Konya Plain Regional Survey

Location: Konya Province

Years: 1995-2002

Director: Douglas Baird

Participants: T. Raszick, A. Baysal, L. Martin, N. Russell, S. Helmsley, N. Stevenson, D. Cottica, Alison Hamer, Joanita Vroom, Scott Redford

Funding: BIAA, Liverpool University, British Academy, Society of Antiquaries of London


In 1995 a regional survey of the Konya plain was undertaken with the primary aim of putting Çatalhöyük into its historical context.  The survey hoped also to address outstanding questions about the plain’s long-term settlement history. 

The first full season was undertaken in August and September 1995, during which time 15 tell sites were located within the 12x10km area northeast of Çatalhöyük – only three of which had been known previously.  Field-walking revealed five more sites.  Each location was systematically and intensively sampled, and a contour plan was created for each site.  This allowed for the occupation periods for each to be determined, including prehistoric components that may have been deeply buried; thus the development and growth/decline of sites could also be discerned.  Already in the first season interesting patterns began to emerge.  A joint project in association with the geoarchaeological survey of the Konya basin led by Neil Roberts of Loughborough University aimed at reconstructing the plain’s envinronmental development by finding sites with stratified alluvial depositions, and dating the episodes. 

In 1996 work continued, with a variety of methods employed for locating sites: remote sensing and satellite imagery proved helpful in finding previously unknown sites, canal walking discovered sites not on topographical maps, and field walking usually located sites connected to ancient agriculture, especially Classical ones.  A general inspection of the topography also proved to be beneficial for finding new places.  The intensive collection and contour survey approach was continued on some of the multi-period tells.  New perspectives were achieved as other Neolithic sites were found around Çatalhöyük; it was observed that they were all smaller than Çatalhöyük, and perhaps served as subordinate communities.  Patterns of settlement, development, and abandonment continued to be explored.

By 1997 the survey area comprised approximately 450km2 of land around the Çarşamba alluvial fan, and 74 sites had been identified (many of which were multi-period).  The same diverse array of finding methods continued to be applied this season, and the complex occupation sequences of individual sites continued to be unravelled.  Some notable events included the documentation of a second epipalaeolithic period occupation (around 8000BC), and the discovery of a few Selçuk-Ottoman period sites.

The next season, 1998, was devoted primarily to study.  A detailed study of ceramics and the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Early Bronze Age, second millennium BC, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine assemblages yielded new information on the occupation periods on certain sites.  Characterising the items found throughout the survey refined the researchers’ understanding of the local production versus import occurring on the plain, providing important insights into the region’s economic and communication activity. 

In 1999, the primary goal of study was to explore the extent to which the settlement histories of the hills and nearby alluvial fans resembled each other, which would indicate whether the histories collected were reflective of alluvial environments alone or connected to more widespread phenomena.  Working this time to the west of the Çarşamba alluvial fan, they employed a variety of methods, including field-walking, canal walking, asking locals for information, and inspecting features on satellite images that looked similar to known sites.  These were all very successful, yielding information about epipalaeolithic material and further Neolithic communities.  A significant increase in Middle and Late Bronze Age sites was observed throughout the course of the season, likely due to the survey taking place further west than usual.  Some 10-16th century sites were also documented; overall, a number of new insights were gained into the Konya plain’s development over time.

The 2000 season saw the continuation of intensive survey work.  The survey area this time focused more on the western edge of the Konya plain – an area with higher rainfall than in the Çarşamba, providing a contrasting point of reference.  It quickly became clear that the western area had quite a different history of settlement.  During the Middle Bronze Age particularly, it became clear that the settlement centre had shifted west during this time period.  However, a dense population of Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine sites was again observed (as in the Çarşamba areas), and evidence pointed to intensive land exploitation. 

Work in both areas continued in 2001, and two early prehistoric sites were discovered, both aceramic.  Another fascinating discovery was a system of ancient fields and cairns around the western hills, becoming particularly clear as satellite imagery was studied.  It appeared as though it had been created within a single period of construction.  Some stone foundations of structures were also found, though they remained difficult to date. 

The final season occurred in 2002, and was primarily devoted to studying and recording artefacts.  A variety of assemblages were studied in depth, including chipped and ground stone, Late Chalcolithic, Middle and Late Bronze Age, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine, and Selçuk and Ottoman period artefacts.  Animal bone material was looked at, and indicated that parts of the region had likely been used as a hunting camp during prehistoric times.  The assemblages often provided a sense of whether or not items had been produced locally, and if they had been influenced by other regions.  The collections also pointed to the way that urban communities had developed on the Konya plain, and in Anatolia at large. 


Anatolian Archaeology 1: 11-12; 2: 12; 3: 12-13; 4: 16; 5: 13-14; 6: 15; 7: 16; 8: 19

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Archaeology and Related Disciplines

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