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Kösk Höyük

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Köşk Höyük
1400 m
Central Anatolia
Investigation Method:


Location: The site lies in the province of Nigde; close to Bahçeli Village; 17 km to the centrum; on the Kayseri-Nigde-Adana highway [Silistreli 1984a:83].
Geography and Environment: A Roman Period artificial pool located at the southern skirts of the mound is supplied by a natural spring closely which proves that; at least 2000 years ago; the region was watery and fertile just like in the present. The mound is 80 m in diameter and 15 m in height [Harmankaya et al. 1997:Kösk Höyük].
Research and Excavation: The site; also known as Kösk Pinar; is discovered by M. Ballance in 1961 and surface collectings were conducted by R. Harper and M. Ramsden in 1964 [Summers 1993:29]; by I.A. Todd in 1965 [Todd 1968:104]. Excavations by U. Silistreli from Ankara University; Faculty of Letters* were conducted between 1981 and 1992. The second campaign by A. Öztan from the same faculty has started in 1996 and is still being conducted. It takes place in the registered archaeological sites list prepared by Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Stratigraphy: The ceramics found at the site have been assigned to the end of the Early Neolithic Period; to the Late Neolithic-Early Chalcolithic Period. Three layers which date to the Neolithic and Chalcolithic were found. From top to bottom: Layer I and II have been assigned to the Early Chalcolithic and Layer III has been assigned to the latest phase of the Early Neolithic [Silistreli 1989a:61; 1991a:99]. In a certain area (the north trench); excavations reached beneath Layer III and discovered that the cultural material deposit continued. The ceramics in this lowest level were characteristically very similar to Layer III. The latest phase at Kösk Höyük is the Roman Period. The most representative remains from this period is a pool which was built in the southern skirts of the mound [Silistreli 1985a:31].
Small Finds: Architecture: The Neolithic architecture in Kösk Höyük is comprised of mudbrick rectangular buildings with stone foundations. The floors and walls of the structures and doorways have been plastered with care. Many stone and baked clay vessels were found in situ on the room floors near ovens; hearths and other architectural elements. One double roomed structure yielded an oven place and a door socket while another one yielded yet another oven; a bench; and an adjacent storage room with pithi which could be entered by a small doorway from the main room [Silistreli 1986a:129; 1987:173]. The only unearthed level IV structure during 2008 campaign is the two room building east of plan square F/8 where the bedrock elevation is higher. It lies in southwest-northeast direction. It is believed that the burnt cane remains yielded on the compressed soil floor belongs to the top covering of the structure. A hearth was placed inside the small room which is accessed through the large room [Öztan et al. 2010:256]. The only definite architecture of this area in 2009 excavations is a room which is partially preserved, adjacent to the North corner of the Room 29 of Layer III which was excavated during the earlier years in the J/8 square in the East. The remains which extend in the same direction with Room 29, i.e. in Northwest-Southeast direction belong to the Southwest part of this room. There is a 40 by 70 cm and 10 cm thick clay box on the narrow angled corner of the room whose wall thickness is 50 cm. The shape of another clay box resting on the Northwest wall is irregular. A little more than half of the ovens which are located on the floor adjacent to the south margin of this box and which has a dimension of 1.50 m could only be preserved in the base level. Right in the east of this oven, the ceramic flooring on the base shows the existence of a fireplace in this part. The other part of the oven as well as the floor and walls of the room are entirely destructed due to erosion. Right in the east of this building there is another wall having a thickness of 70 cm. South-eastern and South-western walls of another building is unearthed in the Southeast of this trench [Öztan-Açıkgöz 2011:137]. A building in the East of the house 1 of Layer III is unearthed by the excavation carried out in square H/10-11 of the plan. An 80 cm wide door opening exists close to the Eastern wall between Room 1 in the North and Room 2 in the South. The rooms' unearthed parts are measured as 5 by 3.80 m externally [Öztan-Açıkgöz 2011.141]. Pottery: Layer III pottery is hand-made. It can be found in two varieties: monochrome and polychrome. The polychrome is more common. Black; dark gray and light and dark red vessels have been burnished and decorated with raised human; animal and geometric motifs. Incrustation technique was used on some vessels. The raised human figures include mother goddesses and men while the animals figures are stylized. The vessels appear to have been made for ritual libations [Silistreli 1986a:130; 1989a:61; 1991a:98]. The decorated ware provides detailed information on the daily life; animal types and beliefs of these peoples. The vessel shapes range between fruit stands; boxes; cups; bowls; tall and short rounded jars; wide forms; pithi; rhytons; and women-shaped vessels [Umurtak 1996:488-489]. Many engraved and some painted different pieces of pottery are captured almost stored one on top of the other from the locations unearthed in the East of the House 1 of Layer III during the excavations carried out in 2009 on square H/10-11 of the plan. Pieces decorated with