Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Post from the Prodigal Blogger

I have been incommunicado for the vast majority of this field season. That is partly due to the immense shame Brandon et al. have instilled in me by being extremely proficient bloggers. It is also due to the fact that I spent the majority of my time doing GIS work in the lab, and to be honest, we are trying to attract more readers, not bore them to tears.

However, since the end of the 2008 field season, I have been steadily making my way northwards in a zigzagging pattern to reach my flight leaving Istanbul on August 4th. I will post an entry for each new stop along the way.

The remaining members of the Mopsos Project parted ways early in the morning on June 27th in Adana. Mike, Muge and Dr. Scham left around 2:30 in the morning from the Osta Hotel and Amanda and Dr. Killebrew departed a few hours later. I woke up around 7 AM that morning to find myself alone in Turkey. Thankfully, Muge and Volkan had prepared me for making my way in a Turkish world.

My goal for that day was Konya. Most of what I could tell you about Konya is not much more than you could find on Wikipedia. I was going primarily for its proximity to Çatal Höyük--one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. Çatal Höyük, located about an hour away from Konya, is known primarily as one of the earliest cases of human sedentism and permanent architecture in the world. It is also the site where the well-known archaeologist Ian Hodder has conducted much of his work.

Konya itself is known mainly in the West as the birthplace of the Mevlevi Order of Sufic Islam (aka "whirling dervishes"). Again, Wikipedia can provide more information than I possibly could. However, I must say that I found comfort in one of the Mevlana's most famous sayings as I explored the city:

Come, come, whoever you are,
Wanderer, idolater, worshiper of fire,
Come even though you have broken your vows a thousand times,
Come, and come yet again.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.

Next up: Göreme

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mopsos Survey 2008 Comes to an End

Today marked the end of the Mopsos Survey season. Students continue to frantically finish their journals and photo databases while staff enter last minute data and complete their field reports. To bring the season to a proper conclusion we had a barbeque. The basketball, football, and grilled meat marked the perfect end to a great season. For the record, however, it is never a good idea to play basketball and football with a broken rib! Below I have posted pictures of the festivities. I now let you ponder what is going on with Thad’s hand in the basketball picture. I was right there and could not figure it out. Thanks for the great season everyone, see you next year.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Last Day of Survey

Today was our last survey day of the season, and our first act this morning was to survey a höyük site with a dense concentration of pottery that covered the summit and the northeastern area of the hill.I was tasked with marking the edge of the site with a GPS; I found myself walking downhill though thick lime orchards, looking (for what seemed a very long time) in vain for the edge of the site. I kept finding ceramic roof tiles, handles to vessels, even a large fragment of a pithos – tough meets classy, friends. This concentration eventually visibly thinned about 200 m northeast from the base of the hill, and came to an abrupt end in a school yard and some buildings. I also headed west, and found the site dropped off a lot sooner. We also found a number of sherds of medieval and Ottoman pottery, types we have not found a great deal of during this survey, surprisingly. These sherds have a distinctive green glaze, still attractive after hundreds of years. The local man who owns the land at the top of the höyük said that he has found many examples of this style of pottery there. We also learned today from the same man that much soil quarrying has gone on in this location. This is an agricultural practice where large amounts of soil are excavated from the area and shipped to other, less fertile areas. You can imagine what disconcerting implications this has for archaeology, especially surface survey. We got the impression that it may not have been to areas too far from the höyük site, but still, it seems that the archaeological record in the area could be quite mixed up.

We later visited a site located near the remains of a Roman aqueduct, on foothills overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the Amanus Mountains.

This site was huge; we were not able to sample nearly the entire area today, but we still found a great number of roof tiles, and also a large amount of fineware, among other ceramic remains. It was not a bad setting to wrap up the season in, either. Hasta la vista, Cilicia.
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Monday, July 21, 2008

Project Slowly Winding Down

Today several students stayed back from the field to work on assignments and personal projects. Jeff worked on his photo database, field journal, and GIS work on hydrography. Andrea also worked on her photo database and field journal and then marked pottery. Thad continues to work on his research paper while Juan spent the majority of the day marking pottery. I spent the day putting the final touches on my GIS project. Below I have posted the project report.

