©The Archaeological Settlements of Turkey - TAY Project


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Investigation Method:
Archaic Classical


Location: It is situated in the Ildiri Village of the Alaçati Subdistrict, 20 km northeast of the Çesme District in Izmir [Sevin 2001a:255].
Geography and Environment: It was founded on a shore where part of the coast bore the name of Leopodon within a gulf delimited by Cape Coryne to the northwest (Teke/Çolak), Cape Mesate (Top) to the southeast. It is situated facing four small islands, called Hippi during the ancient period, currently known as Karaada, Tavsan Island, Yassiada and Orak Island [Sevin 2001a:90].
Research and Excavation: Erythrai was subject to archaeological surveys and investigations starting in early 18th century. Chandler discovered the ancient settlement in early 19th century, followed by scientists and explorers such as Hamilton, Texier, Waddington, Buresch, Boechk, Weber and J.M. Cook who conducted surveys and studies in the ancient settlement. The director of the Izmir Museum, H. Gültekin before 1965, and then Gültekin and Akurgal were the scientists who conducted excavations in the city [Bayburtluoğlu 1975:19-22]. The first campaign at Erythrai took place in 1964 under the direction of E. Akurgal and excavations lasted until 1975 at intervals, then resumed in 1977 again under the direction of Akurgal and lasted until 1983 without interruption. Soundings were conducted in 1988 under the direction of Ö. Özyigit. The surveys initiated by Coşkun Özgünel from Ankara University in 2003 lasted three years. The excavations were resumed in 2006 by the authorization of the Ministry of Culture. These excavations are conducted by A.G. Akalin [Akalin 2008:299].
Small Finds: Architecture: The 1979 excavations yielded an important portion of the northern and western podium walls of the Athena Temple. The northern and western podium walls of the temple were constructed as a whole during the 8th century BC while the easten podium wall was constructed during the 6th century BC. No traces of the southern podium wall were found. The stratigraphical studies carried out in the temple showed that the temple was almost entirely destroyed in 545 BC, and then rebuilt and reinforced around 530 BC. The western side of the temple was enlarged and enclosed by a temenos wall during this period [Akurgal 1981:31]. Walls were encountered in trench 1 at 50 cm depth under the ground as a result of the 1988 campaign. According to this, a Byzantine wall was identified at an altitude of 0.33 m, and a Roman wall at an altitude of 0.14 m and a Classical Period level at at altitude of 0.05 m. The Roman wall was unearthed at 30-35 cm depth in trenches 2, 3 and 4 while the Classical Period wall was unearthed at 75 cm depth. The Roman Wall was unearthed at 60 cm depth in trenches 7 and 9 while intense Late Classical - Early Hellenistic Period sherds were encountered at 130 cm depth. The trenches 5 and 6 yielded Roman Period sherds at 60 cm depth, and further extensive Classical Period pottery were found at sea level. The Classical Period wall was found 135 cm below at and altitude of 0.45 m in trench 11, and fragments of terra cotta sarcophagi from the 6th century BC were found at the deepest point of the same trench at an altitude of 0.3 m. A wall was unearthed at and altitude of 2 m in trench 12, presumably belonging to the first half of the 5th century BC [Özyigit 1990:127-130]. During the 2011 studies, in the trench numbered CT11-011, the section where the wall with loam mortar angles towards the north has been damaged. It is thought that this 2 m high wall belong to EBA. A great number of EBA sherds were collected in front of the wall. Pottery: The excavations conducted in 1988 revealed building walls from the Classical Period along with pottery of the same period. Also, fragment of a 6th century BC sarcophagus decorated with Ionian Kymation in trench 11 was found during the same excavations [Özyigit 1990:127-130]. Sculpture/Relief: Many terra cotta statuettes were unearthed during excavations conducted since 1965. Most of them bear human and animal depictions, dating from the Archaic Period. The human statuettes are divided into; standing and sitting terracotta female figurines with and without polos [Bayburtluoglu 1997:3]. Also found are samples depicting mythological characters and animals. In addition to statuettes such as ducks and swans commonly observed at every site, one Sub-Geometric period horse statuette was also found [Bayburtluoglu 1997:8]. The remaining samples except the horse statuette belong to the Archaic Period, which include goat, boar, sheep owl and lion depictions [Bayburtluoglu1997:8-9]. There are also 3 rythons in the form of sirens, which were not so well preserved [Bayburtluoglu 1997:9-10]. Among other terracotta artifacts found in Erythrai are sarcophagi with decorations in relief, which are distinct from the ones at Klazomenai [Bayburtluoglu 1997:24-27]. During the 2011 studies, potsherds dated to Geometric Period were found inside the series of walls in Trench CT11-008, in the area between the wall of D2 and D3. Geometric Period sherds, sherds with Orientalizing figure and Chios wares were found together in the area between the wallf of D3 and D5. In the deeper levels, EBA sherds were seen as well. Potsherds belonging to EBA and Geometric Period as well as a few bright burnished Attic ceramics were recovered within the clay fill of Trench CT11-011. Coin: The first coins of the city were the electron coins without inscriptions and they belonged to the 7th century BC and earlier. A coin struck on the Phoenician standards bears a star shaped flower on the obverse, and a cross or an irregular quadratum incisum on the reverse. Same type of coins were struck in Milesian standards using silver. A depiction of Heracles is seen on the 5th and 4th BC coins [Bayburtluoğlu 1975:23-25].
Interpretation and Dating: Both during the 1979 campaign and the following campaigns, the Athena Temple represented the earliest building of the city (the 8th-second half of the 7th century BC). The fragments of terracotta sarcophagi unearthed belong to the 6th century BC. Furthermore, it seems that the city had been inhabited from the Classical Period until the Byzantine Period.

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