gazelle, donkey, mountain sheep figures, as well as figures possibly belong to gods and goddesses were placed under the goat, gazelle and deer horns (some with entire heads) are found in Room 1. Pottery decorated with deer, leopard and possibly lion figures are gathered together in Room 2. Cow and bull head figures are repeated on the pillars hanging down on the neck and body parts of the pots on two largish pieces which are found one in each room [Öztan-Açıkgöz 2011:141]. Clay: Layer III of Kösk Höyük yielded many baked clay figurines; spoons with animal headed handles and weights. Fragments of a clay antler made for a hearth were found. Among the clay figurines was a clay head; a headless woman figurine; and a red painted women figurine which had been made in a naturalistic style. A mother goddess sitting on her throne shows excellent workmanship [Silistreli 1986a:132; 133; 1989a:61; 1991a:98]. Chipped Stone: The raw material used in chipped stone tool production is obsidian. Flint is rarely used. Among the obsidian tools were daggers; knives; perforators; different cutting tools; points; spear-heads and other weapons. One of the spear-heads was made of flint [Silistreli 1986a:133; 1989a:62; 1991a:98]. Ground Stone: Stone is worked in many ways other than knapping. Several stone celts; miniature hand-adzes; alabaster mother-goddess statues; marble bracelets; several stone beads; a rock crystal hare figurine and a frit stamp seal are among the most important stone finds. Some of these were grave-goods [Silistreli 1986a: 131-133; 1987:174]. Bone/Antler: The bone tools at Kösk Höyük included bone awls; needles; daggers; pierced scraper-like tools; a tubular round object with a hole on top; stamp seals with geometric decorations and a ritual celt with a piercing for a handle. Some of these were grave goods [Silistreli 1986a:129-133; 1991a:98]. Human Remains: At Kösk Höyük; the dead were buried beneath the house floors. The graves were simple earth graves although jar burials and sarcophagi have also been found [Silistreli 1987:174]. The ancestor cult dominant in Layer II was also discovered in the earlier Layer III; where a plastered skull painted with ocher was found. The skull; which was determined to be female; was covered with clay or plaster after it had been left to decompose and then painted with red ocher. The eyes were represented with black stones [Silistreli 1991a:98]. Another skull; that of a child; was similarly plastered and then painted in red [Silistreli 1987:174]. The dead were buried with their private goods and with their eating and drinking vessels [Silistreli 1989a:62]. In addition to ceramics; the room where the female skull was found also included a goddess figurine; a pierced bone object; obsidian and flint tools and other small finds [Silistreli 1991a:98]. 7 graves were unearthed during the excavations performed in 2007. 6 of these were found inside a building of three phases in building level III, and the mansion helped the expansion of the knowledge base on burial traditions. The only grave of level IV belongs to a newborn that lies at the bottom of the wall. He carries a bracelet made of turquoises terra cotta beads. A vessel for the baby food, a spoon (mollusc shell) left inside this vessel and another one left outside were also found lying next to the dead [Öztan et al. 2009:317]. A cemetery covered with stones was unearthed east of the hearth in plan square G/7 at level IV in 2008. The dead belongs to a decapitated 20-30 yrs old woman which was layed in hocker position in southwest-northeast direction. Her head was unearthed in an area immediately next to it in 2007. The burial presents consist of a flat dish, a fruit-stand, three bowls and an obsidian dagger inside each other, placed between her folded legs and arms. In addition to these there is a necked jar, in the space where her head was supposed to be at, a spatula above her ankle, a bone tool next to that, an obsidian blade in between the arms [Öztan et al. 2010:258]. Other: The most significant assemblage of the level IV structure are the weapons that were left immediately inside the doorway on the floor. These consist of nine obsidian spears, an arrowhead, and the polished stone axe northeast of the room [Öztan et al. 2010:256]. Many beads were unearthed 4 m from the north wall of level IV structure. Most of the beads were made of clay painted in turquoises using molybdenum, others were made of obsidian, calcite, limestone, agate, apatite, two of them were made of copper and bone. There are 5186 pieces of beads including fragments of beads, 4876 pieces are intact. This assemblage was yielded along with bone and stone scraper, piercing tools and a pumice which suggests the area adjacent to the settlement was used as a workshop [Öztan et al. 2010:257]. Besides that, 4 obsidian cores, 32 obsidian spear and arrow heads were revealed on the northwest side of the structure with two small rooms at plan square G/7 [Öztan et al. 2010:257].
Interpretation and Dating: U. Silistreli believed that the site; close to the obsidian sources in the Melendiz Mountains; was an important obsidian trade center both in the Neolithic and in the Chalcolithic Periods. The mother goddess figurines; bulls' heads and polychrome ceramics at the site of Kösk Höyük have many similarities with the sites of Çatalhöyük; Can Hasan and Hacilar. Layer III in Kösk Höyük resembles the Late Neolithic at Çatalhöyük while Layer I and II show parallelisms with Çatalhöyük West; Can Hasan (2B) and the Early Chalcolithic at Hacilar [Silistreli 1985a:34; 1989a:62; 1989b:463; 1990a:92-93; 1991a:99].

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