Avkat Archaeological Project
Archaeological survey of a provincial Byzantine urban settlement in central Anatolia
The site of late ancient and medieval Euchaïta, on the northern edge of the central Anatolian plateau, was the centre of the cult of St Theodore Tiro ('the Recruit'). Unlike most excavated or surveyed urban centres of the Byzantine period, Euchaïta was never a major metropolis, cultural centre or extensive urban site, although it had a military function from the 7th – 9th century. Its significance lies precisely in the fact that as a small provincial town, something of a backwater, it was probably more typical of the 'average' provincial Anatolian urban settlement, yet almost nothing is known about such sites.
The archive serves two functions: as a complement to the project publication (Haldon, Elton, and Newhard, eds. Archaeology and Urban Settlement in Late Roman and Byzantine Anatolia: Investigating the History of Euchaita-Avkat-Beyözü and its Environment . Cambridge University Press) and as a repository for the original field and main derivative data. As a complement to the publication, the archive contains supplemental maps and imagery. As a repository, the datasets consist of spatial, tabular, and image data collected in the field between 2007 and 2009. The datasets consist specifically of intensive, controlled survey data; non-systematic (extensive) reconnaissance observations; post-field geospatial analysis; ceramic analyses; and all field images.
Methods, Significance, and Usability
Intensive pedestrian survey consisted of employing teams of 4-5 fieldwalkers walking through survey units at intervals of 15 meters. Survey units (also commonly known as transects in other projects) were demarcated according to modern field boundaries or other physical markers on the landscape. Field collections consisted of ceramics considered to be diagnostic (decorated ceramics and sherds that contained a diagnostic vessel part, such as a base, rim, or handle) and all other objects deemed indicative of human activity.
In addition, the project employed the 'observation point' method of data recording. As fieldwalkers traversed on their bearing within the survey unit, they were required to subtotal counts of artifacts every 15 meters. The result was the equivalence of a rough 15 m grid across a given survey unit, where each point of data held the count of ceramics, tile, chipped stone, and other artifacts observed in that 15-meter stretch of space. Since each point is given a unique identifier, this method allows for the removal of survey unit boundaries; in terms of the overall artifactual distribution, the observation point is the base level unit of analysis, mitigating the distributional distortions brought about through the arbitrary size and shape of survey units.
Areas of interest, either by virtue of a spatially interesting configuration of artifacts or singular items of potential significance, were provided with unique feature numbers. In the field, such features were recorded on standardized forms and provided a spatial reference via hand-held GIS systems. Identification of spatially interesting configurations of artifacts was largely achieved via post-processing, employing a combination of kernel density functions and spatial clustering (Anselin Local Moran's I function).
In addition to intensive pedestrian survey, the Avkat Archaeological Project documented evidence of ancient remains in the villages of Beyözü and Elmapınar. Within this component, individual objects (consisting mostly of elements of architectural spolia) were given individual feature numbers, provided with a geospatial reference, and a full description via standardized forms. The project permit permitted only publication of Roman and later material, though earlier material was recorded and identified and so can be found in the database.
Further detailed discussions of the project’s methods and post-processing can be found in published reports of the project, in particular Newhard et al. (2013) and Haldon, Elton, and Newhard (2018).
Significance and Usability
The project holds significance in two ways:
- The survey’s research focus is on the Medieval rural Anatolian landscape, a topic which has received little attention prior to the 21st century. Data pertaining to landscape use are therefore relevant for understanding long-term transformations in rural society, as well as broader implications for socio-economic and political systems of organization.
- In terms of method, the project employed hyper-intensive survey which, when combined with geospatial postprocessing, enabled the identification of landscape activity. While significant concentrations of material served as a proxy for recurring or intensive activity (identified as ‘Features’), much of this process was the result of geospatial modeling. Thus, while the interpretations of the project members are published and available for scrutiny, the base data employed remain ‘raw’ and available for use by others. Because of the hyper-intensive methods, the data are easily conformed to other methods used in Mediterranean survey, enabling the data to be potentially integrated with other surveys to derive larger syntheses of human activity.
Survey Unit Tables and Objects
There are 5 primary tables to the project:
- Observation Points (OPs) record the quantity of ceramic, tile, chipped stone, architecture, or other material identified by a fieldwalker within a 15 x 2 m section within a survey unit. OPs are the base units that measure artifact density across the project area. OPs are named by an agglomeration of the survey unit number, the letter representing the transect walked, and a 2-digit number. Thus, S2345-A04 would be the 4th observation point recorded in line A of survey unit 2345. This unique identifier allows the entire survey area to be mapped with the density of observed artifacts to a resolution of 15 meters. Subsequently, this allows for concentrations of artifact to be identified that cross survey unit boundaries and that are found within survey units.
- Survey Units (SUs) were demarcated according to modern field boundaries or other physical markers on the landscape. The Survey Unit table records environmental data related to the unit (visibility, agriculture usage, light quality), the names of the fieldwalkers assigned to each transect, and a summed count of artifacts by class which is aggregated from the SU’s OP data.
- Sherdcounts_date records the number of sherds attributed to specific periods and date ranges to given features and survey units.
- Sherdcounts_vesselpart records the parts of vessels (rim, handle, body, etc.) identified for given features and survey units.
- Sherdcounts_vesseltype records the types of vessels (fineware, coarseware, storage, cooking, etc.) identified for given features and survey units.
