Kınık Höyük
Archaeological Project





The Citadel Wall in 2011

The first campaign of excavations at Kınık Höyük lasted from August to October 2011. Three operations were opened, labeled A, B and C, following the results of the geophysical survey performed in 2010. In particular, Operations A and C investigated the citadel walls, on the northern and south-western slopes of the mound respectively, while Operation B was opened on the top of the mound, aiming to investigate extensively the large stone structure indicated by the GPR.

In 2011, Operation B consisted of three squares of 10x10 meters, forming a rectangle oriented north-south measuring 300m 2 in total. The 2011 excavation campaign uncovered two levels, characterized by stone architecture dating to the Medieval Period.

The first level is represented by one room found on the eastern edge of the central square. Few materials were found in the soil accumulations associated with this room though, and because the soil is so close to the surface, its precise dating is speculative.

The second level consists of remains of domestic architecture and an open working area. The architecture is constructed of two-row walls, which are 70-90 cm. thick and preserved for a height of about 50 cm. They are quite irregular, and use unshaped stones without any use of binders. In the northern square, the stone walls defining two rooms of a building are easily discernible; the eastern room with a surface of nine square meters has been entirely excavated until we reached a hard clay floor. In the northern part of the eastern wall a well-preserved doorway opened toward an alley oriented north-south, dividing this building from another one. In this alley beside the doorway a tandır associated with the building was found. Here and elsewhere several modern pits cut the architecture: these occasionally caused difficulties in the collection of homogeneous assemblages of materials. The central and southern sector of Operation B is characterized by retaining walls and installations, whose functions are difficult to understand. Ceramics found in this level can be dated to the Medieval Period. The dating is supported by the comparison with the excavations of the medieval levels at nearby excavations of Tyana Kemerhisar, and we owe this information to a strong cooperation between the two missions. However, assemblages are rarely homogeneous and Hellenistic sherds are found in most of Operation B’s stratigraphic units. In addition to the operation on the top of the mound, two operations, labeled A and C, were opened on the slopes of the mound.

Necklace from Op. A

Operation A occupies the northern side just above the edge of a huge pit used in modern times as a stone quarry for building materials. Since the geomagnetic survey did not show the presence of citadel walls in this area, we assumed that they had been removed while digging in the quarry. Thus our goal in this operation was to obtain a stratigraphic window into the earliest levels of the mound. After removing the topsoil, we reached an accumulation of repositioned mud-bricks. Here, a pit was cut in order to accommodate a small jar containing a necklace made of glass beads of different colors, sizes and shapes. The glass beads are all rod-shaped and decorated with colored applique bands or pellets. Apart from some eye beads, whose production is already well attested in the second millennium BC, most of them find good parallels in productions ranging from the Middle Iron Age down to the first century BC.

Under the thick accumulation of repositioned mud-bricks, we found a stone masonry belonging to the citadel’s fortification wall. This massive east-west structure is over four meters wide. Upon this discovery our strategy changed, and a two-meter wide sounding perpendicular to the outer face of the citadel wall was opened in order to investigate the slope’s stratigraphy.

At the end of the campaign more than five meters of the outer face of the wall were exposed, and the foundations of the walls were not yet reached. Two main phases of this wall were identified. The later phase is built with the “Schalenmauer” technique: inner and outer faces are made of larger unshaped stones, whereas the stones in the center of the wall are smaller, rarely exceeding a diameter of about thirty to thirty-five centimeters. A clay mortar was used to stabilize the structure.

On the outer face of the wall a ten-centimeter thick layer of mud plastering with vegetal inclusions was preserved. The adherence of this coating to the stone face of the walls was possibly implemented by small wooden logs, organized in six irregular horizontal rows. These wooden elements would have protruded from the wall’s surface in the plastering. This reconstruction is based on the presence of wood remnants inside the holes, which are still preserved in the plaster. Similar wall plastering has been detected elsewhere in fortification walls of pre-classical Anatolia, but the example from Kınık Höyük is noteworthy, because of its exceptional state of preservation. About three meters below the top of the wall there is a slanting clay rampart associated with the wall plaster, under which two more meters of stone masonry, representing the earlier phase of the wall, were exposed. These rows, however, are constructed from slightly smoothed blocks with diameters of about 50-60 centimeters, and are not covered by plastering. The profile shows that an edge of this earlier phase projects for about 1.30 meters beyond the wall face of the later phase. The eastern face of a second north-south wall was exposed in the western section of the sounding. This wall works with the earlier phase of the citadel walls, and shares its characteristic large dimensions and working of the face blocks.

