Anthropomorphic Vessels from the Old Smyrna Bayraklı Mound and Their Meaning in the Bronze Age of the West Anatolia RegionGülnur Eroğlu, Aylin Ümit Erdem
Archaeological excavations since 2017 of Bayraklı Mound in Old Smyrna in the western trenches have presented significant evidence of the period between the end of the Early Bronze Age and the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age. The trench is characterized by three archaeological layers, with Layer I providing some sherds related to anthropomorphic vessels containing stylized human faces and dating back to the transition from the Early to the Middle Bronze period. The anthropomorphic samples are represented by a small number of sherds with different forms and features. This article discusses the anthropomorphic vessel sherds from Layer I of the Bayraklı Mound in terms of their forms, decorations, and features and makes some comparisons with other Bronze Age sites in the West Anatolia Region. Accordingly, general interpretations have been made about the location of the Bayraklı samples in the West Anatolia Region.
İzmir-Bayraklı Höyüğü’nde Bulunan Antropomorfik Kap Parçaları ve Batı Anadolu Tunç Çağ Arkeolojisindeki YeriGülnur Eroğlu, Aylin Ümit Erdem
Bayraklı Höyüğü (Eski Smyrna) kazıları çerçevesinde 2017 yılından itibaren “Batı Açmaları”nda yürütülen çalışmalarda Erken Tunç Çağ sonu ve Orta Tunç Çağ başlangıcına tarihlenen veriler açığa çıkarılmıştır. Başlıca 3 mimari yapı katıyla temsil edilen alanın, Erken-Orta Tunç Çağ geçiş dönemine tarihlenen I. Tabaka’sından ele geçen seramik bulguları içinde antropomorfik (insan yüzlü) kap parçalarına rastlanmıştır. Söz konusu tabakadan elde edilen seramik repertuvarı içinde az sayıda örnekle temsil edilen insan yüzlü kapların, farklı tipte ve özellikteki kaplardan oluştuğu dikkati çekmektedir. Bu makalede, Bayraklı’nın I. Tabakasında bulunan antropomorfik kaplar, form, mal ve bezeme özellikleri açısından değerlendirilerek Batı Anadolu’daki diğer Tunç Çağ merkezlerinde bulunan örneklerle karşılaştırma yoluna gidilmiştir. Buna göre Bayraklı’daki örnekler, form ve bezeme açısından ele alınarak Batı Anadolu arkeolojisindeki yeri üzerine bir değerlendirme yapılmıştır.
The Bayraklı Mound of Smyrna (Ancient İzmir) is located in the Bayraklı District of Turkey’s İzmir Province. The first systematic excavations were conducted by J. Cook and E. Akurgal between 1948-1951. Afterwards, E. Akurgal directed the excavations between 1966- 1992 and M. Akurgal between 1993-2013. Most recently, the area has been excavated since 2014 under the direction of C. Tanrıver from Ege University.
Although Bayraklı Mound has been excavated since 1948, the layers dating to the Bronze Age settlement are less known. The only excavation from the Early Bronze Age layer was carried out in “Trench E” in 1949, the findings of which E. Akurgal later published as a short report. According to this report, the earliest settlement of Bayraklı was dated to 3000 BC based on architectural remains and pottery finds. The new period of excavations has been conducted in the area of the western trenches in order to understand the Early Bronze Age layers in a wider framework. Layer I has been dated to the transition period from the Early to the Middle Bronze Age and is represented by rectangular structures with stone foundations. The pottery obtained from this layer have presented different wares and forms related to the period and are also known to come from Bronze Age layers of other sites in the West Anatolia Region. A group of anthropomorphic vessel sherds in the pottery collection constitute the main theme of this article.
A total of six anthropomorphic vessel sherds were found in Layer I and dated to the transition period from the Early to the Middle Bronze Age. As is well known, anthropomorphic vessels can be divided into two main categories based on whether their decorations bear only a human face or a human body and face. The best examples with a human face and body together are known to have come from Troy, Limantepe, and Seyitömer. Because no complete vessel has yet been found, whether the Bayraklı Mound samples are decorated with a human body that includes the chest and arms or not remains unclear. The sherds that have been found are solely decorated with stylized human faces, including the eyes and nose. The eyes were made as circular reliefs, while the noise had been made as a vertical line relief before the firing of the vessels. The two main ware groups are observed as brown slipped wares and red slipped wares. The clay inclusions consist of sand, small pebble, mica, and lime. The burnishing has been observed to be of a low quality, with most sherds generally being unburnished. Similar anthropomorphic vessels are known to have come from settlements in the West Anatolia Region such as Troy, Aphrodisias, Karataş-Semayük, Seyitömer, Kumtepe, Bakla Tepe, Limantepe, Kocabaş Tepe, Çeşme-Bağlararası, Laodikeia/Asopos Tepesi, and Beycesultan (see map).
The stratigraphic results from the settlements in West Anatolia indicate anthropomorphic vessels to have been especially common during the end of the Early Bronze Age to the Middle Bronze Age. They continued to be used during the Late Bronze Age, but with a sharp decrease. According to the analysis of the anthropomorphic vessels found in West Anatolia, some chronological differences can be suggested based on vessel form and design. Anthropomorphic vessels with stylized human faces dating to the Early Bronze Age generally consist of small- and/or medium-sized vessels, as seen in Troy and Kumtepe. However, the size of the anthropomorphic vessels dating to the Middle Bronze Age at Limantepe and Çeşme-Bağlararası are larger than the Early Bronze Age ones. When taking the size of the vessel into consideration, the anthropomorphic vessel fragments from Bayraklı Mound reflect both Early and Middle Bronze Age traditions.
The stylized human face decorations on vessels from the Early and Middle Bronze Ages also differ from each other. The Early Bronze Age figures from Troy and Kumtepe were made more round, while the Middle Bronze Age ones are more detailed.
The meanings in the anthropomorphic vessel traditions in Anatolia, which date back to the Neolithic period, are explained as a reflection of the belief system related to female symbolism and fertility. Similar perceptions would likely have continued during the Bronze Ages as well. Although the meanings of anthropomorphic vessels are not yet known with certainty, this tradition clearly survived in Anatolia from the Neolithic to the end of the Bronze Ages. The Bayraklı Mound sherds reflect the continuation of the same tradition and/ or belief system during the Early and Middle Bronze Ages.