After consultation with Pete I decided to work on a GIS project in the Payas River area. Starting with the Quad maps, contour maps, Corona images, and aerial photographs I determined that the Quad maps and Corona images would be the best sources for my project. The goal of the project is to use the Quad maps and Corona images to create a survey methodology for the Payas River, the proposed location of the Battle of Issus. The best way to prove or disprove the Payas River battlefield thesis is through pedestrian survey with a well-designed methodology.

According to the classical sources the length of the Issus battlefield was 2.4 kilometers from the coast to the foot of the Amanus Mountains. Furthermore, the sources note that Alexander marched from Myiandros to the battlefield in a day and fought the next. There are three major rivers north of Myriandros and southeast of Issus, which scholars have noted as the battlefield site. If one accepts the classical narratives, the battlefield must be within a day’s walking distance from Myriandros and measure (now or in the past) 2.4 kilometers from the coast to the mountains. According to the geomorphologist the Payas River, which today measures 4 kilometers in width, measured 2.4 kilometers in antiquity and was the site for the great battle.

I began my GIS project by georeferencing the Quad maps with the Corona images. This essentially aligned the two images. I then set the Quad maps at 60% transparency so the modern development depicted on the Quad maps could be seen on the Corona images. I then created a feature class where I could draw the current coastline. With the current coastline in place I copied the line and moved it 1.6 kilometers inland so that it would represent a projected ancient coastline. Given the arbitrary nature of the ancient coastline projection I added a 200 meter buffer line on both sides. The GIS map depicts the projected ancient coastline with a buffer zone, modern coastline, modern development that would restrict certain areas to survey, and the Payas River.

Using the measuring tool I determined that the site of Myriandros is approximately 22 miles from the Payas River. The two remaining contenders are further north of the Payas River, which suggests that if the classical sources are correct and the site of Myriandros was correctly identified the Payas River appears to be the most likely site for the infamous battle. To further support the Payas River battlefield theory a survey must be conducted on both sides of the proposed ancient coastline. If the Payas River was the ancient Pinarus there should not be pre-Classical material west of the proposed ancient coastline. If there is material, however, the Payas River cannot have hosted the Battle of Issus.

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.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Stories and Legends

Hello all -

Thad Olson here – your guest blogger for a day. I'm a 2nd year grad student in the history department at Penn State. This is my first archaeological experience, and one of my favorite parts of the experience has been hearing the wealth of stories and legends related to us by the people we have met. The richness of the religious and mythical landscape here is fascinating.

Many of the stories we have heard have come from old men we meet in coffee shops when we stop for breakfast. We've learned to ask if there are any old men in town who know the old stories well. We've had a lot of success with this, and thought we would share some of our favorite stories with you.

Most of the stories we've encountered have related to huyuks (earth mounds) on which we've found ancient artifacts. They often center on a treasure buried in the hill long ago, and some kind of guardian creature or being who protects the treasure. It is interesting to note that the villiagers have similar ideas about the mounds that we do – there's buried treasure to be found!

Here's a selection of the stories we've encountered thus far:

1) At Tell al-Abd, a steep high hill which contained Bronze age pottery, a local man named Nihat told us that before the time of Alexander the Great, the local people had buried precious and magical weapons in the hill. Since the weapons were buried, a giant has protected the hill and the weapons as a guardian spirit.
2) At UcGulluk, a small hill near town which contained Bronze Age through Roman material, Nihat told us that a magical rooster guards the hill. He believes the rooster may be guarding a treasure. The magical rooster used to crow about 4AM, but it has not been seen for about 20 years. Many of the older people in town claim to have seen the rooster prior to 20 years ago.
3) Near UcGulluk, Nihat and another villiager Sezai lead us to a small stream, which they believe has healing powers. The spring has been mostly covered with dirt by the villiagers, as its water is not good for the olive trees growing nearby. Nihat and Sezai believe the spring cures skin diseases.
4) Nihat also pointed out another hill near the sacred spring, which he says is guarded by a magic goat. Around 1000 years ago, people buried weapons on that hill, and now the goat guards the hill.
5) Another hill near UcGulluk, which we did not see, was reported by Nihat and Sezai to be guarded by a woman with the lower body of a snake.
6) In the town of Mandenli, a man named Ali showed us a classical site on a hill near town. A modern cemetary is located on the top of the hill, and many members of Ali's family were buried there. According to Ali, a magic rooster has also appeared at this site. During the lifetime of Ali's father (who died in 1990), an Imam came to sleep on the hill and try to discern the reason for its holy nature, but was unable to understand what made the site holy. In addition to the rooster, from under the tomb of Ali's uncle, a spring now moistens the ground, which Ali believes to be a miracle. At the same site, 2 years ago, a light appeared in the sky during a wedding, which Ali believes to have been a miracle.
7) In the town of Beykoyu, an 84 year old man named Çemil told us a story about a huyuk near his house, upon which we found Bronze Age pottery. A few hundred years ago, a man named Abdul found a door into the hillside with light coming out. Inside the doorway was a woman with two dogs. Slipping into the doorway, the man was able to steal a silver bowl, which was very heavy, before the woman ordered the dogs to attack. He just managed to slip out before the door slammed shut behind him. Çemil claimed to have seen this bowl himself. Some time ago, the bowl was sold to a man from a town near Iskenderun.

