Oylum Höyük Survey and Excavations

Location: near Oylum; Kilis Province

Years: 2002-2005

Director: Alan Greaves

Participants: Atilla Engin (2003), Özlem Erdem (2003), Susan Williams, Joanne Kenny, Sue Stallibrass, Victoria Cox, Gina Muskett, Andrew Wilson

Funding: BIAA, University of Liverpool, private sponsors

Website: http://www.liv.ac.uk/sacos/research/projects/oylum/index.htm


The Oylum Höyük project of the multi-period site that showed evidence of occupation between Neolithic and Hellenistic periods began in collaboration with Haceteppe and Ankara Universities, along with the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut.  Excavations showed that its stratigraphy stretched from the Chalcolithic to the Iron Age.  The red walls were immediately noticed as being an interesting feature.  A large mud-brick building was found on the mound’s summit, and Hellenistic coins nearby.  Initial goals were established for exploring the red walls, better understanding the stratigraphy, and recovering more of the building plan. 

In 2003 a variety of projects were undertaken.  Conservation and protection work was done on the mud-brick walls (which had been exposed in the previous section of excavation and slightly damaged).  The pottery recovered in the 2002 season (comprising over 20 crates) was classified, sorted, and analysed.  Some experimental archaeology was undertaken as team members attempted, with the advice of villagers, to reconstruct the mud-bricks used in the red walls.  A field survey of Classical period sites was continued in order to better put Oylum Höyük into its regional context.  144 sites, ranging from the Palaeolithic to the Medieval periods, had been found in 2000-2001.  Some of these were chosen for further study, and the sites of Karuca Kalesi, Goncadağ, and Ravanda Kalesi were visited; here GPS readings and photos were taken and surface sherds collected.  Previously unidentified sites, including Yeşiloba Köyü, Karacurun Köyü, Murat Höyük, and Alahan Köyü, were visited and recorded; inscriptions were also recorded. 

One of the main objectives of 2004 was to prepare publications on the previous seasons.  Beyond this, however, small-scale excavations were undertaken, during which a kiln found in 2002 was excavated completely.  A topographic survey was conducted on the mound and its immediate surroundings, and information about the current land-use was also recorded.  This season ten new fabrics were identified and classified, and sherds of collected pottery and small finds were drawn and photographed.  All four seasons of site plans were digitised, creating a single combined plan.  The Afrin Su Kemer aqueduct, surveyed in 2003, was researched further to understand its history and construction.  A GIS database of the Kilis Province was also prepared, which included not only archaeological sites but also hydrological and typographical information, as well as modern landscape features.

In July and August 2005 post-production research was undertaken, along with a short visit to the site itself.  Some earlier trenches had collapsed, revealing a pithos jar, which was then taken to the excavation house.  The Iron Age and Hellenistic pottery excavated previously was analysed, and much of it was drawn.  Animal bones and small finds continued to be catalogued and drawn.  Finally, the GIS database continued to be added to, which helped to synthesise results of work across the province and provide an aid to anyone interpreting the survey results.  Knowledge of the region’s diachronic settlement history was much better understood thanks to the work conducted at and around Oylum Höyük .


Anatolian Archaeology 8: 4; 9: 7-8; 10: 7-8; 11: 19


Özgen, E., Helwing, B., Engin, A., 2002: ‘The Oylum Höyük Regional Project: archaeological prospection 2000’ Araştırma Sonuçları Toplantısı 19: 217-29

Özgen, E., Helwing, B., Engin, A., Greaves, A.M., Erdem, Ö. 2002: ‘The Oylum Höyük 2002’ Kazı Sonuçları Toplantısı 25.2: 339-44

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