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Barcin Höyük

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Barcın Höyük
192 m
Investigation Method:


Location: This site lies east of the city of Bursa; 4 km west of the town of Yenisehir; 3-4 km south of the village of Barçin and about 200 m south of the Yenisehir-Bursa highway.
Geography and Environment: The Yenisehir Plain is 4 m high and has a 100 m diameter. There is a freshwater spring very close to the site. Another name for the site is Yenisehir or Bati Höyük. The area is locally known as Üyecek Mevkii; and the mound as Üyecek Tepe. There is a survey point on top of it. The geomorphological and geoarchaeological studies carried out in 2012 indicate that the vicinity of the mound was a swamp-like area [Gerritsen-Özbal 2014:471].
Research and Excavation: The site was visited in 1960 by J. Mellaart; in 1961 by D.H. French and in 1964 by C. Culberg. Members of the University of Istanbul; Department of Prehistorical Archaeology also visited this site and conducted research here. Investigations directed by Jacob Roodenberg on behalf of the Netherlands Institute in Turkey began in 2005 [cat.une.edu.au/page/barcin%20hoyuk 4.12.2006; 15:00]. It takes place in the registered archaeological sites list prepared by Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The name of the mound which was formerly called "Yenisehir 2" was changed as "Barcin". The excavations have been carried out under the directorship of Ass. Prof. Dr. Fokke Gerritsen since 2007.
Stratigraphy: According to the investigations made by J. Roodenberg the earliest levels are of the middle Neolithic period and; based on radiocarbon analysis; date to about 6500 BC. In some areas of the mound layers of mid to late Neolithic are 2.5 m thick. These early levels are similar to those of Mentese Höyük and Ilipinar; which are contemporary with Çatalhöyük VI [cat.une.edu.au/page/barcin%20hoyuk 4.12.2006; 15:00]. As a result of the studies, the Neolithic period was divided into 5 different phases (from VIa to VIe) [Gerritsen-Özbal 2014:472].
Small Finds: Architecture: 9 architecture layers are identified in L11 trench during the studies carried out in 2009. However the garbage pits opened in earlier periods caused heavy destruction and therefore the data about some layers remains limited. And architectural remains from few phases are also captured which are showing different construction techniques and are partially preserved. Some of the houses are built by mud-slab technique while stander and wattle and daub technique is used on other walls. The lowest layer of the trench a house is identified which is in North-South direction and a wall cutting it with perpendicular angle. The excavation of this building is not yet complete however it is believed that a series of floors on top of this building are used as a yard or outdoor area at a later period. Above this layer is another architectural layer which is made of pressurized yellow soil [Özbal-Gerritsen 2011:199]. During the drills carried out in L13 area Neolithic Age is encountered in Northeast. A wall is detected in the North of M10 trench which cut through the burnt architectural remains which are believed to be made of wattle and daub, supported by the poles [Öztan-Gerritsen 2011:200-201]. In Trench L13, undisturbed Neolithic layers were exposed under the layer with midden. These layers consist of superimposed floors of external areas. In this area, two burial pits were discovered. Almost 10 hearthswere found on the north of the trench. The diameter of hearths range from 30 to 50 cm. The hearth dating to the later phase of Neolithic found on the south of L12 points out that the area where two trenches intersect was used for cooking activities for a long time. In the phase exposed under the layer with pits, post holes thought to belong to four different structures were discovered. Based on the post holes, it was understood that the walls of 3 structures (Structure 2, Structure 3 and Structure 4) were built in wattle and daub technique and the structures were built adjacent to each other on the south section of the trench. The one on the westernmost (Structure 2) was more well preserved than the others [Gerritsen-Özbal 2012:157-160]. During the 2011 studies, it is observed that the southwest wall of the house which was discovered in previous years in Trench L11 was collapsed and renovated. The walls were flattened and strengthened by applying a thick layer of mud. The door was blocked and an interior section was formed by making bench or platform. This mud bench or platform was placed vertically to the long wall. Also the external space platform with a dimension of 1.6x3.20 m which was discovered 2007 was started to be excavated. This platform is adjacent to the west wall of the structure. In Trench L12, a wall which is located parallel to the south wall of the house mentioned above in Trench L11 was found. The fact that a narrow corridor - like area with a width of 1 m located parallel to each other was recovered between two houses suggests that this area might have been used as a street. A cooking area was discovered on the south of the house. Three fireplaces paved with pebble stones were exposed. In Trench M10, there are five