You are here:Home/Research/ Support for Research/ Project Grants/ Project Grant Reports/ 2004–2005/ Göksu Archaeological Project in 2004

Göksu Archaeological Project in 2004

Hugh Elton, Trent University, Peterborough, Canada, Project Grant 2004–2005

The third year of the Göksu Archaeological Project saw work in two seasons, May–June and September, in the Upper Göksu valley in the Taurus Mountains. The project’s survey area, to the north of Mut and south of Karaman, is centered on the churches at Alahan, which date to the fifth and sixth centuries AD. Placing this site in its regional context was a major part of the project. The planned construction of a dam north of Mut, which will flood this part of the Upper Göksu valley to a height of 305 m above sea level, gave extra urgency to investigating this area.

In the four-week spring season, the intensive fieldwalking team, led by Professor J. Newhard of College of Charleston, systematically surveyed 6.5 square kilometers, mostly within the planned flood area. At Kilise Tepe (a different site than the Kilise Tepe excavated by Nicholas Postgate), there was a detailed collection of material in 10 m squares; finds were mostly from the Roman and early Byzantine periods. This site also produced some stonework fragments, including parts of two small inscriptions. At the same time, extensive work took place in the mountains surrounding the river valley. Newly located sites included a cave settlement at Ona Ini and a small Roman settlement at Topkaya, notable for five tombs, including one with an elaborate façade, painted plaster decoration, and two inscriptions. In caves beside the Mahras Dağ monastery, two small Christian inscriptions were found. A small Roman-period settlement was located on the south face of the mountain, overlooking the plain of Sakız. At the north end of the valley, near the mountain of Göktepe, a large Roman settlement with a number of imported red-slipped finewares was discovered at Horoz. Finally, an unpublished Diocletianic land-survey inscription, which Michael Gough found in the 1960s, was rediscovered on a cliff face above Geçimli.

In the four-week fall season, there was a systematic program of recording ancient stonework in the modern village of Alahan. The volume of stonework as well as the number of tombs suggested that there was either a large village or a small city (ca. 300 x 300 m) underneath the modern settlement. This settlement was surrounded by a late antique fortification wall, 1.25 m thick, of small squared limestone blocks (0.2 x 0.1–0.15 m) over a mortared rubble core containing layers of tiles. Although the wall is not preserved along the entire circuit, there was at least one six-sided tower protruding from the wall circuit. Other finds from the village included a tile waster, a fragment of a marble table from a church, a ceramic bread stamp, and a piece of an imported basalt cereal mill. The majority of the ceramics collected were late Roman, including Phocaean imports, though there were a few medieval sherds. At Dağpazarı, a detailed architectural survey was carried out, together with some fieldwalking and magnetometry on the south end of the promontory work. This survey work produced mostly late Roman ceramics, including LR 1 amphorae. Three large cisterns were located as well as a new late Roman inscription, probably for a church, with biblical quotations. The magnetometry produced evidence for an additional tower on the wall circuit.

In addition to the fieldwork, educational visits were made by team members to sites outside the survey area during both spring and fall seasons. These included Silifke Museum and the city of Silifke, Kilise Tepe, Aya Tekla, Cennet ve Cehennem, Keben, Cambazlı, Imbriogon, Paslı, Mezgit Kale, Uzuncaburç, Kanlıdivane, Kızkalesi, Işıkkale, and Karakabaklı. The 2004 fieldwork was supported by grants from Dumbarton Oaks as well as the BIAA, the College of Charleston, the Gerda Henkel Stiftung, and private donations. The TOTAL Station was loaned by the AHRB Centre for Byzantine Cultural History at Newcastle University. The fieldwork took place with the permission of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism; the tesmilci was Yusuf Benli from Konya Museum. The support and assistance of the director of the Silifke Museum, İlhame Öztürk, and of the BIAA has been enormously helpful.