Winter is coming, also in Doliche!

And that is not only because of the name of our project director, Prof. Dr. Winter, but also because the winters here in Doliche can be quite harsh. In comparison to the high temperature/ low humidity summers the winters reach temperatures of about 0 °C. This of course means that the ground freezes, and we can expect rain as well as the small snowfall here and there. For the nature it gives the dried up land much needed time to recover from the harsh summers. For us however, it means that before we leave for Germany there is one last thing to do: protecting the excavated areas from the weather conditions and preparing the site for the winter.

Therefore, after the actual excavation work has finished, we spent a couple of days every year to protect the exposed areas for the time until the next excavation. We do this in several ways, as different archaeological remains require different protective measures. As sad as it is to cover all the areas which we excavated with sweat and tears over the last weeks, it has to be done in order to be able to enjoy the site in the future.

To do this we use 4 different kinds of materials: Tyvek, geo-textile, fine sand and fragmented limestone pebbles. For normal trenches without mosaics or walls etc. we just cover the whole area with geotextile, to cover the soil and prevent any plants to grow there. If there is a fragile layer, like a foundation layer which can slide away, we will cover the trench with geotextile and then refill it up with soil, in order for the remains to not get destroyed as much.

In case of a mosaic or walls the protection needs to be more in depth: For mosaics we first put down a layer of Tyvek, which will protect the mosaic from water. It works much like the gore-tex membrane, allowing the mosaic to diffuse water from the ground, while not allowing water trough from the top. This will then be covered by a first layer of geo-textile. Then we will fill the space on top of the mosaic with a layer of fine black sand. This will be again covered with geo-textile, topped with a final layer of fragmented limestone pebbles of white colour. These layers serve as a dampener, so that the mosaic takes no damage if any animal (or for that matter people illegally entering the site) decides to take a stroll around the mosaic floor.

Finally, the fence we constructed around the excavation site will be expanded and closed. Thereby hindering wildlife access to the site. All of these measures are necessary to be able to reopen the trenches next year with minimal damage sustained. With these tasks also done we can relax a bit and focus on the coming research period or semester in Germany.

by Fynn Riepe

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Finishing up the work in Doliche

The last time we spoke about this year’s excavation results was during our half-time show a couple of weeks back. Now that the actual excavation has finished on Saturday, it’s time to show you this year’s results in all its glory!

Of course this year we only worked on the terrace basilica. Last time we spoke about three different trenches which we excavate this year. However, we added one more trench, to shift our working groups there, in case we had to stop working in one trench in order to document a planum etc. So all in all we were excavating in four areas this year. The terrace basilica itself is now excavated almost completely in the eastern part, with both rooms bordering the apse and the apse itself completely exposed. Below you can see our progress since the last update.

In the area of the Trench 01, with 10×10 m by far our biggest trench this year, we were able to expose a row of water channels and also basins which were in some way connected to the usage of the church. This however needs further investigation and research, which we will commence once we are back in Germany. Furthermore, here the exposed walls reach the highest point within the confinement of the church, reaching a maximum of about 2,5 m in height. Quite a marvellous sight when walking around these ancient walls. The mosaic in the northern aisle of the church could also be uncovered completely and is preserved quite well.

Between the Trenches 01 and 02 lies the apse. Here we managed to expose the apse mosaic completely, showing a nilotic scene. This is a term for a scene which shows an abundance of fish, birds and plants, referring to the river Nile by its name. Our apse-mosaic even shows a depiction of a shrimp! It’s a beautifully made mosaic with a mixture of wildlife and geometric forms. Further south in her area of Trench 02 we were able to clearly show the eastern wall of the church and with that the most eastern extension of the church itself.

In Trench 3 we were searching for the southern border of the church area, and we hoped to find the limits by uncovering the southern church wall. However, it seems that the basilica went through multiple stages of restructuring and rebuilding even in antiquity. Thereby the area south of the church is a complex mixture of different foundations for floors walls and other undefinable structures, and we have yet to figure out how exactly these can be interpreted. Still, we gathered valuable intel and hope to finally clear this question next year.

Interestingly, even beyond the borders of the church, mainly in the east, we found more complex structures indicating further rooms and buildings which were somehow connected to the late antique basilica church. It is too early to say what kind of function these rooms would have had, but a connection to Christendom and the function of the church itself seems certain. As we found these remains in the Trenches 01 and 02 and parts of them were uncovered already during the 2018/2019 campaign we decided to open another trench. Here, in Trench 04 we tried to expose the connection points of the church and these new buildings to the east. By exposing these walls we even found remains of doorways indicating the close relation of the church and the additional buildings to the east!

All in all we had an exciting campaign this year, not only because of the new challenges brought to us with Covid-19. The excavation showed amazing results, and we can’t wait to start working on them once we are back in Münster! Furthermore, we are already planning trenches and hatching plans for next year’s campaign. After all, after the excavation is before the excavation…

So with all that in mind, thank YOU for staying with us throughout the campaign and best wishes from the whole (actually quite small) excavation team of the Doliche 2020 project!

written by Fynn Riepe with pictures by Markus Heim

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How Marbelous!

The Wall Decoration of the Ancient Terrace Basilica

In Doliche, a soft limestone was the used for almost every building from the Hellenistic period to the Middle Ages. It was abundantly available and could be carved with great ease. Many quarries can be identified at close distance to the city and even within the urban area. The limestone, however, is of low quality and not very prestigious. Throughout antiquity, the most appreciated building material was marble, especially for public buildings, but also rich private mansions. However, no marble quarries existed in ancient Greater Syria. If people in Doliche and other cities of inland Syria wanted to use marble, they had to import it from Asia Minor, Greece, or North Africa. The transportation of the stone over such long distances and especially over land was very expensive. To lower the costs, not massive marble ashlars were used, but thin marble revetments slabs that covered the limestone walls.

The excavation of the terrace basilica at Doliche has yielded very rich finds of marble revetment slabs. During the last two weeks, hundreds of fragments have been recovered from the sanctuary and the apse. The finds indicate that large parts of the walls have been covered with marble slabs. White and coloured marbles were used. The slabs did not have uniform dimensions and their thickness ranged between 2 and 4 cm. In some instances, traces of paint that was applied to the slabs is still preserved.

Among the finds are many fragments of slabs carved in champleve technique. In this technique, geometric, floral, and faunal motifs have been incised in the marble plaques. Subsequently, the areas surrounding the ornaments were removed to a depth of several millimetres. The surface of the background was left rough and frequently coloured red while the ornaments had a very smooth white surface. The contrast in colour and texture between the two zones is eye-catching and aesthetically appealing.

The close examination of the stones will hopefully allow for a reconstruction of the wall decoration. It will help us to understand how the interior of the church looked like and which effect it had on the people attending service.

by Michael Blömer

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The Digital Trench

A few posts ago, we described to you how a section of a field becomes a trench: we excavate layer by layer and designate a new planum whenever a striking change in the ground is noticeable. Each of the plana is documented by a photo and a drawing in scale of 1:20, but on top of that with every new planum the trench is recorded as a virtual 3D-model.

The Model of Trench 2 of the 2018 Campaign

The first step on the way to a virtual trench is to take photos of every detail of the trench’s surface/content, ideally from every angle possible. These photos are then imported into a software that is capable of understanding the three-dimensional structure of the trench by analysing the images (photogrammetric processing).

Step by step, the software generates a three-dimensional point cloud, whose points are then linked to each other to create a meshed surface. Finally, the software adds a texture based on the photos to simulate the actual appearance of the trench. The result is a virtual 3D-model of the trench that was photographed in the beginning.

In order to use the model for documentation purposes we want to be able to locate the virtual trench in our excavation area (georeferencing). Therefore, we add markers to the trench before taking photos of it and establish the coordinates of every marker with the help of a tacheometer. Since the markers appear on the photos, they are also visible in the textured model, and so we can easily assign the established coordinates to them. The virtual trench is now embedded into a coordinate system which means it can be placed on a virtual planet earth at the exact same spot where it belongs.

