July 22nd, 2014

Burgaz Harbors Project 2014

Welcome back to the Burgaz Harbors Project blog as we begin our 2014 field season. Our project investigates how changes in local maritime landscape, seaborne connectivity, and harbor infrastructure reflect the evolving civic, military, and socioeconomic identity of the site and its commercial horizons between the Archaic period and Late Antiquity. In 2014, planned excavation and survey continue in Harbor 1 and along the Seawall, long associated with the earliest phases of the site. We seek information about the construction and use of the early harbor and its association with the settlement on land. In Harbor 2, we aim to explore the built harbor works and their possible connection with military usage and the fortification of the city. Finally, new work in Harbor 4 investigates the later industrial stages of the harbors, as we focus on an area of workshops and built dolia, apparently used in association with seaside industries and the production and packing of wine for export.

Please follow our blog for updates about the season!

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August 15th, 2013

Drawing ceramics

(Guest post by Sarah Wilker)

Drawing ceramics at the METU excavation house

Drawing ceramics at the METU excavation house

The Burgaz Harbors Project 2013 season has provided me with an opportunity to learn the conventions of ceramic drawing. Drawings of pottery provide a different set of information from photographs of pottery. While photographs show exactly what a piece of pottery looks like now, a drawing can paint an accurate picture of what the piece looked like in its original pre-worn state. No drawing can recreate a piece of pottery, but it can show information no longer preserved by the piece itself.

The initial step of ceramic drawing, finding the diameter measure, can help identify a piece of pottery’s use; a very large diameter is more likely to be a plate or a large bowl, while a smaller diameter may belong to a cup or another small vessel. Depending on the amount of surviving ceramic, the diameter measure can be taken with a ruler or with a pre-existing rim chart (a chart with different circular-rim drawings already shown with their respective diameter measure). The diameter measure is drawn and noted on the sketch. Once the diameter has been taken, a center line is drawn to separate the diameter into two radii (one for each side of the piece from a two dimensional view).

The second step of a ceramic drawing is a profile of the piece. Every ceramic drawing includes a carefully taken profile. This profile can be taken with clay, a contour gauge, or another measuring device. The profile of a ceramic piece is vital for identifying the function of a piece of pottery, because every type of pottery has its own shape and set of contours. The profile is then placed on the outer left edge of the diameter.

Pottery drawings use lines to indicate sharp directional changes. On the profile side of the drawing (left) horizontal lines are used to indicate contour changes on the interior of the piece. When a piece of pottery is photographed, the current angles and contours are represented. With a drawing, one can recreate the former shape of the piece through contour lines, which can aid in the identification of a piece.

In order to make a complete drawing, the profile is flipped to the right side of the diameter. This profile, however, only indicates the outermost line of the piece (no interior contour detailing). Additionally, any horizontal contour lines on the right side of of the center line show sharp directional changes in the exterior shape.

Finally, if the piece is less than twenty five percent of its original whole, then the sherd is sketched in between the right side exterior line and the center line. If the piece is twenty five to fifty percent preserved, a rough sketch of the piece is drawn from the right outside line to the center line. If the whole piece is preserved (the entirety of the diameter), then half the piece is sketched from the exterior line to the mid line. This step unites drawing with photo; it shows what remains post-excavation next to the platonic form of the piece.

I have grown to love pottery drawing more and more throughout the Burgaz Harbors Project excavation season. While I have always loved working with pottery, ceramic drawing has taught me to look at individual pottery sherds more carefully. Additionally, the ability to use measurement and profile to make ceramic identifications is fascinating to me. I hope to continue to look at ceramics through drawing on future excavation seasons.

August 14th, 2013

Expectations vs. realities of harbor excavation

(Guest post by Tessa Little)

Gladiators and their equipment in the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology

Gladiators and their equipment in the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology

When I first learned of the Burgaz Harbors Project I was particularly excited about the possibility to learn more about trade patterns between ancient cities.  My M.A. research at Brock focuses on the transport of exotic animals for display in public spectacles: specifically how they were transported, from where they were commonly exported, and to what destinations they were sent. To help facilitate my participation in the project I wrote a funding proposal where I discussed how the presence of certain archaeological remains in harbors and on shipwrecks could explain the transport of exotic animals by sea for gladiatorial combat and other novelty activities. As I quickly have learned during the project, the evidence that I expected would be difficult, if not impossible, to find.

The primary physical evidence I hoped to find in the harbor or at any underwater site included bones, teeth, and the structural remains of cages used in transport. These objects, however, do not generally survive well underwater.

For the transport of animals such as lions, I imagined the use of iron cages. While working in the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology I soon learned that iron rusts and eventually dissolves in the sea, leaving behind what appears to be a large rock.  In reality this rock reflects years of concretion that collected on the metal and was left behind when the metal dissolved. To date, no metal cages have been found at underwater sites, but I am keeping my eyes open for large cage concretions!

My next assumption was that wood– easily accessible and easy to produce–could also have been used to construct transport cages for animals less dangerous than lions.  Unlike metal, wood generally survives well under water.  The salinity of sea water prevents the growth of bacteria on the wood and can serve as a natural means of preservation, as does the creation of an anaerobic environment when wood is covered deeply by sand.  But in a real harbor context, as I have seen this summer, the wooden remains we have found tend to be very small fragments that cannot easily provide clues to their original use or structure.

Perhaps the most obvious evidence I hoped to find to mark the transport of large, exotic animals by sea would be bones and other physical remains of animals in the harbor. Physical remains, I soon discovered, also do not survive well in an underwater environment. Organic material quickly disintegrates in the water.  This is primarily because the bones and teeth I would expect to find are composed primarily of collagen and calcium, which do not survive as well in the marine environment as do ceramics and metals. Generally the deeper and more covered the organic remains, the better their condition will be. Excavation in a harbor usually entails excavation in shallow water, leaving little opportunity for the discovery of the remains of animal species I believe would be transported for public display. The physical remains we have found seem far more mundane, including the bones and teeth primarily of sheep and cows rather than wild tigers and boars.

In the end I learned that working in and under the water, specifically when looking for material that is primarily organic, can be challenging.  While the remains of animals found at Burgaz can be essential to understanding economic, cultural, and trade customs of the cities in the region—particularly the dining patterns of sailors and traders–using them to understand a specific economic and cultural tradition, such as the transport of exotic animals for gladiatorial combat, remains problematic. Perhaps one day a shipwreck discovered in deep water, en route from Africa to Rome, might reveal the evidence I hoped to see at Burgaz.

August 13th, 2013

A day in the pottery shed

(Guest post by Megan Daniels)

I am probably the only one on this project who rarely even sees the water, let alone gets into it! My job at Burgaz is twofold: one on hand, I manage the finds as they come in from the field, from their desalinization to drying, sorting, and cataloguing, to photography and drawing, and finally to finer-grained analyses. On the other hand, I have also spent much of the last month looking closely and patiently through an eyeglass lens, trying to pick out subtle details of pottery that might help us in distinguishing different types of local fabrics. Consequently, through characterizing fabrics and sorting the Burgaz ceramics into distinct fabric groups, we hope to gain a clearer picture of local networks of production. I have to date distinguished around 8 different local groups of fabrics through close inspection, photography and written descriptions.

In addition, I have been using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) machine to take chemical readings on different fabrics in order to test the accuracy of visible identifications and to build up a “library”, so to speak, of chemical profiles of local fabrics. Essentially, XRF instruments emit x-ray photons into a sample of material (in our case, ceramics) and then measure the characteristic fluorescent energies given off by different elements within the material. The XRF readings along with a physical reference collection I have assembled should give us a better handle in analyzing fabrics and understanding the ratios of local versus imported wares. Ultimately, the data we are gathering through fabric-sorting and XRF-testing will help to build up a picture of the changing importance and nature of Burgaz throughout different periods, from its earlier periods as a bustling town and port to later periods, when the site served a more local industrial purpose.

August 13th, 2013

Excavation in L1 and along the sea wall

(Guest post by Lana Radloff)

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Site plan with location of Harbor 1 (L1) NE of Acropolis

For the area around Harbor 1, the goals for the 2013 season include determining whether the area within the seawall was in use or submerged in antiquity, and understanding the construction of the seawall in relation to the harbor, as well as the stratigraphic sequence and chronology of the area.