structures. Located on the south section of the trench, four of them are adjacent to each other and they extend in the east-west direction. The fifth one with thick walls is located in the northwest corner of the trench. Extending in the northeast-southwest direction, this house is separated from the other ones by a courtyard. Among these houses, only the burnt one located on the westernmost was excavated during the 2011 excavation season. One of the most important findings found in this context in question is a burnt clay box. The clay box with a dimension of 0x60 cm and a wall thickness of 1.8 cm contains burnt lime and clay fragments. It was discovered that the floor of the burnt house was paved with plastered timbers. The studies in Trench M 11 were concentrated on the north and south sections. It is suggested that the channel is related a large structure on the south of the trench. This structure extends in the east-west direction and thanks to the postholes, it was discovered that it was built in wattle and daub technique. The north section that is near Trench M 10 was also excavated. The floor of an external space formed with large pebble stones were recovered in this area. This floor is dated a period earlier than the wattle but later than the burnt house in Trench M 10. A floor plastered with lime was found just below the pebble floor. In Trench M 13, which is started to be excavate for the purpose of examining the last levels of Late Neolithic in 2011, three walls belonging to a quite large rectangular structure sharing the same plan with the ones found in the mound were discovered [Özbal-Gerritsen 2013:159-163]. The 2012 excavations were carried out in 8 trenches. In Trench L10, Neolithic rubbish pits were seen. The Structure 5 that was found in Trench L11 South in 2007 was completely unearthed. To the west of the structure, a small room that was used as store room locates. In the north of Trench L11, an area used for pyrotechnical activities was found. A great number of rubbish pits were exposed in the area between the pyrotechnical area and Structure 5. In the northern half of Trench L14, postholes were found. The diameter of these pits is 10-15 cm. To the south of those postholes, a floor was exposed. It was observed that the orientation of Structure 9, which was partially unearthed in Trench M10, is different than the others. The Structure 9 extends in the northwest-southeast direction, while the others reach in the north-south direction. The Structure 9 was used fro a long time and its floors were repeatedly plastered. The floor of Structure 3 located in the south of Trench M10 yielded in situ material. The studies show that Structure 3 was used as workshop. Remains of red ochr, a large number of hammer stone, spatulas made out of cattle ribs, stone axes and flint cores were found in this area. In Structure 10, four different floors containing in situ material were excavated. In the courtyard located to the north of the structure in Trench M13, 3 postholes and 2 rubbish pits were found. It is noteworthy that the courtyard was also used as midden. In addition, it was determined that the structure found in Trench M13 belongs to the Phase VIb, instead of VIa [Gerritsen-Özbal 2014]. Recent studies show that the Neolithic settlement in Barcin Höyük is dated to the period before Fikirtepe culture that is called "Fikirtepe Culture" or "Pre-Fikirtepe". Neolithic Period is represented by Level VI, which has five sub-phases (a-e), in Barcin Höyük. The studies carried out in 2013 resulted important data on the settlement layout and usage of the Neolithic village. In this period, the houses were aligned side by side and these houses were flanked by external spaces, the floors of which are paved with pebble, and courtyards. Due to the fact that the foundation pits found in the upper level cut the lower levels, the houses were rebuilt in the same area [Özbal et al. 2015]. Pottery: It has been reported that the ceramics on this mound are characteristically similar to the mounds of Fikirtepe and Pendik [French 1967:55;56; fig.20/66-70;72;73] (For characteristics of this type of ware; see the site of Fikirtepe; this volume). Özdogan believes that there is a more recent period than Fikirtepe at this site as well [Özdogan 1979:234]. Many potteries are captured in the excavations carried out in 2009 from the Neolithic Layers. Based on the initial analysis it is evident that at least three Late Neolithic pottery phases exist [Öztan-Gerritsen 2011:203]. In 2006, a sounding into the Neolithic level revealed a courtyard with the remains of ovens, bins and pits, as well as a headless human body. After two short campaigns it is clear the upper Neolithic levels can be dated to about 5400 BC and the pottery has parallels with Ilipinar and Mentese Höyük.