After georeferencing the virtual trench, we use the software to create an orthophoto: an aerial photo that shows the trench directly from above without the distortions a normal aerial photo would include (orthorectified image). The orthophoto is then printed in scale of 1:20 and given to the colleagues in the field. While checking with the actual trench, they draw the planum on a semi-transparent drawing paper that lies on top of the printed orthophoto. This procedure simplifies and speeds up the process of drawing the planum to scale.

by Julia Arnkens

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DOLİCHE HALI YIKAMA! (or, how we clean mosaics)

Merhaba!  Bu yazımızda; bizi arazide en heyecanlandıran şeylerden birinden bahsedeceğiz: Mozaik taban! Bu yılki çalışmamızda; küçük renkli taş parçalarının bir araya gelerek göz alıcı bir hale büründüğü bir zemin bulduk. Bu sürecin daha iyi anlaşılması için sırayla anlatacağız. İşçilerin kazmayla kazdığı toprakta çıkan buluntular arasından sık sık mozaik parçaları çıktığında bu bizim için bir ipucu olabilir: Dikkat mozaik taban var.

Hi! In this article, we’re going to talk about one of the things that excites us the most in the field: the mosaic floors! During our excavation this year, we found a mosaic floor where small pieces of coloured stone came together and turned into an eye-catching form. We will explain this process in order for you to better understand it. The first hint for us, is when loads of mosaic fragments are found among the finds from the soil digged up by the workers. It says: Attention, here is/was a mosaic floor!

Doliche’nin mozaikleri yaklaşık olarak M.S 400’lere tarihlenir ve genellikle geometrik desenlere sahiptir. Bazen de yöreye ait bitki ve hayvan motifleri bulunur.  Antik Doliche anlaşılan halkı bize sürpriz yapmak istemiş çünkü farklı katmanlarda birbirinden farklı mozaik tabanlar buluyoruz. Bir diğer sürpriz ise bu tabandaki mozaiklerin renklerinin ve tessera boyutlarının birbirinden farklı olması. Kim bilir hangi eller tarafından işlendi!

Doliche’s mosaics are dated approximately to 400 AD and generally have geometric patterns. Sometimes there are local plant and animal motifs. The ancient people of Doliche apparently wanted to surprise us, because we find different mosaic floors in different layers. Another surprise is that the colours of the mosaics and the sizes of the tessera are different on each floor we find.

Haydi bakalım bu mozaikler bizimle nasıl tanışıyor ondan bahsedelim. Öncelikle ekibimizin direktifleri doğrultusunda işçiler çalışmalarına başlar. Onların görevlerinden biri de her buluntuyu kategorilerine göre biriktirmektir. Örneğin ; tessera kovası, seramik kovası, kemik kovası gibi. Mozaik tabanın ne zaman karşımıza çıkacağını bilmediğimiz için dikkatli olmak şartı ile kazmaya devam ederler.  Çünkü 15-20 cm derinlikte de bulabiliriz 1 metre ya da daha fazlasında da. Bu kazdığımız alanın topografyasına, mimari yapının özelliklerine göre değişir. Yukarıda bahsettiğimiz gibi tessera buluntuları; bize yakınlarda mozaik olduğunun habercisi olabilir. Eğer öyleyse bunu teyit etmek için küçük bir alanda küçük bir mala ile küçük hareketlerle mozaik taban kontrolü yaparız. Ve işte 1600 yıl sonra tanıştık! 

Let’s talk about how these mosaics meet us. First of all, workers start to work in line with the directives of our team. One of their tasks is to collect each find by category. For example: such as tessera bucket, ceramic bucket and a bone bucket. Since we do not know when the mosaic floor will appear, they continue to dig on condition of being careful. Because we can find it at 15-20 cm depth or 1 meter or more. This depends on the topography of the area we excavate and the characteristics of the architectural structure. As we mentioned above, the tessera finds may be understood as a harbinger of the nearby mosaic. If so, we check for the mosaic floor in a small area with a trowel to confirm this. And here we met 1600 years later!

