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    Western Anatolia in the Late Neolithic and EarlyChalcolithic: the actual state of research

    by Clemens LICHTER

    Introduction

    On the basis of river catchments, the lowlands west and northwest of the Central AnatolianPlateau can be subdivided into two distinct areas. The northwest encompasses the catchmentof rivers emerging into the Sea of Marmara and the rivers flowing to the Aegean define

    Western Anatolia.

    In the last two decades, intensive field research in Northwest Turkey in both Thrace andthe Marmara Region extending onto the Anatolian peninsula has been carried out by Istan-bul University under the supervision of M. zdoan (survey in Turkish Thrace and excava-tions at Toptepe, Yarmburgaz, Hoca eflme; comprehensive: zdoan 1989; 1999), by theDutch team excavating at Ilpnar (Roodenberg 1995; 1999; Roodenberg/Thissen 2001) andMentefle (Roodenberg et al. 2003), and by a German-Turkish team working at the site of

    Afla Pnar (zdoan/Parzinger 1995; Karul et al. 2003) in Turkish Thrace. This fieldworkhas now established the foundations of a chronological sequence, a basis for future investi-gation so that the present day cultural sequences of Northwest Anatolia can be correlated

    with those of the Balkans. This research has demonstrated a significant phenomenon: theThracian characteristics obviously display features different from those of the Northwest

    Anatolian regions. First of all the chronological aspect must be mentioned. Regarding the14C data (Reingruber/Thissen this volume) no site in Thrace belongs to the 7th millennium,

    whereas neolithic sites in Northwest Anatolia can be dated at least to the 63rd century BC.The Fikirtepe culture known through many sites in Northwest Anatolia seems to be ab-sent in Thrace. One may object for good reasons, that the state of research in Turkish Thracemay be responsible for the lack of neolithic sites dating to the 7 th millennium BC and thatolder sites in Thrace are waiting to be discovered and excavated. On the other hand furtherobservations can hardly be neglected. Examinations of the lithic industries (Gatsov 2001;

    2003) highlight the differences between the lithic industries of Neolithic Thrace on the oneside and Ilpnar on the other. Similar observations can be made concerning a number of

    C. Lichter (ed.), How did farming reach Europe? BYZAS 2 (2005) 5974

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    bone tools (Sidra 1998). Polypod vessel types (Schwarzberg this volume) in Thrace differfrom those found in Anatolia1. Stamp seals, well known from Anatolia and SoutheastEurope (see further below) are missing in Northwest Anatolia but belong to the neolithic

    inventory of Thracian sites.

    Together these observations seem to suggest that the Sea of Marmara connecting theAegean and the Black Sea and situated between Anatolia and the Balkan peninsula hadoccasionally acted more as a barrier than a bridge; that is to say it did not fulfil the bridgefunction taken for granted due to its distinctive location in earlier assessments concerningthe neolithization of Europe. Hand-in-hand with this conclusion comes the observation thatthe chronology of Early Neolithic sites within Bulgaria suggests a spread from west to eastrather than from east to west (Thissen 2000a). Furthermore, the fact that the earliest neo-lithic traces in Europe are found in Thessaly (Greece) around the mid of the 7th millennium

    BC2

    can hardly be disregarded. Northwest Turkey seems to have been situated only on theperiphery of the main dissemination route of the Neolithic to Europe.

    Western Anatolia

    The Western Anatolian rivers flowing into the Aegean, namely Bakr ay, Gediz ay, Kkand Byk Menderes, are more or less E-W oriented, and give natural access to the highlandsof Anatolia, where they have their source. Also these rivers connect and formed the manyfertile plains favourable for farming communities. In general, these environmental advanta-ges (accessibility of the hinterland and broad fertile plains) clearly distinguish Western

    Anatolia from the Black Sea- or Southern Anatolian coastal regions, where the E-W orientedchains of high mountains impeded the formation of broad plains and presented a naturalbarrier for access to the interior of the country.

    Concerning the environmental conditions of Western Anatolia it has often been shown thatdue to the rise and fall of the sea level and the accumulation of river sediments the coastlinemust have altered enormous since the end of the last Ice age (i.e. Brckner 2003; Erol 1976;Kayan 1988; 1997; Kraft et al. 1980). This phenomenon may completely change the relationand distance of any prehistoric site to the sea. Furthermore one might also expect a largenumber of prehistoric settlements to be buried underneath huge alluvial deposits.

    It is a well-known fact, that the Aegean due to the short distance between the islands and thevisibility of one another was a favourable area for ancient seafaring (Broodbank 2000, 101ff).In spite of a long history of research for instance on the Cyclades, until now no Early Neo-lithic site (Greek terminology) has been found on the Aegean islands. At first sight there isno reason to believe that any contacts had been established via the Aegean in the EarlyNeolithic period. On the other hand, the restricted resources of these islands, restrained

    Clemens Lichter60

    1 Schwarzberg this volume, Fig. 6; Type 2 distributed in Anatolia and the Balkans is missing in Thrace, whereas Type1, familiar in Thrace is unknown in Anatolia.

