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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
Magnetic anomalies indicating furnaces from the 2005 seasons
Magnetic anomalies indicate well-preserved features (furnaces?), comparable to those from last year (in the outlined circle on the left are the furnaces; to the right of them, a large iron dump.
The short black lines indicate magnetic dipoles, which significantly differ from the orientation expected from in situ archaeological artifacts. Checking on the spot of some of those spots confirmed that they indeed represent larger pieces of ultramafic rocks lying at the surface.

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

Archaeometallurgy: July 4-9, 2006

This season, the ancient ore-extraction site of Tekkeli Tepe, on the eastern slopes of the Canakli Basin, was again the subject of geophysical research. For four days, the team of Branko Music, Igor Medaric, and Jurij Soklic (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia), and Patrick Degryse and Nathalie Kellens (K.U. Leuven) continued the geophysical, geological and archaeological research that began in 2005 (Surveys, Archaeometallurgy, July 17-21, 2005). Prior to that year a detailed geochemical prospection had isolated this location as an iron production area. The olistostromes (sedimentary deposits containing a variety of materials) of the Bey Daglari Mountains, between the valleys of Canakli and Aglasun, five kilometers south of the ancient city of Sagalassos, show a mineralization of magnetite, a source of iron ore. Many traces of iron production have been found in the past, and ceramic finds date these activities to the early Byzantine period.

During previous campaigns, a hypothesis concerning the nature of the human activities at the site, and their chronology, was established on the basis of surface material. However, the actual spatial organization of the metallurgical activities in the Bey Daglari area (i.e., the subsurface structures) remained the subject of broader investigation. Therefore, one of the aims of the 2005/2006 survey season was to introduce and continue geophysical research in the area to gain spatial information on the presumed metal furnace installations and slag dumps.

Again, geophysical research produced good results. Magnetic anomalies, indicating well-preserved features, possibly furnaces, were detected during the 2005 field campaign. These features were used as references to estimate the archaeological potential of the whole surveyed area. In general, the magnetic gradients of the extended area are of the same magnitude as those from last year. The declination angle of the remnant magnetization is also comparable to that of previously detected furnaces. Besides archaeologically significant anomalies, some distortions produced by strongly magnetic materials, including ultramafic rocks, larger pieces of slag, and iron ore, are often encountered at sites associated with iron production activities. They can be easily "extracted" by magnetometry, based on magnetic dipoles orientations.

After this phase of work, we believe that we are dealing with a very large iron-smelting complex, with well-preserved furnaces or forges, which we also encountered on recently surveyed areas. For a more reliable interpretation we will introduce theoretical archaeophysical models based on archaeological analogies and expectations, to be compared with the empirical data sets. It seems that the iron ore was initially smelted near the ore deposits themselves, after which the semi-purified metal was taken to the city, where a group of secondary melting places seem to have been located to the south of the Hellenistic walls. From there, the metal was taken to smiths throughout the city, who further treated and shaped it.

The same morphological classification system was applied, as was the case during the 2005 season, and revealed somewhat surprising results this time. Unfortunately, our results were not huge quantities of material, but a complete absence of surface material in the grids set out for the 2006 geophysical research.

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