My own studies at Penn State have focused a lot on early Roman and Italian religious systems, and listening to the amazing stories we've encountered here have given me something of a new appreciation for early twentieth century scholars like James Frazier and W. Warde-Fowler, who tried to use then-current anthropological theories to explain the emergence of religion. Warde-Fowler in particular wrote a lot about the emergence of early Roman religion in terms of vaguely understood spirits or powers known as numen. Warde-Fowler thought about these numen as protective powers often tied to specific places, some of which eventually developed into the well-known dieties of the classical Roman pantheon. The stories we are hearing in Turkey seem like they could fit very nicely into what Warde-Fowler was saying about the development of early Roman religion. Today, most students of classical polytheism have rejected the anthropological models of religious development proposed by Warde-Fowler and his generation. There are many reasons for this, but three important ones are that 1) archaeological evidence became increasingly available which could be used to test these theories (they didn't hold up well) 2) Anglophone scholars became increasingly aware that German scholarship had long since passed them by (and in fact, had never really adopted English anthropological models) 3) It was realized that there was really no evidence at all to support the elaborate theories created by Warde-Fowler and his successors. Today, scholers such as John Scheid, Mary Beard and others are increasingly returning to the use of anthropological models to explain the emergence of Roman religion, but todays scholars are much more cautious in their approach and much less speculative. I suppose all of this is a reminder to use the utmost caution in utilizing a comparative methodology in your research. On another level, though, hearing stories like these has been personally very useful as a reminder that my own preconceptions can get in the way of understanding others, both ancient and modern. And despite the fact that Warde-Fowler is today seen as quite out of style, I do think there is some insight into early religion to be gained by reflecting on these old stories from the villiages.

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.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Survey continued today around the small village of Ucgulluk. We have focused on the area’s many huyuks and documented several archaeological sites. Two of the more interesting sites, from my perspective, from today were the looted tombs and a large tunnel, which probably functioned as an ancient mine. The area with the looted tombs was a sad sight. Several sarcophagi fragments, roof tiles, and pottery littered the hilltop and fields below. The disheartening part was the half a dozen looter holes dug right into the graves. Looting of archaeological sites has been an issue forever but the evidence we discovered today was all very recent. A small dirt trail was constructed across the site, which likely uncovered the tombs. Once uncovered, the looters pillaged the site.

One of the local farmers notified us of a large cave outside of the village. We were able to locate and document it. A few of us were more than happy to do a little exploring but because we did not have a flashlight we could not go too far. The walls were clearly cut but the function of the tunnel remains unclear. Below I have posted pictures of the pillaged tomb site and Mike, Andrea, and I in the cave.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Field trip to Urfa

On Friday night we returned from an overnight field trip to southeastern Turkey. We left Thursday afternoon to drive to Urfa (ancient Edessa and the supposed birthplace of the prophet Abraham). The drive was about 6 hours, so we were forced to find ways to occupy ourselves. Below you will see one of our favorite bus trip pastimes – drawing on the faces of those who dared to fall asleep. Brandon started it all by drawing on Mike’s face, so then I drew on Brandon. He had no idea until we stopped at a restaurant for drinks and the waiters started laughing at him.

