The Potter's Quarter: July 27-August 14
After three weeks the excavations in the Potters' Quarter are complete and the most important results will be shortly discussed here. The excavations were carried out by E. Murphy and R. Willet under the supervision of Prof. J. Poblome and with the excellent help of the Turkish excavation crew, consisting of eref Bozkurt, Mehmet Ucak, Hasan Goeze, Ismail Goekcen, and Ahmet Oez. A few tasks concerning the conservation, restoration and documentation of the Potters' Quarter remain and will be carried out in the next few weeks. Still it is possible to review some preliminary findings and conclusions based on the excavations, but one must be wary that the finds, of which there are many, are still in need of being scrutinized in more detail. This will undoubtedly reveal even more detail on the dynamics of the working processes of the researched complex.
At the end of the first week two major finds were made which shed more light on the remote sensing data provided by the geophysics team. On these data two anomalies were detected in the centre and south of trench 1. The centre anomaly turned out to be a potters' kiln of oval shape, measuring 1.00 x 0.70 m and was excavated unto a depth of 0.75 m. (beyond this level only remains of lime-burning were found, which was decided to leave in situ for the moment. This lime burning represents the last function of the kiln.) The fill of the kiln consisted of many tile fragments which represent the collapse of construction material of the kiln. But the remains of the ceramics cassettes, in which the unfired pottery was placed during firing, were found in enormous amounts as well. This kiln is the largest one found in the entire complex. The second discovery was that the southern anomaly was not the second expected kiln, but was in fact a coring drill which apparently became stuck in the bedrock during a geological expedition in 2003. This drill is the largest metal find of the entire excavation (although a Roman pick-axe, found in one of the discovered spaces, became an honourable second with 25 cm!)
Apart from the kiln, several walls which made up approximately 7 individual spaces were discovered. These became especially clear when a second trench was started, east of our first trench. In two of these spaces, Space 5 (ca. 3.50 m x 4.50 m) & 6 (ca. 3.50 m x 3.00 m) , the clearest evidence of potters' workshop activity were uncovered. In these spaces floor deposits were discovered which yielded finds of considerable academic and aesthetic value: complete mould used for the production of figurines, bowls and lamps were uncovered by the dozen. But also the tools, such as figurative stamps to make the moulds were found. These stamps were often motives, but in several cases they represented spear-bearing warrior figures. And especially in Space 6, which was a room divided in two by a short (2.00 x 0.30 x 0.50 m) protruding wall, the south-eastern section seems to have been a refuse or storage of production material : 7 complete mould, 3 complete lamps, parts of figurines and "oinophoroi" (a decorated of ceramic flask) were found (mostly dating to the Late Roman period (5th - 7th century AD)). Also metal and worked-bone were among the finds, which represent the potters' tools. In another space discovered in the north of trench one, a few niches in a dividing wall were discovered, which could very well have acted as shelves or as a cupboard. The interesting fact is the height of these niches, which suggest a floor level considerable lower than the surrounding spaces. This space and another adjacent space were probably much lower and could have had a 'cellar'-like function. In these rooms complete figurines and nearly complete lamps as well as mould were found.
All the spaces are oriented along a main wall of considerable thickness (0.50 to 0.70) running from the north-west in trench one to the south-east (some 15.00 m length). In this wall the kiln was built. The thickness of the wall could suggest a roof or portico-carrying capacity. Also the finds of a column-drum placed in the centre of the western section of Space 6 hints toward a roof of some sort. It must be noted however that most of the walls making up the spaces are less thick than the main wall (between 0.30 to 0.50 m). Further study of the walls and the structure of the entire complex will have to decide on the roofing of the structure. In conclusion it is clear that the excavation has revealed workshop and most likely 'coroplast' (manufacture of moulded ceramics, i.e. figurines, vessels and lamps) area, which adds nicely to our knowledge from the 2004 excavations, which revealed mostly kiln area. Further excavations in the coming years will undoubtedly reveal even more workshop area.