Tabanın zarar görmemesi için çalışanlara kazarken mozaik tabanın üzerinde 10 cm kadar toprak bırakmalarını söyleriz. Onlar fazla olan toprak tabakayı aldıktan sonra artık daha profesyonel bir işçilik ile biz arkeologlar direkt olarak ilgileniriz.  Uçları değişik boyutlardaki malalarımızla bırakılan 10 cm toprağı parça parça alırız. Bunu yaparken küçük malzemeler kullanmayı tercih ederiz. Örneğin; kürek,zembil,mala,fırça…

In order not to damage the floor, we tell the workers to leave 10 cm of soil on the mosaic floor while digging. After they take the excess soil layer, we archaeologists deal directly with the remaining layer. We take the last 10 cm of soil with our trowels of different sizes, piece by piece. While doing this, we prefer to use small materials. For example; shovel, floor, trowel, brush…

Artık mozaik tabanı tamamen ortaya çıkarıldıktan sonra fırça yardımı ile kaba bir temizlik yapılır. Biz ise zemini zorlamamak için ayakkabılarımızı çıkarırız. Bir Sindirella olmasak da arazi ayakkabılarımız açmanın kenarında bizi bekler 😊 Sonrasında mozaik üzerindeki kalker ve benzeri tabakanın giderilmesi için spatula,bistüri kullanılarak nazik hareketlerle yabancı tabaka mozaikten ayrılır. Bu işlem biraz daha vakit alır ve sabır gerektirir ama bizi mükemmel sonuca çok yaklaştırır. Kazımadan sonra bu kez boyutu daha küçük bir fırça ile çıkarılan tabaka bir yerde toplanılarak atılır. Mozaik taban ilk aşamaya göre çok daha iyi duruma gelse de her zaman daha çok süpürülmeye ihtiyacı vardır. Fırçayı bazen tessera dizileri arasında, bazen de dairesel hareketlerle mozaik taban üzerinde kullanarak daha iyi bir görünüm elde etmeyi amaçlarız.

After the mosaic floor is completely exposed, a rough cleaning is made with the help of a brush. We take off our shoes in order not to force the floor. Even if we are not a Cinderella, our field shoes await us at the edge of the opening 😊 Then, the foreign layer is separated from the mosaic with gentle movements using a spatula and scalpel to remove the limestone and similar layers of chalk on the mosaic. This process takes a little more time and patience, but it gets us very close to the perfect result. After scraping, the layer, which is removed with a smaller brush this time, is collected and discarded. Although the mosaic floor is much better than the first stage, it always needs more sweeping. We aim to get a better look by using the brush sometimes between tessera series and sometimes on the mosaic base with circular movements.

Şimdi detayları görme vakti! Kuru temizlik bittikten sonra bir sonraki durağımız ıslak temizlik! Bunun için ihtiyacımız olan malzemeler: Kova, su ve sünger. Aslında herkesin yapabileceği bir işlem gibi görünse de hassas bir çalışma.  Süngeri ıslattıktan sonra dairesel pompa hareketleriyle taban üzerindeki çamuru absorbe ederiz. Maalesef bunu yalnızca bir kez yapmak yeterli değil. Kirlenen suyu sürekli değiştirerek aynı işlemi tekrarlarız. Büyük oranda temizlendikten sonra güneşle yarışa gireriz. Çünkü ıslaklık gitmeden ve tesseralar kurumadan acilen fotoğraf çekmemiz gerekir. Çünkü dokümantasyon için buna ihtiyacımız vardır.

Now is the time to see the details! After the dry cleaning is over, our next stop is wet cleaning! Materials we need for this: Bucket, water and sponge. Although it may seem like an operation that anyone can actually do, it is a delicate work. After wetting the sponge, we absorb the mud on the base with circular pump movements. Unfortunately, doing this just once is not enough. We repeat the same process by constantly changing the contaminated water. After cleaning to a large extent, we race with the sun. Because we need to take pictures urgently before the wetness goes away and the tesserae dry. Because we need this for documentation.

Fotoğraftan sonra dağılmış, kırılmış ya da zarar görmüş mozaik parçalarını iyileştirmek için bazı adımlar atmalıyız. Bunun için de bizi bekleyen restoratörlerimiz var. Mümkün olduğunca zaman kaybetmeden ulaştığımız bu eşsiz zeminlerin tedavisini onlara bırakırız. Bizden memnun kaldıysanız komşu antik kentlere tavsiye etmeyi unutmayın !

