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  • Introduction
  • Aims of Excavation
  • Results of Excavation
    1.Confirmation of Geomagnetics
    2.Understanding Ground Penetrating Radar
    3.Evidence for Destruction
    4.Potential of Dendrochronology
    5.Potential of Micromorphology

  • Introduction
    This page is only concerned with test excavations conducted before 1999. More recent work has greatly increased our understanding of many aspects of the site. In particular, it is now understood that very many, if not all, of the architectural and urban characteristics at Kerkenes have Anatolian roots. The following sections are, therefore, outdated but they have been retained because they reflect the progress in our understanding of the site as well as the development of the research design of the Kerkenes Project. The results of later clearance and excavation can be found in the annual reports and the Kerkenes News. (June 2004)

    Excavation of test trenches in 1996 and 1998 was carried out in collaboration with Musa Özcan, Director of the Yozgat Museum.
    In 1996 some of the test trenches that had been excavated by E. F. Schmidt in 1927 were cleaned out. Trenches along the western side of the city and which appeared to be free of later levels were selected (numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 and 11) (Schmidt, 1929). By beginning in this way it was possible to obtain an understanding of the nature of the archaeological and geomorphological deposits with the minimum of disturbance. Cleaning the earlier trenches also enabled us to familiarise the workmen with the basic requirements of excavation.
    We then excavated a number of new test trenches (TT15-19 following on from Schmidt’s numbering) which were each carefully sited to answer particular problems and to test hypotheses. The approach was to maximise the amount of information recovered with as little disturbance to the site as possible. Trenches were excavated in several parts of the site, all but one where geomagnetic maps had raised questions.
    In 1998 two more test trenches, TT20-21, were excavated.
    At the end of the excavations new courses of stone were added to the wall tops with broken glass between the ancient and modern work, strips of plastic were laid along the bases and up the sides of the trenches and the earth was put back. In this way, and following the precedent set at Bogazkale, the lines of the buildings are made visible while the original structures and the sides of the trenches are preserved.

  • Aims of Excavation
    The aims of the 1996 excavations were:
    To help understand the geomagnetic maps made in earlier seasons.
    To obtain excavated profiles in order to test the applicability of Ground Penetrating Radar to future research design at Kerkenes.
    To test the hypotheses that the site was short lived and was destroyed by fire.
    To obtain samples for dendrochronology so as to confirm the proposed date of construction.
    To obtain samples for micromorphological study in order to determine the function of particular surfaces and their associated structures.
    To examine particular architectural problems.
    The aims of the 1998 excavations were
    To solve problems of interpretation that had arisen from the excavation of TT15.
    To preempt illicit disturbance.

  • Results of Excavation
    1. Confirmation of Geomagnetics
    Test excavations showed that the geomagnetic maps were highly accurate. The results have greatly helped in the interpretation of existing maps, and in the formulation of research design for further seasons of geophysical survey. Large area geomagnetic survey at Kerkenes will provide an exceptionally clear and almost complete city plan.
    Detailed comparison of geomagnetic maps and excavated structures is continuing. It has become clear that the geomagnetic maps contain more information than we have heretofore been able to extract from them and that much is to be gained by careful comparison of geomagnetic maps and balloon photographs with features visible on the ground. Exactly what the geomagnetic maps show is now better understood, allowing for greater confidence in their interpretation; but the reasons for the strength and weakness of particular signals, the relationship between signal strength and burning, and for a constant north-south discrepancy between the position of buildings on the maps and their actual position on the ground are all matters for future research. Another area for experiment is geophysical determination of differing surface material, especially identification of stone paving and burnt clay floors.

    2. Understanding Ground Penetrating Radar
    GPR was tested against the excavated profiles while the trenches were still open. Despite great effort and considerable ingenuity the results were disappointing. Theoretically GPR has great potential at Kerkenes and, conversely, the site ought to aid the development of GPR interpretation. The reasons for the poor results are not at all clear.

    3. Evidence for Destruction
    The intensity and uniformity of the burning in all areas that have been investigated confirms that the city was deliberately put to the torch.

    4. Potential of Dendrochronology
    The catastrophic fire that destroyed the city was of such intensity that beams and timbers used in the construction of buildings had burnt completely away. Pieces of charcoal that were recovered did not have sufficient annual growth rings for dating. The potential for confirming the date of Kerkenes through dendrochronology remains extremely high and the increased understanding of the geomagnetic images will make it easier to pinpoint potential locations for test trenches where less intense burning might yield charred beams.

    5. Potential of Micromorphology
    Samples for micromorphological study were taken by Wendy Matthews. The immediate aim was to see whether the archaeological deposits, soils and geology at Kerkenes are such that this relatively new technique will be of help in answering questions relating to the sorts of activities that went on in particular types of buildings and open areas. The results have enabled us to evaluate the potential of the techniques for future research at Kerkenes. Click here for the full Micromorphology Report .

    6. Architecture
    A long 2m wide trench, TT15, was put through a large complex at the north-west side of the site which did, as anticipated on the basis of the geophysical map, contain a columned hall.
    Two-roomed structures, prominent on the geomagnetic maps in several areas of the site, are not "megarons"; rather, they comprise a smaller roofed unit, with wide central doorways, leading to a walled but unroofed unit (Area D, TT16 & TT18).
    The large complex to the north of the "Cappadocia Gate" (Area A, TT19) has the characteristic plan and paving associated with animals (Kroll, 1992) and were perhaps the imperial stables or warehouses.
    In general, many structures had timber frames filled with mud-brick on top of stone footings, although some walls appear to have been built of stone to roof height. Timber-framed stone walls also occur. Internal surfaces were laid clay floors, many external surfaces were stone paved. There seems to have been a development in building methods during the short life of the city. The architectural forms are strongly reminiscent of an Eastern tradition. The construction techniques, devoid of embellishment, also echo pre-Achaemenid Iran and show no discernible influence, e.g. drafted masonry, from Lydia or Ionia (see the comments by Stronach, 1978, 10-11).

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