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The Neolithic in the eastern Marmara
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The Neolithic in the eastern Marmara: two examples of settlement*
Jacob Roodenberg, Songül Alpaslan-Roodenberg
Since 1987 archaeological research has been carried out at Ilıpınar, an old farming village east of the Sea of Marmara, which was founded eight thousands years ago. This hüyük is situated in an alluvial plain west of Lake Iznik. The second mound of interest is Menteșe, situated in the Yenișehir plain, which offered a similar environmental setting during its occupation. Soundings revealed that Menteșe was already occupied by the middle of the seventh millennium, which makes it the oldest settlement so far in Northwest Anatolia. A third mound, called Hacılartepe, was investigated because of its presumed links with Ilıpınar due to their proximity to one another. Hacılartepe turned out to have been inhabited during the Early Bronze Age (Fig 1). Since 2006 new investigations have begun at Barcın hüyük (formerly called Yenișehir II), also situated in the Yenișehir plain. All of these field activities fall under a long standing project called “Early farming communities in the Eastern Marmara Region” which is run under the auspices of the Netherlands Institute for the Near East at Leiden and its annex, the Netherlands Institute at Istanbul.
Fig. 1. Map of the Iznik-Yenișehir region with the investigated sites of Ilıpınar, Hacılartepe and Menteșe. Barcın hüyük is under excavation since 2005.
Ilıpınar: a general picture
The stratigraphy and architecture of Ilıpınar X to VII, which comes almost exclusively from the investigations in the ‘big square’ (W12/13 and X12/13; Fig. 2), can be summarized as follows: In its initial stage the people had settled close by the spring. The settlement, which was confined at its north and east sides by a natural water course, consisted of single-spaced, ca 30 sq meters large houses, which were built with mud slab walls or post-walls lined with mortar. Central posts supported reed-covered saddle roofs. In the rarely preserved interiors arrangements were mud floors, sometimes laid with wooden planking as well as bins and hearths, while ovens were occasionally found in courtyards. Except for its steady growth in volume, the settlement did not alter in many aspects during its first three centuries of its existence. The radial pattern of the initial village plan remained oriented to the spring as its focal point, and the buildings themselves also did not change. Although slab building fell into disuse, houses kept consistent dimensions, and were repeatedly rebuilt on the same parcels of land suggesting the transference of family property through time.
Fig. 2. Example of initial settlement dwellings: contours of dwellings marked by rows of postholes.
We have witnessed its steady growth in population and volume due to a prosperous economy which was based on plant cultivation and animal husbandry. The boundary buildings: an alignment of two-storey buildings that probably surrounded the village during phase VI. because almost all of the VI buildings we excavated were destroyed in a huge conflagration. Due to the larger application possibilities of building with mud-brick. Fourteen of these buildings were entirely excavated. in particular with the application of moulded mud-bricks as the exclusive building material for the village houses. 3. The interval stretching from this desertion until the site was reoccupied in the Late Chalcolithic period lasted in absolute Radiocarbon years from 5400 to 3600 cal. Not only did the settlement site remain nearly unoccupied.www. this site’s habitation had come to an end with the abandonment of the entire village. Fig. We believe that during the subsequent VA period. BC) occasionally disturbed by unspecified incidents causing a temporary interruption of daily routine or even abandonment. BC respectively.nino-leiden. the mobile culture displays a gradual development. apparently once again due to a devastating fire. which lasted less than a century. The causes of the final desertion of the site after an attempt at seasonal residence for the benefit of the cultivation of the surrounding fields. This time span coincides with a period that can be best described as the dark age in the prehistory of Northwest Anatolia. The sticks mark the imprints of posts that supported the upper storey.nl The Neolithic in the eastern Marmara Page 2 of 7 Fig. but even the remaining dwellings – mere semi-subterranean shelters dug in the SW flank of the mound – were not adapted to yearround habitation (Fig. Ground floor of burnt down boundary building H33. house plans again are re-organized. which is well illustrated in the pottery sequence of the phases X to VII. Afterwards. that more radical changes are perceptible in the material culture. Starting in phase VI. Analogous to the architecture. The shift from VI to VA architecture probably went hand in hand with a break in the occupation. 6000-5400 cal. the new era shows a different approach to settlement construction. This includes a shift in the pottery assemblage and the occurrence of a type of standing female figurines known from the Early Neolithic in the Balkans. 5). during phase VA. while the two-storey concept seems to have been abandoned. is beyond our comprehension. It is only when another construction mode is introduced by phase VI and especially phase VA around 5700 and 5600 cal. 4. . Altogether the settlement of Ilıpınar exhibits a succession of six centuries of farming history (ca. this time from small single-rooms to larger and more compartmented ones. the village receives a totally different outlook in its rather small aligned mud-brick houses. a totally different outlook. which were often two-storeys high. BC.
nl The Neolithic in the eastern Marmara Page 3 of 7 Fig. these huts were built on the ruins of the abandoned village of Ilıpınar VA. .nino-leiden. The latter two were frequently full of charred grain and other cultivated plant seeds. grinding installation. These clusters contained a standard set of items – an oven. 5. others on the surface and delineated by walls of wicker work (no 3). Six object clusters – some dug half a meter into the ground and lined with earthen benches (no 1 and 4).www. Interpreted as seasonal dwellings. bins and pottery vessels.
