Survey of Medieval Anatolian Castles

Location: Kütahya and Kocaeli Provinces

Years: 1982-1984

Project Director: Clive Foss

Participants: Robin Fursdon, Jonathan Western (1982), Michael Williams (1984), Diana Fursdon (1984), Rebecca Fursdon (1984)


In 1982, a project was undertaken that aimed to facilitate architectural and historical discussions of Byzantine and Turkish Medieval fortifications located in Anatolia.  It was determined that only places of historic interest that had not formerly been studied would be selected.  Methodologically, it was decided that the surveys would include all fortifications in the region, not only the main fortress.

The Medieval fortifications of Kütahya (ancient Cotyaeum, in Phrygia) were surveyed in August 1982 by Foss and Fursdon.  They were successful in producing a plan of all standing structures, as well as studying the construction and identifying the building periods: these ranged from the eighth to fifteenth century AD, with no earlier remains found.

Due to permit issues, the 1983 season was exclusively used for study.  Foss and Fursdon travelled through northern Anatolia in June and July, and assessed several fortresses to determine where future work might be conducted.

In 1984 survey work recommenced, this time in the provinces of Koaceli and Kütahya.  At Nicomedia, the citadel itself was small, but difficult to survey as it was very overgrown and required clearing; an outside wall could, however, be traced for 3km.  The fortress of Eskihisar (near Gebze) was also examined, and found to date to the twelfth through fourteenth centuries AD and exhibit three phases of construction.  The Fortress of Hereke (Charax) was also from the thirteenth or fourteenth century.  At Darıca (Rhitzion) a wall and tower were inspected, and appeared to have two building phases, beginning in the thirteenth century AD.  The castle at Bayramoğlu had been incorporated into a resort and little remained of the actual structure, though the scant ruins could be dated to Byzantine and Ottoman periods.

Some investigations undertaken on the Gulf’s south shore yielded few results: the fort at Hisareyn was too ruined to study, the castles near Bahcecik and Ovacik (reported by von Diest) could not be found, and what was purportedly a castle near Ihsaniye proved to be a caravansary from Ottoman times.  However, the team was successful in locating the monastery of Saint Autonomous at Tepecik and surveying Çoban Kalesi, located in the valley of Kırkgecit Su (Dracon).

Moving on to Kütahya Province, four castles were surveyed.  The first, at Altıntaş, was in poor condition, but displayed a complex with a granary and shops, among other buildings.  They investigated Kayser Kale (located northeast of Kütahya), a small fortress on a hill that had clearly acted as a beacon station to communicate messages.  At Saruhanlar a refuge site was surveyed, which was assumed to date to the Dark Ages.  Lastly, a castle at Eğrigöz near Emet was investigated, which appeared to date back to the ninth century AD, though it had seen rebuilding during the Ottoman period.  Efforts were made to conduct survey work on castle or fortress at Simav (Synaos), Hisar Bey, Bahtıllı, and Boğazköy (formerly called Kiliseköy, anciently Ancyra Sidera), but not enough remained of the structures to do this. 

Plans were produced for the nine castles mentioned and were published in two volumes.


1984: ‘The Year’s Work’ Anatolian Studies 34: 6-8

1985: ‘The Year’s Work’ Anatolian Studies 35: 6-8

See also:

Foss, C. 1985: Survey of Medieval Castles of Anatolia – 1: Kütahya. Oxford

Foss, C. 1996: Survey of Medieval Castles of Anatolia – 2: Nicomedia. London

Foss, C., Winfield, D. 1986: Byzantine fortifications. Pretoria

Foss, C. 1996: Cities, Fortresses and Villages of Byzantine Asia. Aldershot

Foss, C. 2002: Anadolu'daki Ortaçağ Kalelerinin incelenmesi 2: Nikomedia. İzmit

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Archaeology Related Disciplines

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