Sunday, July 20, 2008

Beach Day at Arsuz

Yesterday we spent our free day in Arsuz. Since it was our first day off, we spent the majority of our time either at the beach or one of the many fine restaurants. There was one rule, no archaeology talk. Needless to say most of us are archaeology dorks and the rule was broken a few times. The highlight of the trip was the two tackle football games on the beach. The locals looked at us in utter disbelief but we did convince a few to play. Below I have posted a picture of our group at the wonderful beach.

A small group spent the day in the Payas area north of Iskenderun. Depending on which theory one ascribes to, the Payas River was the location of the infamous Battle of Issus. At the battle Alexander the Great routed the massive Persian army on his way through Anatolia. Our geomorphologist has written an article arguing for the Payas River as the location for the battle. Today was more of a reconnaissance day rather than archaeological survey. We observed the geology of the river system and the archaeological sites in the area. As it currently stands the distance from the coast to the foot of the Amanus Mountains by way of the Payas River is approximately 4 kilometers. According to the classical sources the width of the Issus battlefield (from the coast to the foot of the mountains by way of the Pinarus River) was 2.6 kilometers. Our geomorphologist argues that in the last 2300 years the coastline at the mouth of the Payas River receded 1.4 kilometers. Our brief observation of the current coast, however, yielded a sizeable Late Roman/Byzantine site with a visible foundation. This throws a little doubt on the argument that the Payas River was the ancient Pinarus and thus the battlefield site. One of the site directors questioned how the site could be there if the coastline receded 1.4 kilometers over the last two millennia. One would expect the late Roman site (say 600 A.D. as a conservative estimation for the coastal site) to be situated further from the coast. Below I have posted pictures of the Payas River showing the significant modern development of the Iskenderun Bay.

Posted by Picasa

No comments: