The Avkat Region survey offers opportunities for an interdisciplinary and international research project, which will advance very considerably our knowledge and understanding of the history of the site and the area around it, of the society and economy of the ancient (Hittite and pre-Hellenistic), Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Seljuk/Ottoman periods and also permit the application of modern survey, mapping and digital modelling techniques on a large scale, in ways which will benefit archaeological and historical research as well as the earth and geographical sciences.
The methods of investigation for the project have been chosen to answer specific questions about the project area:
- How were settlement and land use patterns structured and altered over the course of history?
- What is the relationship between the human and environmental history?
- What are the possible ways in which the region interacted or communicated with other nearby centers such as Amasya, Çorum, and Ortaköy?
Using the village of Avkat (which has evidence for Palaeolithic, Bronze Age, Late Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman occupation), the project will explore these questions, using a combined set of methods that will provide data necessary to address these questions.
Euchaita/Avkat: Intensive Survey
One of the questions to be addressed is the means by which land use and settlement patterns changed through time. To answer this question, detailed data relating to artifactual patternings in the landscape is important – especially if one is to understand and delineate between habitational and special-purpose features in the landscape. Intensive survey is best suited for obtaining this data.
Assuming that Avkat was a significant place of settlement for a number of key chronological periods, the area around the village of Avkat will be intensively surveyed in its entirety for a distance of 8-hours walking distance in all directions. Using this cut-off point will include all areas which could conceivably be reached by an inhabitant of Avkat within 1-day’s walking, thereby forming a catchment that includes all areas notionally under the domain of that settlement. This area has been determined through the construction of an anisotropic costs surface in GIS, which, once factoring topographic and logistical constraints, calculated the distance to Avkat in terms of walking time for all points in the AOI. Seventy-five percent of the intensive survey’s activity will consist of this activity, with an eventual coverage of 30 square kilometers.
In addition to the 1-day catchment, the intensive survey will investigate within a 2-day catchment areas that share similar geographical characteristics with Avkat: specifically, places that exhibit slopes between 10 and 45 degrees, and are located near large tracts of arable land. The purpose for this sample is to test the hypothesis that human habitation throughout time was concentrated in minimally arable land in order to maximize the agricultural capacity of the region. Such a hypothesis is extracted from the current settlement pattern in the region, as well as the historical settlement pattern evidenced by the village of Avkat. Twenty-five percent of the intensive survey’s activity will consist of this activity, with an eventual coverage of 10 square kilometers, split between areas that exhibit strong correlations with the Avkat environment (medium-excessive slope), and those areas that are least correlated (little to no slope).
Euchaita/Avkat: Extensive Survey
It is assumed that Avkat will not be the only settlement in the region, nor will features important to understanding the regional history be found only within the intensive survey area. In this case, extensive survey will be used to identify significant features in the wider AOI. While not effective in locating small ephemeral features, extensive survey is still an effective method for identifying prominent features which will have a direct effect upon understanding settlement patterns, land use, and the conceptual landscape of various periods. Extensive survey will occur in areas not targeted for intensive investigation, thereby ensuring total coverage of this region via some method of reconnaissance. This work allows for an understanding of more remote areas of the valley. It is economical in resources, since many smaller features will be recorded immediately. Identified features – densities of artifacts, architectural remains, inscriptions, spolia, etc. will be given feature numbers and the appropriate standard forms were completed. Larger features will be identified for revisiting by a larger team. On many occasions, the extensive team will also be able to work closely with the geomorphology and paleoenvironmental teams, either on initial or subsequent visits.
John Haldon, Princeton University, NJ
Hugh Elton, Trent University, Canada
Jim Newhard, College of Charleston, SC