Paphlagonia Regional Survey

Location: Çankırı and Karabük Provinces

Years: 1997-2001

Director: Roger Matthews

Government Representatives: Cevdet Sevinç (1997), Gülay Aslan (1998), Zehra Taşkıran (1999), Gülcan Demir (2000), Nilgün Sinan (2001)


Paphlagonia is the name of the area modernly called Çankırı, north of Ankara.  In 1997 a new project was initiated with the intent of better understanding the archaeology, geography, and history of this region.

For four weeks in the summer of 1997 a selected area (comprising Çankırı Province’s north and west sub-provinces) was explored for evidence of human settlement from prehistory to the present.  A small team undertook a regional survey, visiting a total of 89 sites, most of which had been brought to their attention by local sources and which were previously unknown in academic circles.  For each site they recorded information, photographed and drew important features, and collected artefacts as appropriate.  Though early prehistory was poorly represented, Bronze Age material was collected from 13 sites and Iron Age pottery was collected from eight.  Roman and Byzantine sites were clearly the best represented, with material from the latter recovered from 31 sites, and from the former at 26.  There was very little evidence found for Post-Byzantine settlements.

In August and September 1998 fieldwork continued in Paphlagonia, this time covering all of Çankırı Province (Merkez, Kızılırmak, Eldivan, Yapraklı, Korgun, Şabanözü, Bayramören, and Atkaracalar) and extending into the eastern part of Karabük Province (Eskipazar and Ovacık).  Over six weeks the team visited 127 sites, bringing the total number of archaeological or historical sites surveyed during both seasons to 216.  Though signs of early prehistoric settlement remained scant, the Early and Late Bronze Ages again yielded much material.  Some Iron Age burial tumuli were noted, and there was a clear increase in settlements at the beginning of the Roman period.  Settlement continued into Byzantine times especially in the Eskipazar region.  Some fortified hilltop sites likely constructed around 200 or 100BC were found, with evidence that they were used through the seventh to ninth centuries AD.

In 1999 geological and geomorphological research was carried out together with scholars from METU.  Turkish state demographic statistics were used in combination with geological and topographical maps to try to understand how the size and location of settlements (both ancient and modern) compared to their natural resources, such as arable land and water.  A project was also begun with the aim of reconstructing Paphlagonia’s climate and environment in antiquity, with research conducted on six small lakes, where they collected information and a deep sediment core.  They also recognised that the distribution of natural resources (particularly flint and obsidian) may have played a role in determining settlements.  A small Romano-Byzantine site was surveyed intensively and sherds were collected.

In 2000 the team hoped to better understand whether any early prehistoric settlements existed in Paphlagonia, whether Late Bronze Age sites existed independently, if signs of Iron Age settlement apart from tumuli existed, and how the Roman and early Byzantine settlement began and continued.  It was decided to undertake an intensive survey of six sites at Çivi, Ilgaz, Eldivan, Dumanlı, Salur, İnceboğaz. Methodologies were devised that would allow for both quick and thorough surveyal and sherd collection.  Material was collected, drawn and/or photographed, and submitted to Çankırı Museum.  They found some evidence for the mid-Palaeolithic period in the course of their fieldwork, but no upper-Palaeolithic or Neolithic material.  There was a steady spread of Early Bronze Age sites, but no small Late Bronze Age sites.  More Iron Age tumuli were found, and some Phrygian settlements.  It appeared that the Roman and Early Byzantine settlements expanded and flourished most during the Pax Romana.

The final season occurred between 9 July and 16 August 2001.  Geomorphological research was continued, with short surveys being conducted at the six sites from the previous season to gain insight into the basic geology and geomorphological processes of each.  Four more subsections were selected for intensive survey: Dağtarla, Çerkeş, Kızılırmak, and Mart.  New sites were found in most of these areas, and the results of these studies were merged with the results of the previous season to produce a fuller picture of the region’s history and features.  Epigraphic research included a study of any unpublished Greek inscriptions found in the region.  One week was spent on Ottoman research, where more recent village histories were elucidated as team members spoke with older village inhabitants.

In 2002 time was spent conducting museum study and preparing final reports for the research conducted throughout the course of this five-year project.


Anatolian Archaeology 3: 20-21; 4: 21-22; 5: 16-18; 6: 19-20; 7: 20-21;


Matthews, R., Glatz, C. 2009: At Empires’ Edge. Project Paphlagonia: Regional Survey in North‐Central Turkey. BIAA Monograph 44

Belongs to;
Archaeology and Related Disciplines

View other research