NEWS: Black Sea Connections and Settlement Continuity (Klazomenai 2019-2021)

Speaking at the annual Archaeology Symposium, held in Denizli this year, Prof. Yaşar Ersoy presented a summary of the latest excavation and artefact studies from his on-going excavations at the Ionian city of Klazomenai. As with many excavation sites across Turkey, activities were largely limited to depot work by the COVID pandemic. In 2020 Prof. Ersoy was able to conduct excavations in only one area – the flat fields on the shore immediately opposite Karatina Island known by the excavators as ‘FGT’ – where two important new discoveries were made form the Archaic and Classical periods.


The first major discovery from the new FGT area in 2019-2021 was the proof that the Classical period city was built on a rectilinear plan of straight streets and square houses dating to 500-350 BC. This planned level was superimposed over two earlier archaic layers, dating to 575-500 BC, that displayed no clear settlement plan. Here an Archaic period house was found, inside of which was a terracotta cylinder roll seal with an image of a sphinx and, in a domestic settlement level, Athenian Black Figure and Red Figure pottery dating to 550-520 and fragments of Little Masters alongside Ionian-produced Fikellura pottery, Ionian Kylikes and Orientalising pottery. From the late Archaic level in area FGT (575-550 BC) comes the exciting discovery of a subterranean storage silo of a type known from three examples at Beresan and elsewhere in the Black Sea, such as Pantikapaion.  This pit is dated to 575-560 BC. Although not the origin of the Black Sea region’s famous Archaic period sunken houses, that has become the holy grail of Ionian colonisation studies, this find does nevertheless provide evidence for Ionian/Pontic interaction in regard to the design and use of certain elements of domestic architecture.

The second major discovery from the 2019-2021 field and study seasons has been the establishment of a continuous chronology that connects the adjacent prehistoric site of Liman Tepe with Klazomenai. Starting in the Chalcolithic period, the final period on the höyük (settlement mound) at Liman Tepe ends with a series of buildings of the Early Iron Age – the C11th BC Geometric period. The discovery in FGT of Early Iron Age houses of the second quarter of the C11th BC and the end of the C10th BC dates the settlement here to c. 1070/50 – 900 BC. This adds to the growing body of evidence from sites across Ionia for settlement continuity at sites such as Phokaia. From the second quarter of the C6th BC comes evidence for a foundation ritual under the wall of a building – a tradition known from Geometric period – suggests that there may also have been cult continuity at the Liman Tepe/Klazomenai settlement, as has been suggested for sites such as the Athenatempel site at Miletos.

Reconstructed olive oil production workshop and storage unit at Klazomenai

Although regrettable, the enforced study seasons that the pandemic required have evidently resulted in some important advances and the Klazomenai team continue to be at the forefront of research in Ionian archaeology.


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