The citadel walls were also investigated in operation C, on the southwestern slope of the mound. In order to keep the walls in the best state of preservation, in view of its stabilization, four soundings were opened instead of one extensive excavation area. In each sounding a similar situation emerged: uphill levels, which abut or work with the inner face of the citadel stone walls; the citadel walls, covering the central part of the soundings; and finally, the downhill levels, which abut on the outer face of the wall. The wall’s building technique and dimensions are the same as those of the walls excavated in operation A, and the dimensions and the smoothing of the blocks on the outer face possibly indicate that they belong to the earlier phase attested in A. Since the downhill levels were investigated in operation A, investigations in C were mainly concentrated on the uphill levels in order to understand the relationship between the wall and the stratigraphy of the inner citadel. Uphill stratigraphy in all of the soundings presents a series of one to three clay floors, often associated with mud-brick or stone architectural remains. The ceramic repertoire of the different floors is quite homogenous and can be primarily dated to the Middle to Late Iron Age. The finest piece of pottery found in Operation C is a fragment of a carinated cup with an applied deer motif. The decorative technique used on this sherd is unusual: it is not the normal painted ware, but figures were shaped, moulded or even possibly cut out, applied to the cup and then painted. The deer motif represented in a clear silhouette style is strongly reminiscent of the silhouette deer iconography on the Alishar IV production, well known from many sites of Central Anatolia.

In sounding 3 a thick layer of collapsed mudbrick was partially covering the upper section of the citadel wall and collapsed inward. The context indicates that these mudbricks constituted the superstructure of the walls. Since the mud-brick debris was sealed by three floors with Iron Age sherds in situ, a dating of the walls phase excavated in operation C before the Middle to Late Iron Age is assured. The dating of the walls in Operation A is still up for debate, but seems to match the results achieved in C. Though using different materials, the parallels drawn with the walls of the neighboring sites of Porsuk and Alishar could offer further information for dating the later phases- in the least for the Middle Iron age.


Op. A in 2012

The second excavation season at Kınık Höyük lasted from June to August 2012. Works focused on two Operations, A and B, in both cases extending the excavation of 2011. During the 2011 season, in Op. A we had exposed the monumental citadel walls. In 2012 the excavation area was enlarged in two directions, west and south. Towards the west (Area A1), the aim was to expose the continuation of the citadel wall, while the enlargement towards the south intended to investigate the inner structures of the citadel (Area A2), clarifying their stratigraphic and planimetric relationships with the wall.

In area A1, under the topsoil, we unearthed a series of 4 levels, all dating to the Late Iron Age. The first level is characterized by a production area, used in two phases. The first phase comprised a floor pierced by a series of pits, of which two contained ashes and other traces of burnt material. A small olla for cooking, perfectly preserved, was unearthed in this phase, together with various ceramic and glass slags. Underneath this phase, the second phase comprised a clay floor, associated with a series of pits and a small half-interred mud brick oven. A complete red burnished plate was found within the oven.

The second Late Iron Age level (Level 2) comprised a small stone wall running E-W abutted by a lamination of several clay floors, many patched by ash spots. This level is well preserved only in the north-eastern sector of the excavated area, while to the south-west it is badly eroded and cut by the Level 1 pits.

Underneath Level 2, a series of several other floors, apparently not associated with any structure, represented another level (Level 3). Significantly, from these floors and the above lying accumulations we recovered a rich assemblage of ceramic sherds, among which there were also fragments of a pitcher with a painted polychrome flower.

The fourth Late Iron Age level (Level 4) was characterized by well constructed architecture. This comprised a mud brick wall with stone socle running N-S, perpendicularly to the citadel wall. To the north it formed a corner with another mud brick wall running E, breaking up after ca. 1 m, perhaps in connection to a sort of passage or doorway for the building. Both the N-S and the W-E wall were plastered, maybe even painted as traces on the former seemed to reveal. The room defined by the two walls was not excavated, but we completely exposed the mud-brick debris sealing it. To the south the room was defined by a second W-E. Here the area was quite disturbed by pits dug from the levels above, but it has been possible to expose a third W-E wall. It probably defined another room, the western sector of which preserved a well-made floor, paved with large stones. Area A1 is the western extension the 2011 excavations in Operation A, where the imposing structure of the citadel wall was exposed for 4.5 m in width and 6m in height. On the northern facade of the wall, the sole face exposed thus far, we found a perfectly preserved 10 cm thick layer of plaster. In 2012 we opened a 12x10 m excavation area following westwards the orientation of the wall. At the end of the works in the area, we discovered that, after it fell into disuse, the citadel wall was heavily plundered along its whole thickness, in order to obtain building materials ready for other structures. Only the southern limit of the wall remained untouched by looting activities. Just above these meager remains of the citadel wall ran a mud brick wall with stone socle, joining with the Level 4 structures that emerged in the Area A 2. This wall defined a space occupied by a paved floor, a wide hearth and a couple of large interred pithoi. A third pithos, provided with lid, was lying on another paved floor pertaining to a second space of the same structure.

The last two phases investigated in Area A1 lie in the western sector. Both are domestic contexts, very badly preserved because of their proximity to the topsoil. In the north-western corner the remains of a plastered floor are associated with an E-W mud brick wall. To the north of these remains, two interconnected walls have been unearthed, one of which is leaning above the filling of the citadel wall spoil trench filling.

Operation B, located on the top of the mound, was also enlarged in two directions. A first enlargement to the north-west, (Area B2) aimed to extensively investigate the stone architecture that emerged during the 2011 season. In particular we brought to light a new room of the building exposed in 2011, together with a hall shaped as an "8" lying to the south, found completely filled with stone debris. Investigations on the floor sequence and their relations to the walls finally allowed us to understand the different phases of structure function. Already during the 2011 campaign we had noticed the presence of both medieval and Hellenistic materials in the accumulations above the floors of this architecture. Thanks to our 2012 work it is now clear that the structures extending to the north of Op. B represent different phases of manipulation of a Hellenistic building (Level 3), whose remains have been apparently reused also during the Medieval Period (Levels 1-2). Some medieval installations seem to have served for feeding and watering animals and seem to reveal the rural nature of the settlement during that period. The medieval masonry directly leans on coeval floors, without contacts to the preceding floors, associated with the original Hellenistic edition of the structure.

Area B1 is the southern elongation of the 2011 excavation area in Operation B. In the northern sector of the area a series of medieval layers have been brought to light, directly associated with the northern levels. The uppermost level (Level 1) comprised a circular stone structure with a diameter of 5m ca., recalling the typical structures or fences nowadays used by local herdsmen. The architecture found in the level underneath (Level 2) was quite poor, comprising a house provided with very small rooms, barely preserved clay floors and defined by single-lined stone walls.  Outside this house, we found three broken storage jars, reused as trash bins or ovens.

All traces of medieval occupation disappear in the levels below (Level 3-4), giving way to badly eroded levels, disturbed by activities of the preceding phases. Here the poor remains of a mud brick wall have been found, whose relationships with other exposed structures are very difficult to establish. The associated floors are also poorly preserved and extant only in small portions. Judging from stratigraphical sequence and ceramic findings, Levels 3 and 4 are to be dated to the Hellenistic period. Below these levels, the excavation was stopped after exposing the top of a large mud brick wall running NW-SE, likely dating to the Iron Age. Significantly, this mud brick wall runs parallel to a 1.50 m thick stone wall uncovered immediately below the topsoil along the southern edge of Area B1. However, this latter wall lies at a much higher elevation then the mud brick wall, but it is cut by Hellenistic pits, leaving the dating to the Iron Age as a possibility.


The 2013 excavation season, lasting from June to August, has especially concerned the levels of Period III, dating to the Achaemenid occupation of the site. Besides continuing the work started in 2011 in the Operations A and B, in 2013 a new operation (Operation D) was opened in the lower terrace of the site, along its western borders. The joint investigation in the Operations A, B and D unexpectedly revealed the relevance the site must have had during the Achemenid period. In addition to the excavation, the first restoration and preservation works were carried out, focusing on the citadel wall exposed in Op. A during the 2011 and 2012 campaigns.

Bird Figurines from Op A1

Bird Figurines from Op A1

In the Area A1 of Operation A investigations have extended westwards. The first level excavated in this area (Level A1.1) was lacking major structures but, judging from the findings, including a small hoard of 13 bronze coins, can be dated to the Hellenistic period. Below the Hellenistic level, we found a series of floors in relationship with two badly preserved walls, forming the north-eastern corner of a small space. The materials recovered from the floors and the accumulations in between allow us to date their disposal to the Achaemenid period, between the 6th and 4th century BC. The findings in these levels of Area A1 are extraordinary in terms of both quality and quantity. In fact, in addition to fine ceramic sherds, many of which display painted decorations, we found a large amount of terracottas, many zoomorphic and one anthropomorphic, representing a female figure. Added to a fragment of architectural decoration, these findings let us hypothesize that the levels constituted part of a worship area of very high importance.

In the Area A2 of Operation A (squares 17.14-17.19-17.13-17.18), a first level dating to the Hellenistic period (Level A2.1) has been found, below which four levels dating to the Late Iron Age have been excavated (A2.2-5). The first among these latter levels bore elements of a workshop area, equipped with a furnace, half interred ovens, working surfaces and rubbish pits with slags of various materials. During the 2013 campaign we continued to expose the imposing E-W mud brick wall unearthed in 2012, possibly dating to the 7th century. Thus, works revealed this wall to be 13 m long, straddling squares 17.13 and 17.18.

Achaemenid Room Starting to Appear in Op. B

Achaemenid Room Starting to Appear in Op. B

Work in Operation B focused on its central area. Here, we first investigated the medieval and Hellenistic levels (Levels B.1-4), already partially exposed in 2011 and 2012. These levels, particularly those dating to the Medieval Period (Levels B.1-2), were characterized by a series of pits, several large (reaching 3 m in diameter), cutting the preceding levels of occupation. This pitting heavily hindered the possibility to fully understand stratigraphical relationships between the different levels. The south-western sector of Operation B was better preserved compared to the central sector. In particular, we brought to light stone structures and floors associated with a Hellenistic house reused and modified in the Medieval Period. The southern half of square 16.16 was entirely occupied by structures of a monumental building, whose main element was a massive 1m thick and 10m long mud brick wall. This wall, oriented SE-NW, formed at its eastern ending a corner with a NW-SE wall, preserving traces of a white plastering. In this corner we opened a deep sounding that, while not yet reaching the original floor of the room, revealed the walls to be preserved for the extraordinary elevation of more than 2m. The deep sounding, moreover, reached several intermediate floor levels, indicating multiple stages of reutilization of the large structure after its first installation (Levels B.5-7). The accumulations and the debris leaning against the wall and filling the large room produced ceramic materials dating to the Achaemenid period. Moreover, in the bottom of the sounding a circular mud brick installation forming a quarter of circle joined to the two perpendicular walls has been found. In the filling of this installation, probably a trash bin, two complete ceramic bowls have been found, both pertaining to a Late Iron Age horizon.

Red-Banded Pottery from Op. D

Red-Banded Pottery from Op. D

The new Operation opened in 2013 (Operation D) occupies the western limit of the lower terrace of Kınık Höyük (square 1.15). The latest level delineated here, lying a few centimeters below the topsoil, was heavily disturbed and dates to the Medieval Period. This level (Level D.1) displayed very different features from those of the medieval settlement in Operation B, and some findings suggest an earlier dating to the Byzantine period. If confirmed, this hypothesis would attest the presence at Kınık of a Byzantine settlement limited to the lower town and not involving the mound itself. In the north-eastern corner of Operation D, we found a small space, demarcated by stone walls. It is likely attributable to a Hellenistic level (Level D.2), judging from the materials produced by the fillings. Investigations south-west of this room suggest that it could have been associated to some craft production activities. Below the Hellenistic level we unearthed a small space (Level D.3), defined by two mud brick walls and a small stone wall, maybe pertaining to an earlier phase. Judging from the hardness of the mud bricks, possibly produced as an effect of burning, the presence of many ash accumulations and the recovery of oven remains, this was an industrial area, maybe for the processing of foodstuffs or even of metals, as apparently suggested by some slags retrieved in the surroundings. Ceramic materials, including a fragment of a painted lekythos, provide a dating of Level D.3 to the Achemenid period.

In 2013 the restoration work for the outer facade of the citadel wall has started. Functional to the restoration work, we carried out archaeological excavation in the area, which brought to light the construction phase of the wall itself, corresponding to the most ancient level so far reached at Kınık (Level A.8). Moreover, the excavation to better expose the facade led to the reconnaissance of a rampart, covering the most ancient construction phase of the wall and associated to the most recent one.


The 2014 season, lasting from mid-July to early September, continued to produce new and exciting results for the seven levels of occupation already identified at Kınık Höyük during the previous three campaigns. The 2014 excavation comprised three areas of operation. Operation A on the northwestern slope of the mound included sector A1 in the southwest, sector A2 in the southeast and sector A-Walls in the deposits north of the citadel walls. Operation B continued excavation at the top of the mound and Operation D continued excavation on the terrace in the western sector of the lower town.

Operation A1
In sector A1 the excavation was extended toward the south (S17.3) in order to further investigate the Levels A1.1-2, which represent the Hellenistic and Achaemenid Period occupations that were first uncovered in 2013. Level A1.1 consists of a terraced platform defined to the north by a mudbrick wall A104 and to the east by a stone wall A126. The terrace likely represented a court with a storage function, with at least three phases of use. Five big pithoi were placed into the soil of the court. East of the stone wall a space defined by a floor may have functioned as a partially roofed room as indicated by its many postholes and a central fireplace. This space also included a bench or chest constructed of stones and filled with earth and a hoard of 17 bronze coins which were sealed from above with mudbricks. They most likely belong to the same hoard as thirteen coins discovered in 2013. The area around the bench yielded two more hoards under the floor, and sparse coins for a total of 189. Readable coins date to the late 2nd – early 1st century BCE. On the floor below, belonging to Level A1.2, a red painted base of a terracotta statuette was found: its production technique, fabric and decoration are compatible with the two bases of zoomorphic vessels found in 2013 likely dating to the Late Achaemenid Period.

Operation A2
Work in Sector A2 continued to investigate the buildings associated with Level A2.3, the LIA I (Period IV; 7th-6th c. BCE) that were uncovered in the previous two campaigns. Our excavation extended southward (S17.18) and removed floor A282, revealing its preparation layers below and another floor A1215 which could also be dated to the LIA I due to the well preserved collection of ceramics found in the ashy layer just above the floor. This floor, also associated with mudbrick walls A234 and A300, defines a large court (Room 1) that represented an earlier phase A2.4b. The northern wall of the court was constructed against the internal red-painted plastering of the citadel walls and was coated with many layers of fine, white-painted plaster, traces of which were also identified on the western wall A234. The walls delimitating the court show multiple phases of construction, possibly due to earthquakes or the instability of the area. The court was accessed from a large passageway on the southwestern corner that preserved part of a nicely smoothed, regularly set basalt stone pavement. Three floors in the court were exposed, all with very few materials, dating to the LIA I and MIA. The discovery of fragments of at least three pithoi on the floor A1222 = A1245 suggests that the court played a part in storage for this building.

Walls Stratigraphy


Operation A-Walls
In 2014 we exposed five more meters of the citadel walls in S17.19, east of the section exposed during the previous three campaigns. Three rows of a mudbrick superstructure were revealed at the easternmost edge of this section once again indicating the excellent preservation of this monument. Furthermore, we were able to excavate and date the seven levels of outer archaeological deposits abutting the walls on the northern slope of the mound (A.1-7). Level A.3 is most likely the latest level in which the walls were still in use and dates to the LIA II/Achaemenid Period from initial potter analysis. A 30 cm channel, possibly representing the remains of a drainage system, ran along the outer face of the walls during this period. The level below, A.4, used a different type of drainage system consisting of yellow permeable earth brought to the settlement. Level A.5 included an interesting feature made from mud and stones formed a 1 m thick installation which was covered by a 1.5 thick accumulation rich with bones and ceramics dating to the MIA. Level A.6 dates to the EIA and the accumulations here may represent trash deposits moved here to help protect the stone socle of the walls from outside attack and provide stabilization to the walls which were in need of repair already during this period. Finally, A.7 is the level in which the walls were constructed. C14 analysis of timber used in the outer face of the stone socle provides a date of 1400+/-50 BCE and the ceramics in the rampart accumulation A161 provide a date of the LBA-EIA. To the north, an earlier phase of construction was uncovered. A stone rectangular foundation with traces of a mudbrick superstructure jutted out from the walls and may belong to a tower. This level is not yet dateable.



Operation B
The main aim of the 2014 season was to further investigate the Achaemenid Period mudbrick building which witnessed several phases (Levels B5-7). Mudbrick walls B397 and B673, first exposed in 2013, are common features for all three levels. These walls are particularly well preserved, ca. 2 m high and 1 m wide, with some spots displaying a robust colored plastering. The latest phase of this structure, is also defined by two additional walls (B815 and B892), which join with B397 and B673 to form a large trapezoidal room measuring ca. 10 m by 3-4 m (Room 7). Below, in Level B6, the main architectural feature of this room is the wall B897. This wall, comprising a stone socle and mudbrick superstructure, runs NW-SE just below the later wall B892 and is coated by a thick layer of plaster. The earliest floor of Level B.6 (phase b), was provided with an oven (B2001), equipped with a lateral stone installation. Toward the north-western corner of the room the bottom of a mill was found upside down on the floor. The presence of a mill, oven, and several ashy fireplaces indicate that this space was associated with food preparation during Level B6. Level B7 is currently exposed only in the eastern half of Room 7 and will be investigated in 2015.

Operation D
In 2014, we continued to excavate in several areas of S1.15 in order to bring the entire area to a uniform level and to better articulate the changes between the Hellenistic Level D2 and Achaemenid Level D3 periods and to begin to investigate evidence for a LIA I (Period IV) occupation. The transitional phase between the Achaemenid and Hellinstic periods (Level D2.b) was preserved and investigated east of stone wall D1114 which defines a room (Room 2) first uncovered in 2013. Here we excavated a series of accumulations full of thick ash and charcoal fragments and poorly preserved floors. Similar to documented activity on the citadel, this phase indicates the burning and removal of previous floors in preparation of the floors and architecture associated with Level D2.a which definitively dates to the Hellenistic Period. We continued excavating east of Room 2 (Level D3.a) and revealed food production installations including large (D1161) and small (D1191) domed mudbrick ovens as well Olynthus type basalt mill, consisting of a hopper and lower curved grinding stone, (which is compatible with a 5th century BCE dating for Level D.3a. The Level D.3b directly below also corresponds to the Achaemenid Period. Excavation inside Room 2 revealed another food processing area and a deeper sounding below the Achaemenid floors in the southern portion of the room suggests we have reached a LIA I occupation.

Conserving the citadel walls and protecting the site for future excavation and visitors is an important aspect of our project at Kınık Höyük. In 2014 we were able to confirm that the mortar-like material (natural volcanic binder and MAPEI mixed with soil and water) used to stabilize the masonry was a success. In order to further protect the walls, and most importantly, their well-preserved outer mud plastering, we began a roofing project to replace a previous temporary roof. A system of multiple roofs at different heights covering different contiguous areas of the excavation was conceived in order to be able to take apart single elements without disassembling the whole roofing system. In Operation B, the conservation team also took samples of the painted plaster from the Achaemenid building and another roof was constructed to protect this area of the site. Finally, the summer of 2014 witnessed the construction of temporary trails and the erection of information panels in Turkish, Italian and English which have already benefitted locals and visitors alike.