    2 See Alram-Stern 1996, 189-195; Bloedow 1991; 1993, 56 (6600 cal BC); Perls 2001, 94 (6500 cal BC); Thissen 2000a,143; 2000c, 192 (6300 cal BC).

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    Early Neolithic farmers from permanently settling there and could be inferred as the reasonfor this absence. Nevertheless, there is reason to believe, that the islands in the Aegean mighthave been visited and were used as stopping places (Broodbank 2000, 111).

    It has become evident from several avenues of research that the Aegean was being navigatedlong before the introduction of agriculture. An irrefutable indication of seafaring on the

    Aegean in a pre-Neolithic period are the Melian obsidian finds from as early as Late Palaeo-lithic strata at the site of Franchthi in Greece (Perls 1987, 142-145; Perls 1990, 30; Ren-frew/Aspinall 1990, 257-270) and in the Mesolithic layers of the Cyclops Cave on the islandof Youra (Sampson this volume). In the case of Anatolia, pieces of obsidian of Melian originfound in Western Anatolian sites like Moral (French 1965; 1969), Altnkum Plaj (Gebel1984; Mosheim/Althaus 1984) and Dedecik-Heybelitepe (Lichter/Meri in prep.) demon-strate contact with the Aegean3. The colonization of islands like Cyprus, Corsica or Sardinia

    (Cherry 1981; 1990; Peltenburg et al. 2000) from the 8th

    millennium BC (or even earlier)or the neolithisation of Crete (Broodbank/Strasser 1991) provides further evidence for thisassumption.

    Taking into consideration all these observations, Western Anatolia can be termed as a favour-able area with respect to the natural environment and its connection with the surroundingenvirons (Thissen 2000b).

    The archaeological evidence

    Concerning the Neolithic and the Early Chalcolithic, Western Anatolia was for a long timeviewed as a region devoid of settlements. It is only relatively recently that archaeologicalresearch of the pre-bronze age period in Western Anatolia began in earnest. D. Frenchdiscovered a few sites in the zmir region and published some material (French 1965). Sincethe eighties many new sites have been discovered, more or less intensively surveyed and pub-lished4. Concerning the location of these sites one can distinguish settlements not far fromthe coastline or probable ancient coastline (i.e. Araptepe, Coflkuntepe, Killiktepe) and sitesat the edge or within fertile alluvial plains (i.e. Dedecik-Heybelitepe, Moral, Ulucak), a dif-ferentiation within the ceramic finds has not been outlined thus far. Besides flat settlements

    with only thin layers of cultural deposit (i.e. Araptepe, Coflkuntepe) several multi-layered tell

    settlements have been noticed (i.e. Ulucak).The sites presently known (Fig. 1) are distributed along the coast from Thrace and theGelibolu peninsula to the mouth of the Byk Menderes. The easternmost sites were discov-ered on the western fringes of Ktahya, Uflak and Afyon provinces (Efe 1995; 1996). An

    Western Anatolia in the Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic: the actual state of research 61

    3 In contrast, the provenance of the Obsidian used in Ulucak was probably Central Anatolia (ilingirolu et al. 2004,52).

    4 Altnkum Plaj (Gebel 1984); Araptepe (Lichter 2002); Coflkuntepe (Seeher 1990); Hamayltarla and other sitesarround Gelibolu peninsula (Erdou 2000); Killiktepe (Voigtlnder 1983); Moral (Din 1997; Takaolu 2004);

    Tavflan / fiapl adas (Akdeniz 1997a; 1997b); Aydn Province (Gnel 2003a/b; 2004); Gelibolu peninsula (zdoan1986); Torbal plain (Meri 1993).

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    Clemens Lichter62

    Fig. 1 Map of Western Anatolia with sites mentioned in the text

    1. Akmaka (Efe 1995) 2. Alibeyli (French 1965) 3. Altnkum Plaj (Gebel 1984) 4. Aphrodisias-Pekmez (Joukowsky 1986) 5. Araptepe-Bekirlertepe (Lichter 2002) 6. Afla Pnar(Karul et al. 2003) 7. Ayio Gala (Hood 1981) 8. Bademaac (Duru 1999) 9. Bergama-Paflaky(Erdou 2000, 158) 10. Buruneren 11. Coflkuntepe (Seeher 1990) 12. alca (zdoan/Gatsov

    1998) 13. Demircihyk (Seeher 1987) 14. Fikirtepe (Bittel 1970) 15. Haclar (Mellaart 1970) 16. Hamayltarla (Erdou 2000, 158) 17. Hoca eflme (zdoan 1999) 18. Hycek (Duru 1995) 19. Ilpnar (Roodenberg 1995) 20. Karaaatepe (Demangel 1926)