The restaurant was on the banks of the Euphrates River, one of the most important rivers in ancient Near Eastern history. The Euphrates, along with the Tigris River to the east, formed the borders of ancient Mesopotamia and was vital to many ancient empires, including the Babylonians and Assyrians. Several of the students decided to take a swim in the freezing waters of the Euphrates on our way east and/or on our way back, and it was incredibly refreshing in the extreme heat.

After arriving in Urfa late on Thursday night, we made a quick stop by Abraham’s Pond (below) and the Church of St. John the Baptist, as well as Urfa Castle.

We then ate dinner in one of the two restaurants in the entire city that serve alcohol since the Muslim population there tends to be quite conservative. Friday morning we ventured to the archaeological museum, which brags to hold the oldest monumental architecture in human history, a statue dating to the tenth millennium BC.

We also had the fortune to visit a rescue excavation in the old city center where they had stumbled upon a 5th-6th century AD structure while extending the sewer system. The complex is a huge building with many large and ornate mosaics. They uncovered one for us which depicted four Amazon queens hunting wild beasts, and the detail and precision was remarkable. We then journeyed on to a site about an hour away from the city called Gobekli Tepe, which some have suggested was the Garden of Eden. Amanda will be posting a blog with more details on this site.

We had hoped to have time after Gobekli Tepe to visit Harran, noteworthy among other things for its place along Abraham’s journey to the Promised Land and as the site of the triumvir Crassus’ murder in 53 BC. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for the extra leg of the journey and instead took an hour to wander through Urfa’s beautiful bazaar, where there were sold beautiful textiles, aromatic spices, and glistening jewelry.

We returned to Guzelyayla on Friday evening, tired and energized from more face-drawing and Euphrates-swimming adventures. It isn’t every day that you get to journey into southeastern Turkey and see archaeological sites off of the normal tourist track, so we were all very thrilled.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

7-12-08 Juan Höyük, Fire, and Roman Graves

Today, local villagers took us to sites they knew of in the area of Arsuz. The first site they showed us was a höyük (tel) with Roman, Hellenistic, Persian, and even Early Bronze ceramic remains lying on the surface. Much of the earlier material had been washed down from the top of the höyük, and we found most of the oldest sherds around the base of the mound. The höyük also featured a cut about 2 m high along one of its sides in which we saw large sherds in situ:

Juan was on fire today; he kept finding impressive fragments, so we named the site "Juan Höyük." Here he is beside the cut, holding up the handle to a vessel:

Juan also came close to literally being on fire - the villagers later took us to a site where natural gas is emitted from the ground, fueling a constant flame. The rock itself seems to burn:

We do not know what the lifespan of such phenomena is, but if this were burning already in ancient times, this site may have been a religous sanctuary or a ritual area, since the ancients were likely to have interpreted this fire as a divine manifestation. At least some ancient activity is attested here, from the ceramic material we collected, most of which is apparently Hellenistic.

Another site worthy of mention was an area containing Roman period graves. Apparently this site has previously been excavated, but it has since been looted and severely damaged:

Very little material would have been visible on the surface, but the looted pits still contained some remains. Here is a fragment of one of the ceramic coffins:

The bones of one of the occupants of this tomb are now exposed to the air:

The last site the villagers showed us was a natural spring, which they claimed is able to cure skin diseases. I, unfortunately lacking skin diseases, was unable to test this claim.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Day and a Half in Eastern Turkey

Yesterday at 11:00 am the Mopsos team boarded a bus for Sanliurfa. The drive was a little long, a touch over six hours each way, but we entertained ourselves. Our journey took us through the Turkish countryside and across the Euphrates River. We stopped in Beracik on the Euphrates and had Turkish tea and coffee. It took little time for Juan and I to strip of our shirts and shoes and dive right in. The water was incredibly cold but completely worth it. On the way back Jeff, Andrea, Amanda, Juan, and I all jumped in. After tea, coffee, and ice cream we boarded the bus and made it to Sanliurfa.
Despite the 125 degree heat from the previous day, we took in as many sites as possible. The first was Abraham’s Pool, which according to the Biblical tradition is the place where Abraham was saved from the Assyrian king Nimrod. Today it is a small lake with many fish. The second major site was Gobekli Tepe, which boasts the world’s oldest monumental architecture. Sandra Scham, a Mopsos Survey staff member, will be writing an article about the site in an upcoming issue of Archaeology magazine. The third and final major stop was Kapali Carsi, a large bazaar dating to the Ottoman period. The bazaar was full of locally produced goods including spices, scarves, other textiles, and various fruits and vegetables. A great time was had by all.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Off to Eastern Turkey

Just a short post today. The next two days are free from survey while we take a trip to Gobekli Tepe. The site is in eastern Turkey and will entail a six-hour bus ride on way. I have been told that it is truly a once and a life-time opportunity to see the site. So I will make sure and write all about it tomorrow, provided that I have access to the Internet. In preparation for our long journey the students had a social hour last night where many pictures were taken. Below I have posted a group picture. (Bottom from left to right) Andrea Gatzke, Thad Olson, me (Brandon Olson), and Jeff Herrick. (Top from left to right) Pete van Rossum, Volkan, Amanda Iacobelli, Muge, Mike, Serene (our Turkish rep), and Juan Tebes.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Meet Jeff

My name is Jeff Herrick and in the fall I will begin my second year studying Roman history in the MA/Ph.D. program in Ancient History at Penn State. I received a B.A. in History, with a minor in Classical Studies, from the University of Colorado. As an undergrad, I was wowed by the stories some of my professors told about their archaeological work in Turkey, and I have since grown more and more fascinated with the history and archaeology of Anatolia. This is my first time participating in an archaeologically expedition, and I jumped at the chance to participate in the Mopsos Landscape Archaeology Project, both for my own interest in the region, and because the Mopsos project, as an archaeological field school, is an excellent opportunity for me to both gain a firsthand understanding of archaeological theory and methodology.

The focus of the Project accords well with my specific research interests, as well, since I am focusing on the adoption of Roman culture in the Eastern provinces, and Turkey has not disappointed. Each day we find a great deal of ancient ceramic sherds: roof tiles, fragments of amphorae and pithoi (shipping and storage jars), fine wares, much of it from the Roman period, simply lying exposed on the ground, even in the locals’ backyards! It is stunning to realize that this material has simply been lying here for millenia, waiting to be picked up. When the data from this expedition is interpreted and presented in a coherent framework, it may tell us a great deal about the spread of Roman cultural practices, and the consumption of luxuries such as Italian wine. Even beyond the Roman material, today I found a sherd of pottery with a painted geometric design indicating that it probably dates to the Iron Age. Turkey is amazing.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Meet Andrea

Hello everyone. My name is Andrea and I am one of the novice members of this years Mopsos team. I just finished my second year at Penn State, completing my M.A. work right before leaving for this survey. My interests are Roman social history, particularly in the late Republic and Augustan period, and I am hoping to focus on Anatolia (Turkey) in my research, though which region precisely is still up for debate. That is a big reason why I am here this summer – to get an understanding of Anatolia, its geography, its culture, its environment, everything. It has been great over the last 10 days or so to see this area that I have read so much about and understand where the authors were coming from. My other main reason for participating in this survey of the Cilician plain is so that I may gain a better understanding of archaeology – how it works, how to interpret it, how I can use it – for my own research. I am primarily a historian and have very little archaeological background, but I fully recognize the important role that archaeology has in the understanding of ancient history. While there are some questions better answered by texts, other questions are more easily answered through the archaeological record, and I want to be able to access both sides of that historical coin. Before coming here my only archaeological experience was excavating for a week at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center near Cortez, CO, so this is my first field survey and my first archaeological work in the Mediterranean. I will try to keep you all posted on my experiences here as a first-time surveyor. For now, I will tell you that I am gradually gaining a better eye for the types of pottery pieces that we want to collect for analysis (rims, handles, bases, painted sherds, etc.). So far my most exciting finds have been several pieces of mosaic, a piece of an oil lamp, a glass base, and the survey’s first coin (never mind that it dates to 1964...). I will update you again in a few days, hopefully as a more experienced and knowledgeable surveyor.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Field Trip Day: Zincirli, Karatepe, Anazarbus and Hierapolis-Kastabala

We left base camp this morning at 6:30 am for Zincirli, Karatepe, Anazarbus, and Kastabala and returned at 9:15 pm. Needless to say it was a long day but well worth it. Our first stop was Zincirli, a Late Bronze Age and Neolithic site in upper Cilicia. The Chicago team heading up excavations do not arrive until July 15th so there was little to see at the site.