After the photo, we have to take some steps to heal the mosaic pieces that are scattered, broken or damaged. We have restaurateurs waiting for us to finish the excavation process, in order for them to immediately begin with restoration work. We leave the treatment of these unique floors to them as they work on these all year round. And that’s it. If you are satisfied with our professional floor-cleaning-services, do not forget to recommend us to the ancient city near you!

by Eda Yılmaz and Gamze Tunçay

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Maintaining the Ancient

As the main educational element under the Stewards of Cultural Heritage Project, the German Archaeological Institute – Istanbul branch, in close cooperation with the Seminar für Alte Geschichte, Forschungsstelle Asia Minor at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster organized a summer conservation project at the archaeological site of Doliche/Dülük Baba Tepesi in Gaziantep in 2017. The five Syrian awardees of the SoCH project led a team to conduct the conservation project on the site, under the supervision of an architect with experience in restoration projects.

In 2017, we chose a working area – a corner of the Iron Age weather god temple, with later Roman and Medieval additions and modifications – and developed the conservation concept. However, the restoration of the Iron Age took two years to complete. Since 2019, the restoration project is led by two Syrian awardees of the SoCH which are supervised by Mr. Andreas Hoffschildt.

Before and after the 2019 campaign.

The restoration project this year is a continuation of the previous campaigns of 2017 and 2019. This year, our focus was on the Roman part of the temple area which is located next to and overlapping the Iron Age remains.

Over the winter period there was a massive growth of plants in the whole area and a minor growth at and on the walls themselves. The big Roman ashlar blocks (limestone) were in poor condition. Also, the Iron Age walls were damaged by being exposed to the weather and climate. Especially the top-most part of the walls were in bad condition.

To protect these ashlars we discussed many options, and as a result, we decided to rebury parts of them, because it was the only feasible way to protect them from the environmental exposure. At the same time, we wanted to present these ashlars and foundations in a way to make them understandable for future visitors. Therefore, we decided to cover the foundations with modern walls, which will then, in the latest stage, be visible only as a footprint of the original walls. The rest of the original Roman ashlars will be protected by the new walls and soil. This solution seemed the most convincing combination of maintaining the ancient walls and allowing people to understand the situation.

We are now in the final stages of the restoration project and are covering the original walls with soil, as well as preparing information boards for future visitors.

by Mouhanad Aboudan and Ahmad Masri

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Workflow in Doliche

On a normal workday we start with our work in the field at 7:00 am. Therefore, we have breakfast at around 6:15 and proceed to pack all the things needed for the workday in the field. At around 6:45 we leave for the site. The Turkish workmen arrive at the same time. This year we have 12 workers coming from the village of Dülük or the city of Gaziantep. Usually they are students, from different areas, who do the excavation work as a second job to earn some money.

The Turkish workman usually structure themselves into teams of three. One person is working with the pickaxe, while the other two are shovelling the soil into a wheelbarrow and looking through it for finds such as ceramics etc. They are also not working parallel, as the trenches can be really confined space-wise. Therefore, while the guy with the pickaxe is working, the other two will sit in the shade of a tree and vice versa. Interestingly this concept of work distribution remains the same since the early days of archaeological excavations. Already in the 19th century, other archaeologists report on this concept in their diaries and field manuscripts.

The workday in the field is broken up by our breaks. We have two tea breaks, the infamous “çay mola”, as well as a longer lunch break. The tea breaks are 15 minutes each at 9:45 and 14:45. The food for the lunch break gets delivered directly to the field, so that we don’t loose time due to travelling back to the house etc. The lunch break is scheduled from 12:00-12:45, however the timing also depends on the arrival of our food, which can sometimes lead to a later start of the break.

