Amasra Survey

Location: Amasra (ancient Amastris); Bartın Province

Years: 1988-1991, 1993

Project Director: Stephen Hill

Participants: Richard Bayliss, Fiona Hill, William Sturdy, Clive Waddington, Brian Williams

Government Representatives: Nejati Kodalak (1988), Nurham Ülgen (1989), Cengiz İçten (1990), Hatice Kalkan (1991), Muberra Günel (1993) 

Funding: British Academy, University of Warwick


The Amasra survey was initiated in 1988.  It began with a preliminary season aimed at understanding the extent of architectural remains (Late Roman and Byzantine) on the site and planning future survey work there.  The survey focused on the land walls of Amasra Kale, the remaining city gates, and Kilise Camii (the East Church).  Though most of the Late Roman and Byzantine remains in the area are found at Amasra Kale and on Boz Tepe, the team also found sections of Late Roman wall around Bedesten.

In 1989 work continued between 24 July to 13 August, when the participants further investigated Amasra Kale and its monuments and created detailed plans of the Byzantine churches.  This year an electromagnetic distance measurer and theodolites were used for greater accuracy.  The churches appeared to date back to the ninth or tenth centuries AD and to have remained in use until the fifteenth.  The east and west gates, İç Kale, outer wall, and area around the Boz Tepe gate were also studied in depth.  The examination of the outer wall revealed the remnants of a Late Roman bathhouse, significant for demonstrating the extent of Late Roman occupation.  The Bedesten was also surveyed, and some emergency work was undertaken in an attempt to preserve the northern internal cross wall, which was very deteriorated. 

In August 1990 a third season of surveying was undertaken.  The survey of the Late Roman and Byzantine defences of both the Kale and Boz Tepe was completed, with a special focus on the sea walls of the Kale and the eastern defences on Boz Tepe island.  The entire circuit of walls was surveyed, and it was found that, sometimes only at the foundation level but sometimes to their full height, the entire wall circuit was intact; the position of gates and posterns could also be accurately planned.  Three large buildings were found near the defensive walls of Boz Tepe, possibly military installations.  Eleven Byzantine churches were recorded, two of which have been converted into mosques. 

In the fourth season of work during 1991, several main objectives were achieved.  The first was better understanding the four building phases of the fortification walls.  It was discovered that the entire plan of the fortress was set in the early Byzantine period, with many subsequent repairs, alterations, and changes that could be traced.  In addition to this, they were successful in analysing Genoese inscriptions around the area, finding that they fell into two chronological series.  A coin study was undertaken at Amasra Musuem and it was found, in the course of preparing a catalogue of coins for the museum, that there was a fairly active period of numismatic activity around the region during the early Byzantine period.  The smaller Byzantine church (Mescidi Camii) was recorded in great detail, and further understanding of its structural phases was gleaned.  Finally, a Roman bridge in Kemere Dere and some carved reliefs, as well as evidence for a network of ancient roads, was discovered in the territory surrounding Amasra.

In a final season in 1993, some diverse studies were undertaken.  Firstly, Amasra Kale was studied further for a clearer picture of its construction phases; it was discovered that the walls feature stretches of a Hellenistic foundation at some points.  It was also found that the Late Roman fortifications on the west side and the harbour workings were designed to create a well-defended naval base.  The team confirmed that there had been three main phases of Byzantine construction.  Secondly, some archaeological discoveries were made in Amasra’s east and west harbours and coves, including quays, rock-cut post holes and mooring loops, bollard sockets, and some chain workings.  Finally, rescue excavation work was conducted at a Roman bathhouse found in the centre of town in the course of modern redevelopment.  It was found to date to the first or early second century AD, and to be comprised of two plunge baths, with drains and hypocaust systems.


1989: ‘The Year’s Work’ Anatolian Studies 39: 13-14

1990: ‘The Year’s Work’ Anatolian Studies 40: 18-19

1991: ‘The Year’s Work’ Anatolian Studies 41: 20-21

1992: ‘The Year’s Work’ Anatolian Studies 42: 8-9

1994: ‘The Year’s Work’ Anatolian Studies 44: 5-8

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