2.0 Background

2.1 Archaeology, geography, culture

The site of Kilise Tepe is located at 33°33'E and 36°30'N, about 50km up the Göksu Valley from the coastal plain and the town of Silifke. The valley, narrowing to a gorge in places, is one of the natural routes through the Taurus mountains between the Mediterranean coast and the plateaux of the Anatolian interior. Indeed its potentially crucial position on this route, through all periods of history and prehistory, has been one of the major reasons behind the decision to excavate the site (Postgate 1998). For the Late Bronze Age in particular, hints of its geopolitical importance within the Hittite Empire became apparent when the Göksu valley was surveyed in the 1950s and 1960s, with fragments of libation arms (in Red Lustrous Wheel-made ware) found on the surface of the tepe (Postgate 1998, 128). The tepe itself is relatively small, measuring approximately 100 by 110m. Excavation has in places gone down to the bedrock, that is to say to the conglomerate terrace on which the site stands, and has shown that the earliest habitation dates to the Early Bronze II period. Occupation seems to be continuous throughout the Bronze Age thereafter, and into the Iron Age (although there may be a hiatus at some stage in the Early Iron Age). Following a lengthy break after the Middle Iron Age (750-650 BC), there are traces of Hellenistic occupation, and a far more substantial Byzantine presence (5th to 7th centuries), including the foundations of a large church.

In the Late Bronze Age levels, in which the RLWm pottery was found, the architectural remains uncovered so far are scrappy. Nonetheless, there are sufficient well-stratified deposits to piece together five separate phases, although the pottery is much the same throughout (phases summarised by Postgate 1998, 135). At present it is not possible to give an absolute date to the beginning of the LBA at the site, but it seems that it may have come to an end with the demise of the Hittite empire, dated to c. 1190 BC.

2.2 Geology

Whilst there is a reasonably large bibliography covering many parts of Turkey (Campbell 1971; Brinkmann 1976; Pinar-Erdem and Ilhan 1977), the geological information available for the area in question is of relatively low resolution. In addition the 1962 geological map of the Adana area is at the rather coarse scale of 1:500,000. The sampling and analysis of local clays, sands and rocks, as a part of the overall ceramic study, has provided some supplementary data. What is abundantly clear is that the geology of the Kilise Tepe area is overwhelmingly sedimentary (Map 1).

Map 1 - geology. Click for map key
Map 1 - Geology of the area around Kilise Tepe (scale 1:500,000)

The site lies in the Mut basin, composed predominantly of Neogene (Lower and Middle Miocene) marine sediments, including not only marls but also many calcareous clays suitable for pottery. There are also conglomerates and other terrigenous clastics, in many places forming hard caps over the softer Neogene sediments, thereby slowing the latter's erosion. Much of the surrounding pre-Miocene geology is sedimentary too, composed of carbonates such as limestones and dolomites. Metamorphic and igneous deposits are rare, the only apparent exception being a very short, narrow ribbon of serpentinite and volcanic rock outcrops, just 10km up the Kurtsuyu valley that stretches east from near the site. These outcrops were visited and sampled in the course of fieldwork, and it was noted that they are located close to and above the Kurtsuyu river. Their exposed position means that they could erode into the river and be subsequently transported downstream towards the confluence with the Göksu river and the site of Kilise Tepe. No other igneous or metamorphic rocks appear to have been documented in the immediate environs of Kilise Tepe, neither have any been observed in the course of the fieldwork or in the analysis of the clay, sand and rock samples. Deposits of low-grade metamorphic rocks do exist some distance to the north-east in the Bolgar Dag, and to the south-west in the area of Alanya, Anamur and Aydincik (see Map 2).

Map 2 - metamorphic rock distribution
Map 2 - Distribution of metamorphic rocks in Turkey (after Brinkmann 1976)


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Last updated: Tue Oct 24 2000