The soil that has been removed by the workmen will then be directly loaded onto a waiting tractor with a trailer. Once the trailer is full the driver will bring the soil to a designated location and return to the site. Another part of the Excavation team is our Bekçi Ömer, who will support the excavation wherever possible. He is also in charge of the tea brewing process and the food distribution during lunch break. Furthermore, whenever we need a crane or something similar, he will direct the process. He also helped building a fence around the site and built a toilet over the winter period. All in all he helps where he can and tries to make the processes during the campaign as seamless as possible.

The workday is scheduled to last until 16:00 pm. Usually the workers will then clean up their tools and store them in our material container. For the excavation team the work will then continue for another 30 minutes or so, as we have to sort the finds and documentation. This has to be done in the field, so that a flawless exchange with the find processing team can be guaranteed for. Then we will return to the house with all the ceramic and special finds, to hand them over to the find processing team and make preparations for the next day.

by Fynn Riepe

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Where the Magic Happens

During every campaign our excavation teams find a host of small finds like coins, sealing impressions, pearls and other objects from different time periods. When they are uncovered, it is normally not possible to recognize the exact shape & form or smaller details and what is depicted on them. Therefore, the finds have to be restored in the restoration laboratory. Here we will clean and restore the finds, so that smaller details and pictures can be identified and dated.

Yeryüzünde göründüklerinde, normalde tam formu veya üzerinde gösterilenleri tanımak mümkün değildir. Bu nedenle buluntuların koruma-onarim laboratuvarında restore edilmesi gerekmektedir. Laboratuvarımızda buluntuların detaylarının tespit edilmesini ve tarihlendirilmesini mümkün kılmaktayiz. Her kampanya sırasında sikke, mühür izi vb. gibi çok sayıda küçük buluntu bulunur.

The small finds are first photographed and documented, then we start our restoration and conversation work. For example, pearls, spindle whorls, sealing marks and impressions are cleaned dry or moist, depending on the material. If necessary, and if there is a limestone, chalk or sinter layer on the material, different processes are applied. Bronze objects are cleaned mechanically and covered with a protective coating. Iron finds are exposed by sandblasting and, in some cases, various tips of a Dremel. These will also be covered with a protective coating. A large potion of the metal finds are ancient coins which we need to clean very precisely in order to restore the delicate depictions and inscriptions on their surface.

Bu kapsamda Doliche Kazılarında geçen sene yürütülen çalışmalarda elenmemiş topraktan bir sürü mühür izi bu sene elimize geçip laboratuvarımıza gelmiştir. Laboratuvara kazıdan gelen küçük buluntular önce fotoğraflanıp belgelendikten sonra koruma ve onarim çalışmaları yapılır. Örneğin boncuklar, ağırşaklar, mühür izleri ve mühür baskı aleti malzemeye bağlı olarak kuru veya nemli, gerekirse ve malzemenin durumuna göre üstünde kalker tabakası varsa farklı işlemler uygulanır. Veya kazı alanından gelen birçok bronz buluntular mekanik olarak ortaya çıkarılir ve koruyucu bir kaplama ile kapatilir. Demir buluntular ise bir kumlama cihazı ve bazı durumlarda bir dişçi motorunun çeşitli uçlarıyla ortaya çıkarılmış ve ayrıca koruyucu bir kaplama ile korunmuştur.

This year, the excavation and sieving teams already found more than 1000 sealing impressions, which all need to be cleaned and conserved. Our next work will be cleaning and uncovering a big bronze jug. We are excited to discover the original surface and shape of the vessel. And also about any small treasures that will find their way into our restoration laboratory in the coming weeks!

Bunlardan biri olan sikke; üstündeki toprak tabakası hassas bir şekilde alınır. Ve koruyucu tabaka ile kaplanir. Bu yıl şimdiden 1000’den fazla mühür izi bulundu ve korunması gerekiyor. Bir sonraki işimiz ise toprak altindan gün yüzüne cikan bronzdan yapılmış büyük bir sürahiyi temizleyip ortaya çıkarmak. Orijinal yüzeyi ve formu keşfetmekten heyecan duyuyoruz.

by Laura Lun, Veronika Disl and Özgün Öykü Şanlı

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The Doliche Halftime Show

Now that roughly half of our 2020 excavation campaign is over, we thought we’d show you the state of our progress and the trenches we are working on in 2020. This year we are working solely on the Keber Tepe. We are focusing all our efforts completely onto the late antique basilica church which was discovered first in 2017.