We began excavation within the seawall with work in Trench 1, located at the juncture between the seawall and Wall A, which extends west toward the shore. This trench was initially opened in the 2012 season, but we added a series of new 2m x 2m units this year. We also began work in Trench 3, located about 30m north of Trench 1 and intersecting the seawall.

Excavation in L1, Trench 1

Excavation in L1, Trench 1

Excavation in Trench 1 suggests that the seawall was constructed by laying a rubble foundation for a superstructure of large stones, of which we have one course sporadically preserved along the length of the seawall. This foundation is largely comprised of compact, dark grey, shale-like stones; further away from the wall, the stones are more loosely organized, suggesting that they were either the result of wall fall or a buttress against the impact of the sea swells and winds, which are significant in this area, particularly in the winter. In Trench 3, about 6m from the sea wall we encountered a concreted layer of cobbles at a depth of c. 40cm, which appears to be deliberately fashioned, perhaps marking the remains of a quay. Closer to the sea wall, more rubble appeared, similar to that seen in Trench 1.

Profile of seawall near L1

Profile of seawall near L1

In Trench 1 and Trench 3, we have found an abundance of ceramic remains in the first c. 25cm, most of which date to the Late Classical and Early Hellenistic Periods, along with a few from earlier period in deeper levels. Trench 3 has yielded many diagnostic finds, including common wares and transport amphorae. The ceramics in Trench 1 have been more heavily worn with fewer diagnostics.

Surface collection in L1, Trench 3

Surface collection in L1, Trench 3

As a final project in L1, we resumed excavation in Trench 2, a 2m x 2m unit in the middle of L1 begun in 2012. In this trench, we hope to learn more about the earliest phases of the harbor and its depth in antiquity. In 2012 we faced problems moving layers of sea grass and dense pebbles, but our improved dredges should make the work easier this year. Once we make it through the pebble layer, we hope to find sand and sediment suitable for coring.

Excavation resumes in L1, Trench 2

Excavation resumes in L1, Trench 2

August 12th, 2013

Recording architectural features on shore

(Guest post by Megan Collier and Annie Parker)

While the idea of discovery may draw most people to a career in archaeology, it is the recording of these finds that truly embodies the core principals of our profession. One of the first things archaeologists learn is to write down and keep track of what they have done. Often times the recording is more painstaking and time consuming than the actual digging!

Even though this excavation is mostly concerned with structures situated in the harbors, there are other features that are associated with the city, but are located just on shore. In our case, we are recording a wall that may have been part of the city walls of old Knidos. It is only about a meter inland from the shore, and spans harbors 2 and 3.

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Megan C supervises architectural drawing

Two people must work together to record an architectural feature like a wall. In order to take precise measurements, a baseline must first be set up. We stretch a string between two pieces of rebar hammered into the ground. Using a line level, we make sure the baseline is completely level and doesn’t sag in the middle. Next we attach a tape measure to the rebar at the same spots as the line so it too is level.  One person takes another tape measure and using a plumb bob, finds the measurement at the same level as the baseline.

Annie takes measurements with a plumb bob

Annie takes measurements with a plumb bob

The person measuring holds the plumb bob directly over the point she wants to measure and finding the shortest measurement between the line and the plumb bob. The other person then records the point on millimeter grid paper. Once enough points have been recorded, a rough outline of the rock is drawn. The recorder then fills in the details and slowly a complete outline of the wall begins to form.

After we had rendered a drawing of the entirety of the uncovered wall, we used a Total Station to take points along the wall’s four corners, and down the sides parallel to the sea, in order to plot the shape of the wall. When we put these points into ArcGIS, we can put the wall on the map, so to speak, in real world space.

It is important to have a thorough record of what is excavated because we may not get another chance to examine structures, even if they have already existed for thousands of years. In our case, tourism is increasing in the area where the remaining wall exists, which could lead to erosion or inadvertent destruction of the feature. So while drawing and recording may not be the most glamorous aspect of an archaeological project, it is certainly an integral part.