7).brick varieties were unknown in the contemporary occupation levels of Ilıpınar (phases IX and X). There was half of a building with wattle-anddaub walls (Fig. 6). and traces of open fire (Fig. The latter comprises a level devoid of architectural remains but containing pottery of the Early Chalcolithic age that equals Ilıpınar phase V A (ca. but it is probable given the depth of the burial pits 60 and 80 cm below the floor. Next to the woman stood a ceramic box with a handle and four feet (Fig. and a genuine mud-brick wall in section. is situated in the plain of Yenișehir which is separated from Iznik Lake by a 600 m high mountain ridge. According to radiocarbon samples these dwellings can be dated to 6200-6100 cal. 5500 cal. of which the wattle-and-daub and mud. 8. . Young woman buried below the floor of the building in Fig. Fig. which means it is one or two centuries before the foundation of the Ilıpınar village. demonstrates that Menteșe was established nearly half a millennium before the foundation of Ilıpınar.5 m high and ca. another building whose walls were made of mud-slabs. 150 m in diameter. grinding stones. The lower levels of Menteșe revealed more building remains of the mud-slab type alternating with rubble layers and trodden surfaces – probably courtyards of nearby dwellings covered with bone and stone tools. 6. the burials of a young woman and a child were found. Layers of burnt rubble alternate with trodden surfaces. The age of these layers.nl The Neolithic in the eastern Marmara Page 4 of 7 Menteșe Soundings at Menteșe. 7. In the past. This box is decorated with white geometrical engravings that prove that the Fikirtepe culture of northwest Anatolia occurred well before Ilıpınar was founded. 6400 cal. environmental conditions were similar to Ilıpınar because Menteșe was located near an ancient lake shore. The dark layers of this section represent ‘basal Menteșe’. Yet the layout and size of the buildings resemble it: rectangular single-space dwellings surrounded by courtyards. Underneath a dwelling floor. 8). Fig. 4. The inventories of the occupation levels also show striking affinities between both settlements.www. The mound. were started to in order to control results from Ilıpınar and to add evidence for early sedentarisation in the eastern Marmara region. Partly cleared Neolithic building plan with walls made of wattle and daub. The significance of this observation is the simultaneous occurrence of different modes of construction. BC. 6. dated to ca. From this level some burial pits had been dug down destroying a level with buildings. Disturbances are from burials dug from Early Chalcolithic levels. Her left arm rested on a ceramic box with geometric engravings in Fikirtepe style. We will deal here with the evidence from the initial settlement to the Early Chalcolithic period. The mound displays occupational remains from the 7th millennium to the Byzantine period. It cannot be proven that they belonged to the above building.nino-leiden. the second site in our research plan. Fig. BC. BC).
The little information that we possess from the Balkans reveals different types of burials. . They were considered as primary burials since the bones were still articulated. 9. or in the built-over area. all coming from a burial ground which belonged to the earliest settlement phases X and IX (Fig. As far as burying the dead is concerned. the adherence to one or the other is not unequivocal. They were buried separately in single graves except in one case at Ilıpınar where the burial of a woman included the bones of a newborn baby. the youngest in the middle occupation levels – altogether 20 skeletons. BC. The Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic communities buried their dead in the village ground. from the Middle Neolithic to the end of the Early Chalcolithic. which contrasts with the poor records of the Early Neolithic period in the Balkans. Fig. The earliest human remains of Menteșe were found at basal Menteșe. In this respect the eastern Marmara region fully represents the Anatolian tradition. Burials in the right half of the ‘Big Square’ belonging to Ilıpınar X and IX. whereas for the entire eastern Balkans the Neolithic period counts hardly more than that amount. The nearly 50 individuals from Ilıpınar. who were collected in the same Neolithic burial ground.www. as in the case of Ilıpınar. As opposed to the Balkans. 9). under building floors as well as in open spaces. as shown at the basal layers of Menteșe. burying members of the community in the houses where they probably had lived (Çatal Höyük) or in specially arranged buildings (Çayönü) was common practice in central Anatolia and further Southeast. The time range of these burials is almost one thousand years running from the mid 7th millennium to the mid 6th millennium i. Within the framework of early farming development the Marmara region is often referred to as a zone of transition between Anatolia and the eastern Balkans. The human remains collected from Ilıpınar and Menteșe constitute a valuable sample in the early sedentary population of Anatolia.e. This may be at the edge. while Ilıpınar is represented by 48 individuals.nino-leiden. The amount of infants and children is very high.e. Remarkable is the frequency of burial discoveries in Anatolian settlements of the 7th and 6th millennium cal. presumably belonged to the families of the first settlers.nl The Neolithic in the eastern Marmara Page 5 of 7 Burying the dead in the eastern Marmara region With reference to the title of this paragraph. The Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic levels of Ilıpınar and Menteșe together yielded nearly 70 burials with human remains. The relative abundance of inhumations on the eastern Marmara side enables both the anthropologist as well the archaeologist to collect data that are usually missing or easily overlooked. i. it is our axiom that Ilıpınar and Menteșe are representative for burial practices in the eastern Mamara region.
