Pınarbaşı Excavations

Location: Pınarbaşı; Konya Province

Years: 1994-1995, 2003-2005

Director: Douglas Baird, Mehmet Doğan

Participants: Trevor Watkins

Government Representatives: Cengiz Topal (1995, 2004)

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


Pınarbaşı was tentatively identified as being an important site by David French in the 1970s, and it was revisited in 1993 during the BIAA’s Çatalhöyük regional survey.  Between 23 August to 14 September 1994 a fuller investigation was aimed at specifically understanding how deep the stratigraphy went on the site and collecting cultural assemblages and botanical and zoological samples.  The site comprised a few rock-shelters occupied during the late Epi-Palaeolithic.  Two areas were excavated: one of the rock-shelters, and an open area on a peninsula in the marshes.  In the former area, stratigraphy reached from around 6,000BC to before 8,000BC, with the latest levels dating back to the Çatalhöyük period.  In the latter area, a wide assemblage of pottery was discovered, as were burials; remains and stratigraphy pointed to Early Bronze Age and Epi-Paleolithic occupation.

In September 1995 a short season of excavation was conducted by Karaman Museum in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh.  The sounding in the rock-shelter was continued and material from late Neolithic, and maybe earlier, occupations was discovered.  All the collected samples were put through the process of flotation and wet-sieving for maximum recovery of chipped stone flakes and other things.  Tools and pottery were quite rare at the site.  Dozens of kilograms of botanical and zoological material were collected and examined. 

Work began again in 2003, this time as a joint project involving the University of Liverpool and the Karaman Museum.  The site’s importance in depicting the final hunter-gatherer phases and earliest cultivator and herding communities (and the transition between the two) was recognised, and largely determined the season’s aims. The research aimed to expose enough of the ninth millennium site to understand whether the community at that stage was mobile or sedentary, as well as to recover faunal and floral samples that showed the relationship of the community to the environment.  The work was successful in partially revealing structures from the ninth millennium, and recovering very large samples of carbonised plants.  An assemblage of chipped stone tools was also found, and seventh millennium occupation levels revealed ovens and fire pits, pointing to food preparation, and also yielded remains of domestic sheep.  The remains, taken together, pointed to the likelihood of the site being a camp for hunters and herders.  The Early Bronze Age settlement was one of the most extensive, yielding structures, graves, and pottery. 

The 2004 season had similar objectives.  In the rock shelter area, there were some Epi-Paleolithic limestone debris and sediment-rich deposits, some naturally derived and others seeming to relate to human activity in the vicinity.  Quantities of carbonised material and fauna were found here and collected for environmental analysis.  The excavation also found a microlithic assemblage that pointed to an occupation period before the ninth millennium BC.  More ninth millennium burials and carbonised plant and faunal remains were found.  More Early Bronze Age and medieval burials were discovered this year. 

August and September 2005 was spent at the Karaman Museum, doing post-excavation work and studying the material. 350 30-litre sacks were passed through flotation and water-sieving.  A display was also created for the Museum.  Analysis of the material led to a number of conclusions.  Human remains studies showed that some of the site’s former inhabitants used their teeth as tools, and that adult males were particularly muscular.  Large numbers of fish bones pointed to extensive fishing at the local lake.  The tools and objects relating to production indicated that the community was sedentarising, though the palaeo-botanical remains showed that they also remained hunter-gatherers.  The work done at Pınarbaşı and the conclusions reached make a valuable contribution to the larger discussion on sedentism in central Anatolia and the factors that lay behind this. 


Anatolian Studies 44: 13-15; 45: 9-13

Anatolian Archaeology 1: 8-11; 9: 2-4; 10: 2-3; 11: 12-13

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Archaeology and Related Disciplines
Combined Projects

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