|29 April 1999
Turkish Neolithic outpost
Höyük is the Turkish word for a tell, artificial hills that grew as for millennia people built new settlements on the ruins of older ones. Tells are because of their stratification and longtime occupation hotspots for archaeologists. The Ilipinar höyük, near the northwestern Turkish city of Orhangazi, dates back as far as the sixth millennium BCE. This was the time when a new way of living spread from the Middle East in the direction of Europe: the Neolithic. A more or less sedentary way of live combined with the production of food (in stead of solely hunting and gathering) and pottery.
In 1987 Dutch archaeologist J.J. Roodenberg began excavations at the site, revealing that Ilipinar höyük was continuously occupied between 6.000 and 5.500 BCE. Then followed a hiatus of about twelvehunderd years. Occupation returned in the Early Bronze Age and stayed until the sixth century AD. Always a nearby freshwater stream must have attracted people to the location. Ilipinar means lukewarm well.
The 1998 excavations concentrated on the earliest occupation. Around 6.000 BCE the first village consisted of some ten dwellings. Small and simple rectangular houses built of wood and mudcovered reed. A burialground close to the houses contained about fifty graves. Some deceased were buried on broad planks. By 5.700 BCE the villagers began to use sundried clay tiles for their dwellings. Real houses appeared at Ilipinar, a couple of them two stories high, with a light construction for a roof. Why the village was abandoned so suddenly at 5.500 BCE remains unclear.
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