10. 11. quite a few women (nearly half of the females of Ilıpınar and one from basal Menteșe) had grooves at the back of their front teeth which were probably the effect of holding fibres in their mouths during the process of weaving. there was a tendency to bury adult males and females on their right sides in a south-north orientation. Women with bad dental health and skeletal disorders were presumably physically unable to do such work. Osteoarthritis was a general health problem. In addition.nl The Neolithic in the eastern Marmara Page 6 of 7 Fig. a diet principally based on cereals may have led to iron deficiency. These grooves were never found on male teeth indicating that this activity was a women’s job. as it could be expected. Funeral gifts such as pottery vessels or personal belongings including necklaces of stone beads and pendants occasionally accompanied the deceased. Among the prehistoric villagers osteoarthritis and anaemia were common diseases. from which we conclude that they were tightly wrapped up before rigor mortis had occurred (Fig. was almost equal for both sexes – between 23 and 43 years. Indeed. Ilıpınar X. In some cases caries was associated with severe abscess cavities. Life expectancy of adults. Among them a middle aged female from Ilıpınar struck with a severe joint disease. and in a few cases laid with wooden planks on the bottom suggesting that the dead had been laid to rest on some sort of bier. Child mortality was high. Anaemia caused by iron deficiency was particularly frequent among the children and adult females from Ilıpınar. Her mobility would have been so limited at the end of her life that she had to be buried in a half sitting position (Fig. Due to coarse food and abrasive residual from grinding tools their teeth showed strong wear. a disorder caused by hard labour and increasing age. Some were even laid in a strongly flexed position. who were found in oval grave pits. At Ilıpınar this illness had struck both sexes almost equally. 11). as could be expected. A few cases of arthritic changes were noticed. who were primarily females. As for Ilıpınar. 10). Woman buried in a half sitting position.nino-leiden. twining and basketry making. Two pendants of pierced mussel shell accompany a female adult in a burial of Ilıpınar X. Food preparation methods play a role in the frequency of caries and dental attrition. The contracted position was common practice for adults and children. while at Menteșe especially males had suffered from it. Dental caries occurred from early childhood to old ages. especially the death rate of newborn babies. the average stature of females and males was 155 and 169 cm respectively. The people from both settlements constituted no exception to the bad dental health which is a characteristic for prehistoric populations.www. . Fig. and therefore these grooves were not observed on individuals of this category. Adult graves were between 60 and 90cm deep.
J. Bașgelen. 2006 – Death in Neolithic Ilıpınar. R. SUBARTU V. L. Istanbul 1999). M. Wright. The basal occupation layers at Menteșe.. Mainz am Rhein. J.nino-leiden. PIHANS vol. All drawings by Ben Claasz Coockson. N.000 to 4. Karul. Thissen. Roodenberg.). Matthews. Turnhout . Z. 2000 – The Early Prehistory of Mesopotamia – 500. C. 47-57. Brill. . 2003. Gatsov and H. S. L. In: The Ilıpınar Excavations II.. J. Roodenberg.). Jacobs. Lichter. Brepols.H. Eres. XCIII. Thissen (eds. Vol.www. 2000 – Ancient Building Technology. G. XCIII. 1987-91. ZAKS-Monographs 5. 2001 – The Pottery of Ilıpınar.. LXXII. Band 15. Parzinger. Özdo˘ an und H. Leiden. Forschungsgeschichte. Leiden.. & C. 2003 – Early settlement in the plain of Yenișehir (NW Anatolia). 2001 – The Ilıpınar Excavations II.). Phases X to VA. Archäologie in Eurasien. Mainz am Rhein.nl The Neolithic in the eastern Marmara Page 7 of 7 Literature Alpaslan-Roodenberg. PIHANS vol. Von Zabern. In: I.R. Five seasons of fieldwork in NW Anatolia. ANATOLICA XXIX. Aegean – Marmara – Black Sea: present state of research of the Early Neolithic. A. van As. Schwarzenberg (eds. * Manuscript prepared for the revised edition of M. g Stratigraphie und Architektur. Von Zabern. M.500 BC.. Wijnen. Band 1. Leiden. Özdogan and N. Einführung. 2003 – g Asa˘ ı Pınar I. Istanbul. 2001 – Untersuchungen zu den Bestattungssitten des südosteuropäischen Neolithikums und Chalcolithikums. (ed.L. 3-154. 1995 – The Ilıpınar Excavations I. Roodenberg. PIHANS vol.. Studien im Thrakien-Marmara-Raum.J. 1: historical background.-H. Neolithic in Turkey (Arkeoloji ve Sanat Yayınları.. J.
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