The next stop on our journey was the late eight through ninth-century Hittite site of Karatepe. The orthostat reliefs were amazing as they depicted various motifs such as the Tree of Life, religious scenes (see picture below), animals, soldiers, boats, and many others. Jeff Herrick and I crouched down in front of a large statue of Ba’al while Juan Tebes did his best Ba’al impression (see picture below).

The last two stops were particularly interesting for the Romanists. The site of Kastabala provided great entertainment. The site itself was breath taking. The remains of a Crusader/Armenian castle, a bath, a theater, a colonnade, and several archaeological features are well preserved. When Jeff Herrick, Thad Olson, Andrea Gatzke, and I explored the theater we entered an arched hallway. I entered first and was admiring the tumble at the back when all of a sudden I spooked a bat. It flew by me and I yelled “bat.” Jeff was right behind me and Thad was behind him. Funny enough Thad had his camera ready and took a picture. We have been laughing at Jeff’s expression for the better part of six hours. Luckily my back was turned and the camera did not preserve the look on my face.

The last stop was Anazarbus. It too preserved the remains of another Crusader/Armenian castle, a bath, churches, a theater, a colonnade, an aqueduct, a fortification wall, and much more. The highlight of the trip was the difficult hike to the castle. The view down to the Roman remains was my favorite. No matter what happens the rest of the season, my Turkey trip was worthwhile based on this one day of field trips. Below I have posted pictures of an orthostat from Karatepe, Juan’s best Ba’al impression, me on top of the Kastabala castle (it was really windy), Jeff’s priceless expression, the plain of Anazarbus with Roman material, and the Anazarbus castle.







Sunday, July 6, 2008

Brandon Olson: Penn State University

My name is Brandon Olson and this is my first year with the Mopsos Survey. I am a PhD candidate at Penn State in the Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies program. I have been asked to oversee the operations of this blog for the 2008 season and I gladly obliged. Over the next few days other contributors will provide personal introductions where they will describe their academic interests and explain why they decided to come to Turkey this year. After the initial introductions I anticipate this blog serving, as it did last year, as a public medium where contributors can discuss issues such as the daily grind of an archaeological survey, interesting finds, personal experiences, learning experiences, and their overall interpretations and opinions of what they are doing and why. That said I would like to provide my introduction.

In 2003 I earned a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology/archaeology from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. In 2004 I earned a Master’s degree in European Historical Archaeology focusing on antiquity from the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, England. After completing the program I became interested in utilizing history within archaeology. I realized that in order to do this I required formal training in history. So in 2007 I earned a Master’s degree in history from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Now I am at Penn State studying both the history and archaeology of the Roman Empire.

I decided to participate in the Mopsos Survey to, above all, enhance my archaeological training in the eastern Mediterranean. For the last three years I have worked in southern Cyprus with the Pyla Koutsopetria Archaeological Project (PKAP). Although I have worked with four other projects in the U.S. and Britain, PKAP really provided me with the fundamental archaeological training in a Mediterranean context. I hope to utilize this training while I am in Turkey. For each field season I try to set a few goals. Since this is my first year here I have yet to have a solid research design. Therefore my two goals for this season are simple. I hope to become proficient enough in GIS (ArcGIS) to make basic maps essential for my research and become more familiar with Roman pottery forms to better prepare me for working with the material next year.

The goal of this blog now is to provide posts daily but long days, internet issues, and fatigue may cause periodic lapses. I do maintain a personal blog, which I will on occasion double publish with this one. All the material, however, will be Mopsos Survey specific. Any comments or suggestions are always welcome.

Brandon Olson

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The 2008 Season Begins

We are back in Guzelyalya for a second summer with some familiar and some new faces. Unfortunately, Jeff Rop decided that he could find more productive ways to become a textually oriented Classical historian than tramp through fennel-choked fields. Nevertheless, Amanda and I have returned to Hatay with our knowledge of Turkish more or less intact and our lust for bags full of ancient pottery unsated.

We hope that the posts on Real-Time Archaeology this year will be more informative and more timely. I feel confident in promising an upgrade in content delivery because we are appointing a new blog master, Brandon Olsen, a fellow Mopsos Expedition surveyor who is also a legitimate blogging pro. I will let him tell you about himself later, once Amanda and I can figure out how to get him access.