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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Topographical and lithological maps of the Bereket area, with the locations of the corings carried out since 2004.
The pollen diagram from the Bereket Valley: note the cultivation of olive at this altitude above 1,400 meters above sea level in the right part of the picture.

Photos courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project. Click on images to enlarge.
by Marc Waelkens

Palynological Survey: Introduction

Over two seasons, palynologist D. Kaniewski of the Center for Archaeological Sciences continued his analysis of the pollen and other material obtained from cores extracted in 2005 in the intramontane basin of Bereket, on the southwestern edge of the territory of Sagalassos. Late Holocene vegetation and geomorphological history is currently being reconstructed based on 8 meter high-resolution pollen and sediment records from Bereket, now a semi-arid to sub-humid basin in the Western Taurus Mountains. The Bereket data from ca. 360 B.C. to ca. A.D. 400 gives us a unique record of landscape changes, primarily caused by intense human impact driven by global climate variations.

During this period, repeated episodes of fire and pressure by grazing and intensive agricultural practices profoundly altered the native warm, mixed forest. An increase in moisture since ca. 280 B.C. acted as a trigger for crop cultivation and mountain-adapted arboriculture, starting with the walnut Juglans regia during the Beysehir Occupation Phase. The start of this date corresponds approximately to Seleucid rule in the area, a rather prosperous period for Sagalassos. Olive orchards have been present here above 1,400 meters above sea level only since 20 B.C., and completely disappeared around A.D. 300. The first date corresponds with that of the second and final incorporation of the territory of Sagalassos into the Roman Empire (25 B.C.), which almost immediately led to a boom in farming. Consequently, farming settlements soon spread to the most outward-lying basins of the territory, including Bereket. During this phase the landscape instability, as reflected in the deposition rate, was extremely high. It is suggested that this upland olive cultivation also corresponds with the global Roman warming and aridification trend. From about A.D. 450 to the present, pasture and minor cultivation activities dominate in the region, as reflected by stable soils. Chronologically, this corresponds with a period of growing instability, during which the city seems to have given up the exploitation of part of its territory.


General location of the Bereket Valley in the territory of Sagalassos
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