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Flat Settlement
1200 m
Central Anatolia
Investigation Method:


Location: It is located south-southwest of the Yalincak Köyü; 14 km southwest of the Ankara Province. It lies on the road running to Taspinar; Hacilar; Gavurkalesi and Haymana from Ankara. The name Ahlatlibel is the local name given by the villagers because of the "ahlat" (wild pear) trees in the area. Although during the 2008 ODTÜ Survey the location of the settlement was assumed as approximately 2 km west of Koçumbeli, the exact spot could not be identified. Since a large section in the area was filled with soil deposit just recently, the findspot is presently underneath this deposit [Bertram-Bertram 2010:387].
Geography and Environment: The remains identified as "Castle" stand on a ridge overlooking the wide valley covered with soft inclining hills and somewhat protected from the southeastern winds. The spring called "Giyim Pinari" originating from the bottom of a rock which is 500 m on the northwest probably supplied water to the inhabitants. The rocks near the remains bear traces of moved rocks. It is probable that those quarry stones were used for the foundation of the buildings. The castle most probably belonged to a ruler. It is cited as an "upland settlement" in some publications.
Research and Excavation: It was discovered by coincidence during a survey aimed to determine all the tumuli in the vicinity of Ankara in 1933; and excavated under H.Z. Kosay the same year with the permission of M. Kemal Atatürk. The excavation was carried out totally instead of trenching. Ahlatlibel being the first site excavated in the history of Turkish Republic has been one of the rare Turkish excavation sites visited by M. Kemal Atatürk. Survey was started by METU in 2006 [Bertram-Ilegzi 2009:241]. Researches were performed in scope of ODTÜ Survey by Ilgezi-Bertram and J.K. Bertram to find Ahlatlibel in the environs, but the exact location could not be spotted [Bertram-Bertam 2010:387].
Stratigraphy: The cultural deposit is ca. 4 m thick. H.Z. Kosay reports the presence of three building levels. This commentary depends on the three floors uncovered in a building to west of the castle; and the existence of foundations each facing different directions below the foundation of the upper structure shown in the plan. J. Yakar; on the other hand; claims that there are two building levels [Yakar 1985:195]. To which architecture the sherds recovered from the surface and introduced as "from the Early Hittite period" by the excavator belong is unclear. No explanation is available regarding this in the excavation report.
Small Finds: Architecture: The settlement consists of a fortified building with a basket-handle-like projection on the east. The untreated rocks in the surrounding area were used for the foundation of the structure. The construction technique is unelobarate. The plan exposes an elliptical courtyard in the centre and many small rooms encircling the courtyard. Some rooms are bigger than others. Other than living rooms; there are many silos for storing grains. Those silos yielded lots of millstones and grain residues. On the east lies a fortification or a tower projection. The whole structure measures ca. 30x40 m in dimensions. The courtyard houses; aside fireplaces; small silos. The entrance to the courtyard is from the small aperture on the west. In order to keep this passage under control; it was constructed in zigzags. The presence of elaborately constructed floors indicates that some rooms were used both as atelier and living room. The flat roofs of the outer rooms of which the outer walls probably functioned like fortifications could have been used as walkways. The single storey building is suggested to have mudbrick walls and a flat roof. Pottery: Lots of sherds and intact vessels of the handmade; straw or plant tempered; burnished ware with a thin paste; exteriorly and interiorly red or black surfaces; interiorly red and exteriorly black surfaces or vice versa were found. They are underfired. Some vessels bear flat knobs or lugs on the handles. On bigger vessels; these knobs are double; one on top of the other. Some handles are overhangs. Some are decorated with incision or groove. The finds recovered from the deep during the excavation are identical to the ones recovered from the surface. Exposure of lots of small bowls led to different interpretations such as use for religious purposes. The spouted and unspouted jugs of the red ware are a subversion of the spouted pitchers. Other forms include bowls with and without handles and pithoi. A distinctive group of Ahlatlibel is exteriorly/interiorly black washed; burnished ware. Some of them were decorated at the bottom in beams radiating from a center. It is certain that they are imitations of the metallic bowls. The researches performed in 2008 in scope of ODTÜ Survey also covered the sherds at Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi (Anatolian Civilisations Museum). The most common form is the shallow small bowls without decorations. Besides, the beak shaped spouted jugs, the cups and bowls are also among common forms. Decorations consisting of complicated flutes on vessels with black burnished