- 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
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therefore, outdated but they have been retained because they reflect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
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
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
To preempt illicit disturbance.
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 .
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
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).