[http://cat.une.edu.au/page/barcin%20hoyuk; 10.11.2009; 16:09]. In 2010 excavation campaign, pottery found in Trench 13 yielded new types and surface colors which have not been seen before in South Marmara region. It was found out that dark black and brown ware which is known in this region became more pink, gray or reddish and includes more calcite temper in the paste in the lower levels. The pottery is very thin-walled and fine burnished. Two lids which are thought to be made out of unbaked clay were found in the fill of the burnt structure in Trench M10 [Gerritsen-Özbal 2012:160-161]. : In 2011, the high quality potsherds recovered from the upper levels of L 13 are pinkish and light grayish colored, burnished, thin walled and calcite tempered. In the lower levels, mica tempered, thick walled and quite heavy brown colored wares were found [Özbal-Gerritsen 2013:161]. The properties of wares and the 14C dates obtained from the site indicate that the pottery of Barcin Höyük belonged to a culture dated before Fikirtepe [Özbal et al. 2015]. Clay: L11 In the embankment of an architectural phase in the North side of L11 trench a baked earth goddess figurine is found [Özbal-Gerritsen 2011:199]. In Trench L 13, a clay animal figurine was found in 2011 [Özbal-Gerritsen 2013:161]. Bone/Antler: Bone spoons and fragments of spoons were recovered in Trench L13 and the other trenches in 2010 [Gerritsen-Özbal 2012:161]. In 2011, spoons, spatulas and awls were recovered from Trench L13 Özbal-Gerritsen 2013:161. The bone tools of Barcin Höyük share similarity to the ones found in Ilipinar, Mentese, Aktopraklik, Pendik, Fikirtepe, Yenikapi and Gökçeada Ugurlu settlements [Erdalkiran 2015]. Fauna: Considering the find from 2009 it is gathered that the habitants mainly bred domestic cattle, sheep and goat. A small portion of nutrition is from wild resources such as deer, wild boar and water birds [Öztan-Gerritsen 2011:202]. The analysis of animal bones show that domestic species such as cattle and sheep are dominant in the settlement. Also, bones belonging to wild boar, fox, bird species and duck, mollusk, frog and tortoise were found [Özbal et al. 2015]. Human Remains: In 2009 three complete skeletons are unearthed from M10 trench [Öztan-Gerritsen 2011:201]. One of the burials found in Trench L13 in 2010 belongs to an elder individual. Except the head, the majority of the other skeleton remains within the trench wall. In Trench M10, 7 burials belonging to Neolithic Period were discovered: 1 juvenile, 2 adults and 4 infants. It is noteworthy that the burials concentrated in the area which is thought to be a courtyard on the northwest quarter of the trench [Gerritsen-Özbal 2012:157-159]. In 2012, two graves were found in the south side of the floor in Trench L14. One o f these graves belongs to an adult or a teenager. The other one, on the other hand yielded two infant burials. In Structure 4 located in Trench M11, an infant burial was found. A vessel was placed as a burial gift in the grave. This burial is related to the uppermost floor of the structure. Two separate adult burials were found in Trench M13. The one related to the structure contains a bone spoon as well. This grave is the first adult burial found with a burial gift in Barçin Höyük [Gerritsen-Özbal 2014]. In 2013, 24 adults and 2 juvenile burials were found. In addition, a great number of infant burials were exposed. The graves generally contain single burial and the individuals were inhumed in hocker position [Özbal et al. 2015].
Interpretation and Dating: Since the ceramics are similar to those from Fikirtepe; this site has been assigned to the Late Neolithic Period. As a result of the researches that were performed in 2006 the Neolithic layers were dated to 5400 BC and the ceramics are similar to the examples found in Ilipinar and Mentese Höyük. The Early Neolithic layers are similar to the types at Fikirtepe and it was assumed that the first settlement was in mid 7th Millennium [http://cat.une.edu.au/page/barcin%20hoyuk 29.5.2008; 12:15] According to the analysis of the animal bones captured during the excavation carried out in 2009 it is determined that few wild boars and almost no domesticated pigs are part of the nutrition in the Neolithic Age which is dated 6300 BC. However in the later layers which are dated Late Chalcolithic Age many domesticated pigs existed. A significant nutritional difference is detected between these two ages [Öztan-Gerritsen 2011:202]. The results of the organic residue analysis performed on 163 samples in 2012 show that 36 of them contain organic residue. Some cracked stones exposed to high temperature were found on the floors of the earliest level VIe that is characterized by thick walled, schist tempered wares. The studies yielded that one of the stone sample contains high amount of ruminant fat. Therefore, it is possible to suggest that these stones could have been used for cooking purposes during the period in which the heat resistant wares were not yet produced. These cracked stones were not encountered in the Level VId that is dated to 6500 BC. The pottery of this level is characterized by calcite tempered wares. It was observed that thin walled, pink and red colored, burnished potsherds obtained from this level mostly contain milk-borne residues. Milk-borne residues were also seen on more than half of the samples belonging to the thin walled, quartz tempered black wares found in Level VIb and VIa. The analyses indicate that the cooking tradition has changed between the levels of VIe and VId. In the Level VId, the cooking stones and / or clay balls seen in Level VIe were replaced by heat resistant wares [Özbal et al. 2013].

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