It needs to be noted that OP data represent the number of artifacts observed in the field, regardless of their diagnostic value. Diagnostic sherds (rims, handles, bases, decorated pieces) and all non-ceramic artifacts were collected and ascribed to their given Survey Unit. Thus, the OP data present a general density of artifacts in the project area, while chronological and functional data are found at the survey unit resolution. For further information on how these data, recorded at disparate scales of resolution, were used to identify chronologically discrete areas of activity, see Chapter 3 and Appendix B of Haldon, Elton, and Newhard (2018).
Spatial datasets were uploaded to OpenContext in .json (vector) and .tif (raster) file formats, using the FGDC standard for metadata. For vector attribute table definitions and parameters used for kernel densities, consult the associated metadata. Data projection: WGS 1984.
Spatial datasets include:
- observation_points : vector point. See description under 'Survey Unit Table and Objects'.
- survey_units : vector polygon. See description under 'Survey Unit Table and Objects'.
- features_intensive survey : vector polygon. Polygon data demarcating the features identified via the post-processing of intensive survey data for the Avkat Archaeological Project.
- avkat_dbo_features : vector point. Point data demarcating the features identified during extensive (village) survey.
- dens_tile : raster. Kernel density of tile data, based upon the observation point data collected by fieldwalkers.
- dens_ceramic : raster. Kernel density of ceramic data, based upon the observation point data collected by fieldwalkers.
The survey was undertaken via a permit under the aegis of the British Institute at Ankara, granted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey (T.C. Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı) and in cooperation with the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum of Corum (Çorum Arkeoloji ve Etnografya Müzesi).
The project was generously supported via the following institutional resources:
Princeton University: The History Department and the Departments of Near Eastern Studies, Classics, Art History and Archaeology, the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies, the Center for the Study of Late Antiquity and the Dean of Research all invested significantly and over the life of the project in both intellectual and financial support.
College of Charleston: Financial support was received by the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs; the Faculty Research and Development Fund; the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Program; the Office of the Provost; the Department of Classics; the Program in Archaeology; and the Center for Historical Landscapes. Geospatial processing and other informatics occurred at the Santee-Cooper GIS Laboratory and the Center for Social Science Research.
See below (related publications): Haldon, Elton, and Newhard (eds.) 2018; Newhard et al. 2013.
Potential Applications of the Data
The data from the Avkat Archaeological Project are useful for researchers investigating diachronic change in Mediterranean, particularly from the Late Roman to modern age. The collection also presents a dataset helpful for assessing differing methods of intensive pedestrian survey collection and post-processing.
Current Disposition of the Physical Collection
Artifacts are curated by the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum of Corum (Çorum Arkeoloji ve Etnografya Müzesi), a part of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey (T.C. Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı). Artifacts are labeled according to survey unit (S-NNNN) or feature (FNNNN).
Çorum Arkeoloji ve Etnografya Müzesi
Gülabi Bey Mahallesi Müze Sokak No: 1
tel : +90 (364) 212 05 10
Paper records are archived at the British Institute at Ankara.
British Institute at Ankara
Atatürk Bulvarı 154
tel: +90 (312) 427 54 87
The bibliography below provides a list of Avkat-related publications, published up to the initial publication of this dataset.
Bikoulis, P., H. Elton, J. Haldon, and J. Newhard. 2015. "Above as Below: Application of Multiple Survey Techniques at a Byzantine Church at Avkat." In K. Winther-Jacobsen and L. Summerer (eds.) Landscape and settlement dynamics in Northern Anatolia in the Roman and Byzantine Period (Geographica Historica). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag. Pp. 101-117.
Elton, H., J. Haldon, J. Newhard, and P. Bikoulis 2012. "Avkat Arkeoloji Projesi, 2007-2009." Çorum Kazı ve Araştırmalar Sempozyum, 2. Çorum. Pp. 203-218.
Haldon, J., H. Elton, and J. Newhard (eds.) 2018. Archaeology and Urban Settlement in Late Roman and Byzantine Anatolia: Investigating the History of Euchaita-Avkat-Beyözü and its Environment. Cambridge University Press. DOI: 10.1017/ 9781108557757.
Haldon, J., H. Elton, and J. Newhard. 2017. “Euchaita,” in Ph. Niewöhner (ed.) Handbook of Byzantine Archaeology of Anatolia. From the End of Late Antiquity to the Coming of the Turks. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
2015 “Euchaita,” in S. Steadman and G. McMahon (eds.) The Archaeology of Anatolia: Recent Discoveries (2011-2014). Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Pp. 332-355.
2011 "The Avkat Archaeological Project, 2011." Heritage Turkey 1: 35-36.
2010 "The Avkat Archaeological Project, 2010" Anatolian Archaeology. 16:16-17.
2009 "The Avkat Archaeological Project, 2009" Anatolian Archaeology. 15
2008 "The Avkat Archaeological Project, 2007-2008 seasons" Anatolian Archaeology. 14
Haldon, J., H. Elton, J. Newhard and S. Lockwood. 2009. "Avkat Archaeological Project, 2007-2008" Arıştırma Sonuçları Toplantısı. 27.3: 29-50.
Newhard, J., N. Levine, A.D. Phebus, J. Littlefield, and S. Craft. 2013. "A Geoinformatic Approach to the Collection of Archaeological Survey Data." Cartography and Geographic Information Science 40: 3-17. DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2013.762139.
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