Euchaita/Avkat: Introduction

Avkat LocationThis collaborative research project in north-central Anatolia seeks to integrate a number of different approaches to studying the past, using recent technological advances to integrate disparate datasets into a cohesive framework of analysis. From the 1980s, there has been continued development of methodologies of archaeological field survey, as well as remote sensing techniques ranging from ground-penetrating radar to airborne radar systems and satellite imagery. However, the integration of these techniques into a unified project design has rarely been achieved and all too often they are bolted onto an existing project design. In part this is because of the technical difficulties of integrating datasets, but the development of GIS has now reached a point where such complex problems are more easily handled. At the same time, GIS has rarely been used to its full potential in archaeological research.

EuchaitaThe project seeks to integrate traditional archaeological survey work with other disciplines, including geomorphology and palynology, into a 100% digital project exploiting the full capacities of modern technology. The project will exploit the use of GIS to enhance our understanding of the past and incorporate large datasets both of a traditional archaeological as well as non-archaeological nature - large volumes of text, climatic and palynlogical data, and vegetational and geological classifications derived from multispectral satellite imagery. We will be using new approaches to surface survey which are changing the way in which survey work is carried out, including challenges to traditional concepts of sampling, the need to excavate, and the relationship of settlement to non-settlement areas. These need to be made relevant to the problems of understanding regional change over time, particularly with respect to settlement patterns, subsistence strategies and communication patterns. This project thus involves a challenging process of integrating a complex range of datasets into a unified approach to a region, while at the same time as fully exploiting GIS both to enhance this understanding of the past and to create a web-accessible site with full access to datasets for a broad range of constituencies.

The modern village of Beyözu: Quickbird satellite image

Major Aims of the Project

  • To create a material culture sequence from the Neolithic through the Ottoman periods for the region. At present, no such sequence exists, owing to the lack of any archaeological or paleo-environmental work in the area. Excavation of Euchaita and its dependent district will thus create the material cultural sequences which will become the reference standard for the region. This is crucial to the ceramic history of the Byzantine period, for example, for which the establishment of regional ceramic sequences is still in its infancy.
  • To document settlement patterns and, if possible, cemetery distribution in the region and to explain changes in site distribution.
  • To explore how changes in site distribution correlate with known political-administrative and military developments
  • To understand the role of Euchaita in the economic and social as well as administrative and religious life of the region through time (through excavation, geophysical and remote sensing survey, and through computer-modeling). Euchaita can be investigated both as a central place (within its own region) and a peripheral place (within, for example, the context of Hittite, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman provincial administrative structures).
  • To collect, collate, edit and interpret the epigraphic material from the region. 
  • To reconstruct the ancient and medieval environment through paleobotanical and geomorphological analyses.
  • To document the changes in the traditional modes of life in the region in more recent times.
  • To apply and further develop analytical information technologies (e.g., geographic information systems, relational databases, CAD programs, digital imagery, etc.).
  • To train undergraduate and graduate students in the theory and method of field archaeology and survey, paleoenvironmental techniques, regional social-economic studies and related specialist fields.


EuchaitaWhile a regional survey, with emphasis on the word ‘regional’, the project has an original historically-motivated focus in a small site at the modern settlement of Beyözü. This is probably the ancient site of Euchaita (later Avkat), and seems to have been occupied since prehistoric times – the modern village, which partially occupies the Roman lower city, is dominated by two hills, a bronze age site and what is currently taken to be the location of a Byzantine/Seljuk fortress. During the Roman period it seems to have been a fairly unimportant rural centre. From the third or fourth century it began to gain a reputation as the centre of the cult of St Theodore Tiro (‘the Recruit’), may have been walled in the early 6thcentury, and raised to the status of a bishopric by Anastasius before 518. From the seventh century, with the Arab Islamic conquest of the eastern Roman provinces and the retreat of the Roman – now Byzantine – frontier into Anatolia , Euchaita became a military base behind the frontier.

It remained a provincial centre, although not of major significance except for the cult of its saint, Theodore, until its conquest at the time of the Seljuk occupation of eastern Asia Minor in the later 11thcentury. Thereafter its importance dwindled, and though most of the Ottoman period it was abandoned, the only habitation being the village below the acropolis or fortress. Yet the district itself remained economically important and the history of the several villages in the region can be traced through the Ottoman archival documents right up to the later nineteenth century. This project offers the opportunity to trace the history of a single region across a period of more than two millennia, to elucidate its role in the ancient political landscape of the Hittite period as well as at later periods, and to show the effects of human activity in transforming the landscape, tracking shifting settlement and demographic patterns, and explaining transformations in land-use, agricultural and pastoral farming and urban-rural relationships.