Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ancient Kiln Site

Today we surveyed around Beykelu, a little way inland from where we were yesterday. Many of the sites we visited were sites that were observed in 19th-century travel narratives but never surveyed. The first site was a höyük that had some recent disturbance to its surface when the town dug irrigation channels. The construction resulted in many artifacts being brought up to the surface on an otherwise unplowed hilltop. The majority of our finds there were Bronze Age and Iron Age potsherds, periods which typically do not have such high artifact densities on the surface. We conducted an extensive survey of the hilltop and slopes (several of which were plowed), dividing the entire area into 7 quadrants total and bagging the finds for each quadrant separately. In my experience, many of these earlier sites have very few artifacts on the surface, and those that are on the surface tend to be worn-down body sherds that are not very helpful for dating or any other diagnostic analysis. This site, however, had an overwhelming presence of diagnostic pieces such as bases, handles, and rims, along with some decorated sherds. Other interesting finds were multiple stones that were worn down in the middle, as you can see below, indicating that they had been used as grinding stones.

Perhaps the most interesting find, however, was a few bitrified sherds, which have a yellowish sheen on their outer surface as a result of being overfired in the kiln. Now since this area of Cilicia was known in Roman times as a major center for pottery production, kiln sites have been a consideration in the back of our minds since we got here, so the discovery of these sherds was pretty exciting. In the same area we also found ceramic slag, which is overfired clay, so it definitely seems like we found an ancient kiln site on the top of this höyük.

We surveyed several other sites today as well, one of which had a huge white stone that legend says sits atop a pile of gold. It turns out this stone was part of an ancient olive press, so unless those infamous Cilician pirates and bandits buried their plunder under an old olive press, I’m not so optimistic about the veracity of this tale. For more on the olive press, you can check out Brandon Olson’s blog at http://historicalarchaeologyintheancientmediterranean.typepad.com. We met several locals who seemed very squeamish about letting us poke around too much, so our time at some of the sites was relatively brief. One of our local guides was even armed with a giant rifle, apparently for hunting wild boar in the hills and mountains.

2 comments:

Mary Anne Calamas said...

Yikes. Be careful out there!

nb9w1c29 said...

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