Unglazed Medieval Pottery Found at the Şavşat Castle Excavation in 2016-2017Güler Yılmaz, Nurşen Özkul Fındık, Osman Aytekin
Şavşat Castle is located in Artvin Province, Şavşat District, Söğütlü neighbourhood. It is a subject of debate by which civilization the Şavşat Castle was built for the first time. However, life had continued uninterruptedly until mid-19th century. At the castle which has a mysterious history, archeologic excavation and restoration works started in 2009. During the excavations carried out at Şavşat Castle, a number of glazed and unglazed ceramic pieces were brought to light along with architectural remains and various small findings. Most of the ceramic findings consist of unglazed group. In this group, there are pieces of various types of vessels such as bowls, pots, cookers, bread trays, pitchers, jars, jugs, lids and chamber pots. Although a variety is seen in clay groups of the ceramics, there are mostly red clays. In this study, unglazed ceramics consisting of bowls, chamber pot, mugs, trays, lid, jars and jugs that were not found at the Şavşat Castle excavations between 2016-2017 were discussed. While the pieces discussed within the scope of this study are dated back to the 13th15th centuries, a large part of the ceramics were made during the reign of Christian Bagrationi dynasty who had a say in the governance of Şavşat Castle.
Şavşat Kalesi 2016-2017 Kazılarında Bulunmuş Olan Orta Çağ Dönemine Ait Sırsız SeramiklerGüler Yılmaz, Nurşen Özkul Fındık, Osman Aytekin
Şavşat Kalesi; Artvin ili, Şavşat ilçesi, Söğütlü Mahallesi’nde yer almaktadır. Şavşat Kalesi’nin ilk olarak hangi uygarlık döneminde inşa edildiği tartışma konusudur. Ancak 19. yüzyılın ortalarına kadar kale içinde yaşam kesintisiz devam etmiştir. Tarihi gizemli olan bu kalede arkeolojik kazı ve restorasyon çalışmaları 2009 yılında başlamıştır. Şavşat Kalesi’nde yapılan kazılarda mimari kalıntılar ile çeşitli küçük buluntuların yanı sıra çok sayıda sırlı ve sırsız seramik parçalar da gün yüzüne çıkartılmıştır. Seramik buluntuların çoğunluğunu sırsız grup oluşturmaktadır. Bu grupta kâse, çömlek, pişirme kabı, ekmek tepsisi, maşrapa, küp, testi, kapak ve lazımlık gibi değişik türden kaplara ait parçalar yer almaktadır. Seramiklerin hamur gruplarında çeşitlilik görülmekle beraber yoğunluğu kırmızı renkli hamur oluşturmaktadır. Bu çalışmada 2016-2017 yıllarına ait Şavşat Kalesi kazısında bulunmuş olan kâse, çömlek, maşrapa, tepsi, kapak, lazımlık, küp ve testiden oluşan sırsız seramikler ele alınmıştır. Bu seramikler 13.-15. yüzyıllara tarihlendirilmekle birlikte örneklerin büyük bölümü Şavşat Kalesi’nin yönetiminde söz sahibi olan Hristiyan Bagratlı sülalesi döneminde üretilmiştir.
A group of unglazed Georgian era ceramic in Şavşat Castle dated back to the 13th-15th centuries are discussed within the scope of this study. In the said period, Şavşat Castle was ruled by the Georgian Bagrationi Dynasty. The aim of the study is to introduce the Şavşat specimens of the lesser-known Georgian ceramic to the scientific world and emphasize the connection between the architectural texture and historical development of the castle in the light of the ceramic findings.
Excavation works that took approximately ten years in Şavşat Castle were carried out in twenty-six different locations. Ceramics found during the excavation works at the places that were labeled with the numbers 25 and 26 respectively in 2016 and unglazed ceramics found during the restoration works in 2017 were discussed in this study. The places 25 and 26 are adjacent. Those places are close to the northern wall of the castle. Ceramic findings present clues about the daily lifestyles, economic statuses, cultural-artistic characteristics, and even religious beliefs of the people who lived at Şavşat Castle.
Besides dark clays, light coloured clays such as yellow, grey, and cream are seen among the ceramic vessels at the castle. Thin walls draw attention to light coloured clays, while thick walls draw attention to dark coloured clays. Presence of two different clay textures and structures in this area is an indicator of two different ceramic groups as local and imported. While the ones which are coarse, mixed and with dark clay are local, the ones with smooth surface and light-coloured clay differ from the others with their quality workmanship and baking therefore they are imported to the area. As a result of our comparisons and evaluations, the vessels at Şavşat Castle must have been brought from Georgia through the Black Sea coastal trade. Although Şavşat Castle; which looks like a castle that might be considered as secluded in a rural area in the Middle Ages, is located in a closed basin; it is understood that it has road connections with Akhaltsikhe region of Georgia as well as a commercial connection with Batumi which has an important port. Especially because Batumi has direct advanced sociocultural and commercial connection with the region and it has sectarian affinity with the Byzantium, it strengthens the possibility that imported vessels were brought to Şavşat Castle as gifts or commercial goods.
Mostly bowl type ceramic vessels were found in the castle as a whole or in pieces. The Absence of pieces in plate form and finding mostly bowls, especially the ones with semi-spherical bodies, bring up the question whether they might have been used for drinking wine. Having found very few mug and cup pieces during the excavations also supports this thought. Or in connection with their food culture, it might bring up the question whether those deep vessels may have been used for stews.
Big jars (pitos); in which the wine, produced at the wine production workshop that was found at the castle, is stored, and matured; are again found as whole or almost whole. Apart from wine, grains may have been stored in those jars. Although it is not understood clearly whether the jars were made there or in another centre, discovering clay rolls in the same area and same colour and clay structure similar to other local ceramics constitutes strong evidence that they are made at the castle. As castles are defence structures at which it is required to be prepared for all kinds of attacks/adverse circumstances, it has been found clearly in the excavations that many places are used as storage areas at difficult times (enemy attack, siege, famine, etc.). In the areas which are qualified as cellars at Şavşat Castle, big jars are found buried in the ground, as well as smaller jars in some places in the middle parts of the castle. It is understood that these storage jars are covered with big flat stones or lids in the shape of round ceramic plates.
The specimens discussed within the scope of this study are dated back to the 13th-15th centuries based on the comparisons that were made. In addition, as the Bagrationi Dynasty was at the castle in that period, it strengthens the possibility that they have made and used the said ceramics. The monograms on bowls that are seen in the 12th-14th century architectural examples in Anatolia show that there is interaction among regions and cultures, and also the local, specific unglazed ceramic production and use in Şavşat indicate that the masters in Şavşat followed the art of the surrounding cultures in and outside the period’s Anatolia within the context of ceramic. Furthermore, as the life at the castle continued until the 19th century, some of those vessels have continued to be made and used in the following Turkish era, especially without too much change in their forms (jars, pileki, chamber pot, jug, pot). Using its trade road and its importance in military strategies, Şavşat Castle has become an important cultural centre. Silk Road from Tabriz to the West, to İstanbul and Trabzon and even sometimes the road from Crimea to the East have gone through Şavşat. Adding different sovereign powers to migrations and wars, the inevitability of interactions in the field of culture and arts can be seen clearly at Şavşat Castle.