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Research: Mediterranean

Rough Cilicia Maritime
Archaeological Survey Project - 2004


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At the harbor of Antiochia ad Cragum, a Byzantine-era castle overlooks
our survey vessel Derin 2. (Photograph Jostein Gundersen)

Gazipasha, Iotape, Kizilin Sea Cave, and Biçkici River Egress

History of the Region
The Turkish Mediterranean coast has a rich history of seafaring, trade, boatbuilding, and piracy. Close geographical associations with the Levant, Cyprus, Greece and Egypt, benefited Turkish port cities by facilitating extensive trade and interaction. Alanya’s (ancient Coracesium) strategic location in Cilicia on Turkey’s southern shore, protected by a bay, consequently created a haven for pirates who became world (in)famous.
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Map courtesy the Rough Cilicia Archaeological Survey Project

By the end of the 2nd century BCE, Cilicia was home to one of the largest pirate operations in the world. During the Roman occupation of these lands, pirates were a thorn in the side of Roman rulers such as Julius Caesar, whose capture by Cilician pirates in the western Mediterranean spurred him to hunt them down after his ransom. Alliances with powerful politicians and a ready market for slaves and stolen goods in the Eastern Mediterranean ensured their success. The pirates of Cilicia were finally defeated by one of the largest Roman naval attacks in history, masterminded by Pompey the Great in 67 BCE. Because Pompey battled some of the pirates along the southern coast, this region of Turkey holds keys to understanding subsequent economic development of the region and may also illuminate resources used by the pirates.

The Rough Cilicia Archaeological Survey Project since the summer of 1996, under the supervision of archaeologist and Purdue University Professor Nicholas Rauh, has identified a number of terrestrial archaeological sites. In the summer of 2004, Florida State University Assistant Professor Cheryl Ward, in cooperation with Hakan Öniz and the Akendiz Arkeolojik Sualti Aratirmalari, initiated a maritime component. The goals of the 2004 season were to investigate aspects of the ancient Mediterranean economy affected by the Roman-period pirates, to examine the resources of the region thought to be significant for trade, and to focus on the role of luxury trade as a stimulus for regional surplus production.

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Lower fortress in Antioch, courtesy Nicholas K. Rauh

Activities in 2004 included visual and acoustic survey of the seabed and shoreline in a controlled and methodical exploration of waters up to 40 m deep. Survey data are integrated into a marine GIS to permit evaluation of coastal characteristics and potential maritime trade in areas lacking recognized harbors or port construction. We continue to broaden our understanding of the scope of maritime connections in western Rough Cilicia through the analysis of data recovered this summer.

The survey was funded in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0240211 as part of the Rough Cilicia Archaeological Survey collaborative research project. Survey activities took place between 10 and 28 July 2004. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Additional support was provided by the Nautical Archaeology Research Fund at Florida State University and the Rough Cilicia Archaeological Survey Project.

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The Crew - 2004
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  • Cheryl Ward – Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor, Florida State University
  • Gülnaz Savran – Turkish Ministry of Culture representative
  • Hakan Oniz – Technical Director and Underwater Photographer, AASAM
  • Jostein Gunderson – Museum of Natural History and Archaeology, Norwegian
  • University of Science and Technology
  • Burak Arcan – Anthropology Undergraduate Student, Florida State University
  • Arzu Göztas -- AASAM
  • Rachel Horlings – Anthropology Graduate Student, Florida State University
  • Meredith Marten – Anthropology Graduate Student, Florida State University
  • Sevgi Öncü -- AASAM
  • Ugur Sertatas -- AASAM
  • Engin Uçar – AASAM
  • Emre Etikan -- AASAM
  • Özlem Yeniay – AASAM

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