surfaces are encountered [Bertram-Bertram 2010:387-388]. Clay: Many examples of terra cotta objects; with a hole in the middle; mostly decorated; in various sizes called spindle-whorl in the archeological literature; were recovered. Some are too small to function like a spindle-whorl. A spindle whorl attached to a neck ring indicates the fact that those objects could have had some other functions. The button-like seals expose the presence of trading. The likes of the decorations on the stamp face of the seals are also seen on the terra cotta idols. Plenty of idols called "Ankara group" was recovered from Ahlatlibel. Vast majority of them is the disc-headed violin-shaped idol. The eyes of those idols are mostly prominent. Some were attempted to bear dress patterns by incised bands. The breasts of these goddess figures are depicted in small excisions. Only a few of them is depicted with a female organ. Some resemble the ones found in the EBA settlements of Kültepe Karahöyük and Alisar Höyük besides the mounds of the Ankara region. The idols are usually so small that one can carry them with him/her. Chipped Stone: The flint blades dominated the industry of that period. The tools include side scrapers; end scrapers; saws; arrowheads and blades. Plenty of idols recovered expose the importance of religious elements. Ground Stone: There are many polished maces with shafts; hammer axes; axes with thick shafts and flat axes. The presence of grinding stones indicates that they used to grind grains at this location. There are spindle-whorls made of stone as well. Some are decorated. Bone/Antler: There are awls and pins made of knockles and ribs. A bone amulet and a hammer made of deer horn are similar to the other EBA finds in that area. A bone cut on both ends was probably used as a handle for a copper/bronze awl. Human remains: The eighteen graves that are found determine a tradition of intramural cemetery. The types of graves are pithos and cist graves. They were usually buried inside the buildings; under the floors; on the corners; and outside the buildings. Out of 8 pithos graves; 7 were found inside the rooms. All the dead were buried in hocker position. Skeletons; heads facing the west and the legs oriented toward the east; were found disarticulated; for some reason. The mouth of the pithos graves were capped by big stones. The grave no.11 is ringed by a stone wall. All of the 5 cist graves were capped with 5-6 pieces of flat stones [Özgüç 1948:33; pic.62-63]. The walls were built with extreme care. Both adult and the child burials were interred into the graves. Grave goods: The dead were usually buried with some ornamental objects and the goods they used to carry. According to T. Özgüç; the grave goods left for both men and women are the same; and no discrimination was made [Özgüç 1948:34]. Among all; the grave no. 10 is particularly interesting with its finds. Belonging to a female; it yielded a golden ring; a copper/bronze collar; a bracelet; a copper dagger; and a copper axe. In the cist grave identified as no. 8 and 9; a female and a male skeleton were found. The woman wears a bracelet. The man has a copper axe; a pin; and an intact vessel left next to him. The graves are dating from the EBA II in parallel with the settlement. The above mentioned pithos graves yielded many metallic finds. Most are in copper/bronze. Also a small amount of lead and golden finds is available. Objects like riveted and unriveted daggers; flat axes; axes with shafts; collars with tie holes; anklets; pins; sherds; and beads were found. The dagger left to the grave no. 6 was bent probably in order to prevent any re-use or stealing.
Interpretation and Dating: Ahlatlibel houses a ruler's mansion possibly from EBA II and III . With his family and servants he used to live in this mansion and collect all the grains from the peasants and stock them in his silos. The presence of spindle-whorls and looms exposes that the weaving was also performed in this building. The huge number of spindle-whorls recovered supports this interpretation. Although it is known that the structure had been renewed several times; the occupation dates are indefinite. It is suggested that the cist graves enriched with grave goods belong to the family of the ruler; and the other graves to the servants. The recent surveys conducted by S. Omura in the vicinity of Ankara resulted in the discovery of new settlements similar to the ones at Ahlatlibel; Etiyokusu and Kocumbeli. The researches performed in 2008 in scope of ODTÜ Survey also covered the sherds at Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi (Anatolian Civilisations Museum), and it was found that establishing a relation with the decorations on vessels from Alacahöyük graves and some vessel sherds observed both in Ahlatlibel and Koçumbeli was considered as possible. The similarity of Koçumbeli and Ahlatlibel finds, suggests either these settlements were comtemporary or dated to adjacent periods. Based on present aspect both findspots may be dated to middle of 3rd Millennium BC. Sherds from both settlements are in parallell with the sherds from the findspots in the west of Ankara [Bertram-Bertram 2010:388].

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