time (1.9 million years), archaeologists and hominid paleontologists know relatively little about this period, which in turn leaves plenty of room for contentious speculation.
In general, the recovery of stone tools provides the primary marker of this period. Archaeologists found the earliest evidence for human existence in
During the Middle Paleolithic,
Wrapping up the Paleolithic, the caves at Karain and Beldibi near
The next period is called the Mesolithic (Greek for “middle stone”) or Epipaleolithic which lasts from around 12,000—8,000 BCE. Archaeologists know very little about the Turkish Mesolithic at this point. However it is apparent that stone tools became more and more specialized, a trend which began in the Lower Paleolithic.
During the Mesolithic, the glaciers of the latest ice age began to retreat. This led to a slow, yet steady, environmental change. Around the same time, the human population of
Whatever the precise relationships between changing environmental conditions and human behavior, these developments set the stage for the Neolithic Revolution, which many archaeologists consider to be one of the most significant events in human history. The Neolithic (unsurprisingly Greek for “new stone”) lasted from 10,000—5500 BCE.
By around 9000 BCE, the area around the
Located in eastern Turkey along a tributary to the Tigris River, the site of Çayönü Tepe (tepe is Turkish for “hill”), dating to around 9000 BCE, represents the first evidence of wattle and daub architecture in Turkey, and the earliest use of metal tools anywhere (at least by the time of the publication of Joukowsky’s book). In addition, archaeologists have recovered evidence for the initial stages of the domestication of flora and fauna.
The PN period witnessed the development of Çatal Höyük (höyük is the Turkish word for “Tel”) one of the most well-known sites in the field of archaeology. Located on the Konya Plain just to the northeast of the Cilician plain, Çatal Höyük is the largest Neolithic site found anywhere in the
On the Cilician plain, the sites of
The Chalcolithic period (Greek for “copper stone”) from 5500—3000 BCE followed the Neolithic. An increase in the use of metal characterizes this period, but stone tools still predominated. New forms of ceramics and new architectural features such as fortifications begin to appear. Settlement studies provide evidence for population growth and stylistic changes suggest migrations into
On the Cilician plain,
The Early Bronze Age (3000—1900 BCE) is the last period this post will cover. Unsurprisingly, this period is marked by the widespread replacement of stone tools with bronze, which is an alloy of tin and copper. However, several other technological innovations occurred during this period: the plow, the sailing ship, and both the horizontal and vertical wheel.
Around 2300 to 2200 BCE urbanization began to take hold in
Also around 2300 BCE, a wave of destruction spread across Turkey and the larger Middle East, but hit particularly hard on the Konya plain, in Cilicia and in the Anatolian southwest. The resulting period of rebuilding led to the development of a larger sociopolitical entity consisting of unified city-states in the southwest, but also the abandonment of other long-occupied sites.
During the Early Bronze Age
Down on the Cilician plain,
This brings us to the conclusion of my portion of our “quick” survey of Turkish and Cilician history. Amanda will pick up next time beginning with the Middle Bronze Age.