Home Page Issues Publishing Principles Order Form Links Contact Türkçe
Detailed Search  
Click here to visit Anmed Web Site
If you would like to get announcement mails about Akmed activities, please subcribe to our mailling list.
First name:
Last name:


The Farms in Rough Cilicia in the Roman and Early Byzantine Periods
Upon the surveys of the eastern part of Rough Cilicia region, plenty of rural settlements have been discovered. The rural settlements found in the area show that agriculture played an important role in the region in the Ancient economy, and different patterns were used in the production. There has been archeological proof and literature regarding the existence of an economy based on small farms and villages in the east of Rome that originated in the Hellenistic Period and extended into the Byzantine Period. The fact that we have encountered a plethora of similar, well protected samples throughout the surveys further supports this process. In the area the survey was conducted, rural settlements have spread all over the area; moreover, several production equipments have been discovered in the area. In this study, we focus on a limited number of farms since to scrutinize all the rural settlements in the area would go beyond the scope of this study. Although the number of farms investigated in the area is somehow limited, with the well-protected remains within these farms, it is possible both to form a regional typology and to conduct a chronological study. Some of these farms have already been used in previous studies; however, the discovery of many others in the area and the improvements in the documentation techniques have made it possible to re-evaluate the farms in question. The limited number of studies on the geographical and historical features of the rural settlements in this area3 as well as the lack of any study on the settlement patterns have made it crucial to carry out a study on the existence of a regional organization and a settlement pattern. Nevertheless, the place the farms occupy in the regional organization as a whole is the subject of another study. This study includes the preliminary results of an investigation to be used in further studies. The study aims to find answers to several questions concerning the farms in this area. These questions are as follows: (i) Is there a farm pattern peculiar to the region? (ii) Is there any proof to confirm the existence of landlords we have known to exist due to other studies in the literature? (iii) In which periods did the farms originate and develop, and what were the needs that gave rise to the birth and development of farms? (iv) What are the reasons underlying the increase in the number of farms in the Roman Period and afterwards? (v) What is the relationship between the villages and farms? (vi) What is the earliest date showing the starting point of the farm tradition that is observed both during and after the Roman Period? The rural settlements in the Rough Cilicia region exhibit typological diversities: simple or complex farmsteads, small villages, middle-sized or large villages that are close to cities, the workshops that were constructed either within the villages or on independent lands.
We have discovered farms with different characteristics in the area. These farms vary in their features according to the simplex versus complex structures of the farmsteads. Some of the farms are huge with complex architecture. These farms include some buildings used for production and storage, different types of tombs, production equipments, plenty of houses, and cisterns as well as a farm house where the owner of the farm or the landlord inhabits. Be that as it may, we understand that the farmsteads were always used in different and later stages and that some of the structures inside these farmsteads were added in later phases according to the needs of the farmsteads in the area. The farm houses investigated face either the south or the southwest and sometimes open to a court in either of these directions. The farm houses generally have two floors; the first floor serves for agricultural needs, whereas the upper floor is used as a residence. The farm houses in the area generally do not have a standard design. Some of the farms in the area are surrounded by walls and are thus fortified. The well-protected farm in Keşlitürkmenli is an example of fortified farmsteads. Inside the walls of this farm, there are buildings that might have been used for dwelling and storage. Besides, there is a central court situated in the centre of these walls; there are also wooden porches along the long edges of this court. Similar features can be observed in the farmsteads in Çildiremez, Sömek Vakıf and Esseler. We have also discovered farms with no walls around, but with courts either in front of or near the farmhouses. For example, the court is placed in front of the farm house in Gökkale. Analyzing the well-protected samples, we have understood that these courts have floors paved with stones. Besides, inside the court, there are cisterns big enough to cover the whole court.
We understand towers too are one of the common characteristics of the farmsteads. The existence of four towers in every corner of the walls surrounding the farms in Çildiremez and Keşlitürkmenli reinforces the fortified appearance of the farms. On the other hand, there are some farms where there is only one tower situated in one of the corners of the wall around the farmstead. In some of the farmsteads, although the farm itself has no towers, the need for one is met by constructing the farm house in the form of a tower. In Byzantine sources, it is suggested that the fortified farmsteads, also referred to as limitanei in these sources, are the dwellings of the military settlers. However, we propose that these fortified farmsteads in Rough Cilicia were used either by landlords or by the owners of the farms rather than the military settlers, as was the case in Philistine.
We have also discovered many houses in the farmsteads. Most of these houses must have been added in later periods, which not only shows that the farmsteads were continuously in use throughout all the periods but also makes it possible to consider some of the farmsteads as small villages in the early Byzantine Period.
It is noteworthy that there are also churches in these farmsteads. It is quite obvious from the location of the churches and the construction techniques that the churches were added to the farmstead in later periods. The existence of tombs in the farmsteads signals the permanence of life; one can observe different types of tombs in the farmsteads. There are a few sarcophagi and generally only one monumental tomb in the farmsteads.
The farmsteads in the area are placed at altitudes ranging between 0-1400 m. because of the climatic conditions. Even though the area is hilly and mountainous, the existence of many karst collapse areas made the development of rural settlements possible at the time. These areas assisted agricultural activities and thus were one of the basic criteria in choice of the location rural settlements were to be founded. These lands are still used for agriculture today. Most of the farmsteads investigated in the area are established on the skirts of the hills around the karst collapse areas. A regional organization in this area is possible thanks to the valleys that provide the avenues of transportation between the hilly areas and coastline and the ancient cities on the coast. It is known that the ancient road routes in the area are connected to the rural settlements. We understand that the historical traits of the area play an important role in the emergence, formulation, and development of rural settlements. Among the oldest known agricultural structures in the area are the Cilician Towers, which are known to have been built between the early Hellenistic Period and the early Roman Period in the region. It is also suggested by some other scholars that these towers were used for the security of agricultural production as well as defense purposes. The discovery of some small farms and workshops, production installations belonging to these farms around Korykos is remarkable since it can be considered as the first archeological proof pointing to the existence of agricultural production and organization in the Hellenistic Period in the area. In spite of limited archaeological evidence for rural settlements in the Hellenistic period in this region plenty of archaeological evidence pointing to rural settlements as well as agricultural production particularly in the Roman and early Byzantine periods and this unveils a settlement organization. Although there are certain problems in identifying and dating the archeological remains in the area due to the constant use of these remains in all periods, we can refer to some results regarding the dates the farmstead were in use. The gable roofed aedicula tombs and the barrel-vaulted aedicula tombs reveal that such examples of tombs emerged in the area after the first half of the 2nd century A.D. This further shows that the farmsteads in the region were also in use during the aforementioned periods. Presence of tabulae ansatae and altars on sarcophagi shows the characteristics of the sarcophagi encountered in this area. It is suggested that the initial sarcophagi were produced based on the examples made Korykos either towards the end of the 2nd century A.D. or at the beginning of the 3rd century. Along with the expansion of Christianity in the region, the sarcophagi used in previous periods were reused with some additions such as cross reliefs or inscription starting from the last quarter of the 4th century A.D. The existence of chamosorion type sarcophagi with cross patterns proves the use of Roman farmsteads in the early Byzantine Periods. In view of the construction equipments, the simplicity of the designs, the existence of small subsections in the houses in the farmsteads, and finally their similarity to the house architecture in rural settlements in North Syria, it is suggested that the dates of these houses be set as the 4th and 7th centuries. The production equipments discovered in the farmsteads further supports this conclusion. Abundance of archaeological materials points to the facts that production activities increased particularly in the Late Roman period and continued thereafter. Yet, it is necessary to keep in mind that agricultural production has its origins in the Hellenistic period. Farmsteads observed in Rough Cilicia during the historical periods concerned have similar features as those in Lycia, Pamphylia, Palestine, Syria and Africa.

* Yrd. Doç. Dr. Ümit Aydınoğlu
Mersin Üniversitesi, Fen-Edebiyat Fakültesi Arkeoloji Bölümü, Çiftlikköy Kampüsü Mersin
E-mail: uaydinoglu@mersin.edu.tr

Article List