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750 m
Central Anatolia
Investigation Method:


Location: It is located at the entrance of the Sariçi Valley which is 8 km long; south of the rock-salt factory of Tekel; 5.5 km east of Balibagi Village; east of Çankiri Province.
Geography and Environment: The cemetery is located right across the mound of Sariiçi on the slopes next to the Magara Stream. It probably belongs to the settlement at Sariiçi Höyük. The name of the cemetery gives away that this place was used as a vineyard. The valley of Sariiçi is formed by a fault line extending in the northwest direction. The environment is rich in salt. The cemetery was disturbed by the treasure hunters before the scientific excavation. Although its borders could not be determined; the lower parts of the slope house more burials; and they decrease in number in the upper parts.
Research and Excavation: In order to prevent the damage and any loss of information; it was excavated by M. Süel between 1988 and 1990. The excavation team of 1990 was mainly concerned with the western trench which is 400 m northwest of the previous trench. This trench could not be combined with trench AA/A. Neither any excavation was not carried out at Sariiçi Höyügü nor was any information provided about the surface finds. The only information provided is that there was a small and continuous settlement consisting of 30-40 houses in this mound [Süel 1992:135]. It takes place in the registered archaeological sites list prepared by Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Stratigraphy: Depending on the graves overlapping each other; it is stated that the cemetery was in use for a long period of time. The excavator states that the burials dating from the same period were interred in two different levels [Süel 1991:206; Süel 1992:129]. This interpretation reveals that the burying practices were stopped for a while. In the upper level; particularly all cist graves are directed in the same way while in the other there are in mixed directions.
Small Finds: Human Remains: Following three years of excavations; it was reported that the pithos graves and cist graves were placed without any order inside the necropolis. There are simple pit burials as well. Just like the variety of graves; there is a variety of grave goods. A stone wall; 80 cm thick; was uncovered in the cemetery. The excavator believes that it is a cemetery wall or a burial house (?) wall. The wall in AA/A trench continues in saws. The wall in the western trench was also built by the same technique. The only difference is that it is supported by two long vertical walls (shores). It was probably to prevent the erosion on the slope which has a 30 degree declination. Both the cist and pithos graves were lined up disorderly next to the interior wall. The pithoi; 50-90 cm high; have flat bottoms; wide openings and double horizontal triangular handles. They are of coarse ware. Their surface is colored in buff; red or brown. The dead were buried after the pithos placed into the pit. The bronze pins indicate that the bodies were wrapped; and placed in semi-hocker or hocker position. After placing the grave goods in and around the pithos; the opening was capped by a stone lid. The cist graves were built by standing flat stone plates; and capped by similar lids. One wall of a cist grave on the eastern trench was carved into the bedrock. The number of pithos graves is more than cist graves. The burial technique is the same. Both cist and pithos graves house more than one burial. While doing this; the bones of the first burial were placed aside; and new burial was placed instead. Grave goods: Spouted pitchers are produce of the handmade; buff; black coloured or mottled red ware. Some have carinated bodies. One specific sample has; aside a vertical handle attached from the rim to the shoulder; two mutual triangular handles on the body. Besides handled vessels; there are vessels without handles as well. One has a flat bottom decorated with a swastika. They are well burnished; washed in dark red and claret. Two loop-handled bowls were found. Pithos K1 yielded a limestone idol under the chin of the burial. It has almost liked a rectangular shape. It measures 5.9x3.9 cm. Eyes and eyebrows were incised. The parallel lines on the chest symbolize a necklace. Two swastika figures were applied on its shoulders and sun motifs decorate the breasts. Square headed or mace headed pins used for shrouds or as hair clips and a fibula were recovered from these graves as well as some personal belongings of the dead such as anklet; ring and hair ring. There were thin golden plates next to the head of the dead in grave no. 1989/S-10. The exposure of bronze finds just like the golden finds with unidentified forms makes one think that they were part of other objects like leather; wood; etc. Grave no. 1989/DB-1 housed three buttons and jewellery which indicates that the dead were buried with clothes on[Süel 1991:208].
Interpretation and Dating: The Balibagi cemetery was probably the extramural cemetery of the settlement nearby (Sariiçi Höyügü). The inhabitants of EBA III presumably chose this slope for burials because it could not have been influenced by the stream beneath. According to Süel; the cemetery has a single cultural phase and it dates to the last quarter of the third millennium BC. without making any comparison with the other settlements in the north of the Central Anatolia region [Süel 1991:206]. The environment is surrounded with a salty land; only good for animal husbandry. The contemporary salt mine might have been used during EBA too. The intensity and variety of the grave goods expose that the choice between pithos graves and cist graves did not depend on the economical reasons. No 14C dating was taken from the cemetery. When the typical features of the finds are considered; they are datable to the end of the third millennium BC and beginning of the second millennium BC; in other words; to the end of EBA and beginning of MBA; so it is better to date them to the beginning of MBA. The finds are not as rich as Alacahöyük; Göller cemeteries; etc. It is unclear if it had a single cultural phase. The cemetery presumably was in use at the end of EBA III; and continued during MBA I.

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