Sarah records details about the wall

Sarah records measurements and draws details of the wall

August 9th, 2013

Journey Down the Peninsula: Our Visit to (New) Knidos

(Guest post by Megan Anderson)

“Superior to any other statue, not only to others made by Praxiteles himself, but throughout the world, is the Venus, which many people have sailed to Cnidus to see”

                                                                        -Pliny, Natural History 36.20

While the statue of Aphrodite no longer graces the site of Knidos, the ruins of the ancient city still draw many travelers to the memory of its great past. Our particular interest in travelling there was to understand how its harbor compares to where we are working at Burgaz. So early on Sunday morning, Megan C, Grace, Annie, and I made the long sojourn via dolmuş from Datҫa 35 km west to Knidos.

After an hour and a half of scenic mountain views and copious amounts of Crax (a delicious Turkish junk food) we finally arrived. Walking into the site entrance, we are met by a sweeping view of the harbor to the left, as ruins of temples and other public structures occupy the steep slope to the right. Mosaics peek out from under dusty pathways and half revealed drainage systems remind of the vibrancy that must have once animated this city.

View of the trireme harbor and site

View of the trireme harbor and site

Love, I. 1970. “A Preliminary Report of the Excavations at Knidos, 1969.” American Journal of Archaeology 74:149-155 (plate 37, Fig.1). Trireme harbor to the left, commercial harbor to the right.

Love, I. 1970. “A Preliminary Report of the Excavations at Knidos, 1969.” American Journal of Archaeology 74:149-155 (plate 37, Fig.1). Trireme harbor to the left, commercial harbor to the right.

We immediately set out for the trireme harbor (picture 1 &2), having been previously informed about the survival of a mooring stone near its entrance. Well prepared from our own excavations near a seawall, we scrambled quickly down the side of the wall and onto the tumbled blocks below to begin our search (picture 3). While our search was unsuccessful (the mooring stone was in fact in the other harbor), it was a perfect vantage point to see the large cut stones that fortified the entrance of this military harbor.

Looking for a mooring stone at the trireme harbor

Looking for a mooring stone at the trireme harbor

Located at the joining of the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, Knidos was a major player on the Anatolian coast, a fact attested to by the existence of its two harbors, the military harbor we were currently viewing, and a commercial harbor situated directly behind it. The commercial harbor is still a popular spot for boats full of tourists ready to cool off in the blue green waters.

Commercial harbor

Commercial harbor

After enjoying the sea breeze that blows in over the harbor wall, we began a climb up the slope, weaving through the remnants of impressive architecture such as Apollo’s Temple, and the Round Temple which commands striking views of the entire site. It was interesting to note just how much public architecture was located in close proximity to the harbor, giving the impression that it was the central focus of the ancient city.

Round temple

Round temple

Ruled by the dolmuş schedule, we ended our visit all too quickly with an ice cold Yedigün and a memory card full of picturesque photos. Faced with the very long and windy bus ride, I couldn’t help thinking how nice it would have been to sail out of one of the harbors we saw on our visit instead.

August 8th, 2013

Using Water Dredges in the Harbors of Burgaz

(Guest post by Tyler Laughlin)

Grace using the water dredge at L1

Grace using the water dredge at L1

One of the benefits of performing an excavation in shallow water rather than land is the ability to utilize simple water dredges for removing sediment and small stones.  While the shovel and trowel can never be replaced as necessary tools for an excavation, the water dredges have greatly enhanced the productivity of our 2013 excavation team. For our trusty dredges, thanks are due to our own Troy Nowak and INA’s Murat Tilev, who creatively adapted the fantastic dredge parts manufactured by Keene Engineering to work with equipment available locally in Turkey.

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The water pump with attached intake hose (left) and pressurized fire hose (right) expelling water.

The only items necessary to make a water dredge are a water pump, three hoses, and a Venturi tube.  Water is drawn up through an intake hose equipped with a one-way filter to prevent backflow and to keep debris out of the water pump.  The pump draws in the water and expels it down another hose that becomes constricted in flow over distance.  The reduction in diameter creates the Venturi effect where the velocity of the water increases as it enters a constricted area.  It also lowers the static pressure behind the flow creating a vacuum.

