What's new with the fieldwork in Turkey?
In 19931994 extensive surveys of the regions were completed. Now more than two hundred and fifty archaeological sites have been located in a region where fewer than forty were known before. Several intensive surveys have now also been completed: one directly around Domuztepe by James Snead, several transects along natural lines of communication by Lynn Swartz, and a resource survey by Çigdem Eissenstat. Last season we were able to have a Dutch paleobotanical team come and core in our area. We await their results because we hope to gain an overview of environmental regional change.
Since 1995 we have been focusing on the excavations at Domuztepe. When our project started in 1993, most maps of the Halaf period (sixth millennium bce) distribution did not extend as far north or west as the Kahramanmaras¸ region, and sites of the Halaf period were generally thought to be small villages. At around 20 ha, Domuztepe is unique for its large size and because most of the site was never resettled after its abandonment seven thousand years ago.
Our long-term results include information on the organization of space and the variety of architectural forms in a large Halaf center. New information on funerary practices has also been found at Domuztepe. Since 1997, we have been excavating a large shallow depression (called the death pit), which contains a mass burial (30 skulls at last count). Here, human and animal bone is packed in close proximity along with sherds and rare artifacts. Areas of the deposit were covered with a dense, ashy coating that spilled out of the boundaries of the pit. Dr. SueEllen Gauld of Santa Monica College and Jennifer Bybee, a graduate student at UCLA, have been working on the human bone that were permitted to be exported from Turkey.
Obsidian is common at the site. Some sourcing has been done on about 30 samples of obsidian from Domuztepe. These results show that obsidian from both the eastern (around Lake Van) and western (in Cappadocia) sources were coming to the site. There is also evidence of obsidian from one of the well-known Georgian sources. Domuztepe may have been a kind of redistribution center for Anatolian obsidian on its way to Mesopotamia. In addition to tools, a number of obsidian artifacts including vessels, beads, and pendants were found at Domuztepe. Preliminary analysis of the obsidian debitage and the unfinished state of some of the items suggest that they were also produced there.
In 1999 we had reached a total of 35 seals discovered in every excavated context as well as on the surface of the site. A number of fragmentary sealings were discovered, demonstrating that the seals were used to mark goods and commodities.
In 2000 we also had an intensive study season. Plans for next year call for a geophysical survey on the site. The work may help identify pottery kilns or other burned areas on the large mound and aid in formulating another five-year plan.
Elizabeth Carter is a Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures