Urbanism, networks, and the dynamics of pottery production and use in the Konya Plain of south central Anatolia, Turkey.

J. Gait1 , N.S. Müller1, E. Kiriatzi1 and D. Baird2


Since 2014 the Fitch Laboratory, in collaboration with the University of Liverpool, has been working on a new project examining pottery production and distribution during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age in the Konya Plain of central Anatolia (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Location of Konya Plain study area.

The Konya Plain represents one of the most important regions for investigating the origins of urban societies, as witnessed by the large nucleated settlement of Çatalhöyük during the Neolithic and the later emergence of true urban sites during the EBA. During the Neolithic period (7300-6200 BC), the site witnessed the emergence of a large and densely occupied settlement that over time developed into a large Tell-type site (Çatalhöyük East Mound), and which has been considered by some scholars as a precursor to true urban settlements. Towards the end of the Neolithic, c. 6200 BC, the settlement transferred to the adjacent West Mound, where it continued (albeit diminished in size) into the middle of the 6th millennium before its final abandonment. At the same time as the occupation of the West Mound, and in the succeeding  Late Chalcolithic and EBA periods a number of other, smaller, settlements emerged in the Konya Plain. It is these sites that form the present focus of attention in this ongoing project.

In total the project will examine 171 samples from 20 single-period and multi-period sites identified during the Konya Plain Survey, directed by Professor Baird of the University of Liverpool, under the auspices of the British Institute at Ankara. However, for the first phase of the project analysis concentrated on the petrographic and WD-XRF chemical analysis of 58 samples of archaeological pottery from six Early Bronze Age sites (3000-2000 BC) (Figure 2) together with four geological samples of local clays.

Figure 2: Map of the Konya Plain showing location of Early Bronze sites sampled, and local hydrology and surface soil types. (Adapted from Doherty, C. et al. 2014, Landscape and taskscape at Çatalhöyük: An integrated perspective. In Hodder, I. (ed.) Integrating Çatalhöyük. British Institute at Ankara, London. Figure 6.2 ). 

Preliminary Results:

Chemical analysis has shown that the majority of the samples were of a similar composition, although a small number of samples were also clearly discernible as being different pottery fabrics (Figure 3). Following petrographic analysis, it was possible to divide the assemblage into three principal petrographic fabric groups (with various sub-group distinguished additionally), along with eight samples that were each unique among the samples analysed. The groups were defined not only by their composition, but also by aspects of the sorting, texture, and maturity of the inclusions and the structure of the fabric.

Figure 3. Cluster analysis of the log-transformed data (excluding sodium, lead, prosperous and copper) for the 58 EBA pottery samples analysed.

The majority of samples contain inclusions derived from a range of sedimentary and igneous (probably andesite) rocks, which were eroded and transported into the southern Konya Plain by rivers. Two principal pottery fabric groups, FG 1 and FG 2, could be distinguished by differences in texture and composition, as well as a number of sub-groups marked by the presence of additional inclusions of grog or shell fragments (Figures 6 and 7).

Fabric 4. Photomicrograph of “Metallic Ware” fabric containing serpentinite sand inclusions. (XP, x25, FoV = 3.4mm.)

Figure 5. Photomicrograph of fabric tempered with grog containing coarse volcanic rock fragments. (PPL, x25, FoV 3.4mm). 

Figure 6. Photomicrograph of fabric containing weathered volcanic minerals and sedimentary rock fragments, together with microcrystalline limestone and shell fragments. (XP, x25, FoV = 3.4mm).

Figure 7. Photomicrograph of fabric containing coarse volcanic rock fragments. (XP, x25, FoV = 3.4mm).

A further fabric group, FG3, contained high levels of serpentinite, inconsistent with the local geology of the Konya Plain, suggesting that it was imported (Figure 4). This finding agreed well with the macroscopic characterisation of these samples as “Metallic Ware”. Goltepe in Cappadocia, located approximately 240km east of the Konya Plain, has been suggested as the possible place of origin of this ware, which if correct would provide confirmation of the existence of long distance exchange networks between eastern and central Anatolia.

The use of grog temper was detected in samples from three sites (Figure 5), which although showing a range of compositions, nonetheless suggested the use of a common, distinctive, technological feature, indicating a possible transfer of technological knowledge.

Further analysis in the coming year, focusing on the Early and Late Chalcolithic pottery, will provide a diachronic view of the distribution of pottery and pottery production strategies in the Konya Plain.  Through a greater understanding of local and regional exchange networks, and how these may have changed over time, it may in turn be possible to gain further insights into the development of more complex, urban societies in central Anatolia.

This work is supported with a Small Research Grant from the British Academy.



·         “Urbanism, networks, and the dynamics of pottery production and use in the Konya plain of south central Anatolia, Turkey”, oral presentation at Pottery Technologies and Sociocultural Connections between the Aegean and Anatolia during the 3rd Millennium BC, Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), Vienna; 22nd October.  

·         “A diachronic study of pottery production and circulation in the Konya plain of south central Anatolia, Turkey”, poster presentation at the 13th European Meeting on Ancient Ceramics (EMAC), Athens; 24th-26th September.



1 Fitch Laboratory, British School at Athens, 52 Souedias Street, 106 76 Athens, Greece.

2 Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, 12-14 Abercromby Square, University of Liverpool, L69 7WZ.