We utilize the Venturi effect through a metal pipe with an angled attachment for the water from the pump to flow into.  The working end of the dredge is attached to the end of the Venturi tube that is closest to where the compressed water flow enters.  This is where the pressure is lower and causes suction for the dredge to act like a vacuum, taking up loose sand, sediment and small stones.  The compressed pump water and working end fluid flow through the Venturi tube out the opposite end where an exhaust hose is attached to move unwanted materials away from the excavation trench.

Venturi tube with fire hose (bottom left), working end hose (top left), and exhaust hose (right).

Venturi tube with fire hose (bottom left), working end hose (top left), and exhaust hose (right).

The working end of the dredge with rotating head attachment.

The working end of the dredge with rotating head attachment.

Exhaust hose dumping debris into a sieve away from the excavation trench.

Exhaust hose dumping debris into a sieve away from the excavation trench.

The dredge is not a perfect machine and has its own set of logistical problems.  The actual pump needs to be properly maintained to function and, ironically, cannot get wet.  Pumps must be secured onto tables before a dredge is started.  Also, large rocks and other debris can clog the dredge causing it to fail.

Despite some of the problems that can accompany using the water dredges, they streamline the excavation process in shallow water.  We would not be making nearly as much progress this 2013 season without the water dredges.

Grace happily using a working dredge!

Grace happily using a working dredge!

August 5th, 2013

Excavation in L2

(Guest post by Troy Nowak)

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Site plan with L2 SW of acropolis

The goals of the work in L2 for 2013 include determining the dates of construction and use of the harbor, understanding the stratigraphy of the harbor basin and its depth during its period of use, and recording key architectural details such as the foundation and method of construction of the harbor walls.

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L2 T4 A-D

Work in L2 began on July 23 with the establishment of a 4 x 4 m block of excavation units [L2 T4 A-D] set against the inner face of the west harbor wall approximately 8 m east of its tower.  This location was chosen because of the fine preservation of the wall at this point and the relative paucity of large stones on the modern harbor floor that would have to be removed in order to begin excavation.

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Can and Meg working in L2 T4-D

Over the past ten days, archaeologists have worked in teams systematically excavating and removing more than 8 m3 of overburden. The vast majority of finds they have uncovered were found in the uppermost 50 cm of each unit and date from the Late Classical and Hellenistic Periods.  They include fragments of coarse ware vessels and Knidian transport amphoras. All were recovered from mixed contexts as evidenced by a few Late Roman transport amphora sherds, fragments of an Efes beer can and other modern debris.

No significant stratigraphic changes have been identified to date; however, a layer of large stones similar to the rough blocks that compose the wall was identified at a depth of approximately 1 m below the modern harbor floor. The team working in L2 looks forward to continuing its work to determine if this layer represents wall collapse, construction debris, or the wall’s foundation.

The west harbor wall and layer of stones in L2 T4 D

The west harbor wall and layer of stones in L2 T4 D

August 3rd, 2013

Burgaz and “Old Knidos”

Located just east of the modern town of Datça, about halfway between Knidos and Marmaris on the south coast of the Datça peninsula, the site of Burgaz was originally identified by George Bean and John Cook as the settlement of the Knidians before their move to Tekir at the tip of the peninsula. While the interpretation is not without controversy, most current accounts of the region accept the notion of two sites, and the interpretation of Burgaz as Old Knidos seems well supported in readings of the historical evidence. For example, Thucydides’ (8.35) description of the conflict between the Athenians and Peloponnesians centers on two sites: (1) Triopium, a sacred site of Apollo in the path of merchant ships arriving from Egypt, and (2) the original unfortified town of Knidos.  The historian writes (Greek text):

[1] They put in at Knidos, which under the influence of Tissaphernes had already revolted from Athens. [2] The Peloponnesian authorities at Miletus, when they heard of their arrival, ordered one half of these ships to protect Knidos, and the other half to cruise off Triopion and seize the merchant vessels which put in there from Egypt. This Triopion is a promontory in the district of Knidos on which there is a temple of Apollo. [3] The Athenians, hearing of their intentions, sailed from Samos and captured the six ships which were keeping guard at Triopion; the crews escaped. They then sailed to Knidos, and attacking the town, which was unwalled, all but took it.