The late antique church is built in the basilica style, which originated from the western part of the Roman Empire. Our church here in Doliche was probably built sometimes during the late 4th century CE. The concept of the basilica was generally imported and adapted by the eastern parts of the Roman Empire during this time.

Work on the late antique church began in 2015, however back then we didn’t exactly know that we were dealing with a late antique church. Then, in the years 2017-2019 we excavated large parts of the basilica. Before our current campaign an area of roughly 350 m2 was already excavated. Because our church is situated at an area of the Keber Tepe which has a rather steep incline, the northern part of the church is covered by a larger amount of soil.

This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand everything takes longer to excavate here due to the amount of topsoil, on the other hand these areas are persevered way better, as the large soil amount protected the ancient building. You can see this in the pictures below easily, as for example walls are still visible in the northern part of the church, while in the south there is not as much conserved.

One of the nice parts of late antique buildings, and especially churches, are the beautiful mosaics that were used in that time. Our church in Doliche also has loads of them. While some, especially in the south, are not as neatly preserved, others are wonderfully complete and beautiful to look at. The true colours of the mosaics show especially when cleaned with water!

This year we focus especially on the eastern part of the church. The aim was to find the eastern and maybe southern walls of the church, to define the overall size and layout of the building. Furthermore, in late antique churches as well as today, the eastern part of the church was/is home to the apse, the area in which the altar is situated and from where the mess is hold. The apses of antique churches were usually adorned especially rich, with a vaulted roof and mosaics depicting saints and other Christian motives.

As of now we have reached about half of the depth of the trenches and are on target timing wise. We have already unearthed a couple of walls belonging to the rooms next to the apse. These we had anticipated, but couldn’t be sure that they were still traceable. Especially the northernmost trench shows promising signs, as the walls here are conserved up to 2 m in height! So we expect an astonishing sight once we are finished with this year’s campaign.

For the next couple of weeks we hope to find more intact mosaics and walls, so that we can reconstruct the late antique church of Doliche in a detailed way. Especially the northern parts of the church will be very exciting to uncover and hopefully tell us more about the early phases of Christianity in the region of northern Syria and Commagene. We hope that you are as excited as we are, and we can give you some interesting and new information about excavations in general as well as our Doliche project!

by Fynn Riepe

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Sunday Funday!

Yesterday on Sunday we had our weekly day off. In a usual situation, that’s without Covid being around, we would go on trips to different archaeological sites, cities and other nice places to visit. However, this year is different. In order to keep our contacts with other people to a minimum, trips to cities, restaurants and visits of the local bazaar are of limits.

We spent the last couple of weekends at the house reading, playing chess and spending our free afternoon here in Dülük. But! This week we were able to do a trip to very lonely but beautiful place called Ravanda Kalesi. The priority for us to do a trip like this, was to find a site, that is remote and without a lot of people being around. Ravanda Kalesi being a desert castle was the perfect match!

So at 10am we got in our cars and went off. The driving time to the site was about 1:30 hours, and we were really enjoying our drive through the countryside. New vistas, good music and the air-conditioning were a welcome change from our excavation-house. While we were closing in on Ravanda Kalesi, the surroundings became more desserty and mountainous. When we finally cleared the last hill, the view was beautiful. On top of a single mountain laid Ravanda Kalesi, an old castle from the time of the crusades.

The site was probably occupied from the Roman times onwards. However, we especially know about the times of the crusades. During this time the castle became an important fortress guarding the river Afrin. Its name Al-Rawandan or Ravendel depending on the source was under hot contention between the crusader state of Edessa and the Ayyubids under the famous Sultan Saladin. The castle remained important until the Ottoman times during which it slowly lost its significance and was lastly abandoned.

After climbing the hill and looking at the site, we enjoyed a small meal we brought with us in the form of simit and börek. And of course water, loads of water! While eating and chatting we enjoyed the marvellous views and our time off. However, you can only do so much at a site like this and soon we started with our trip back to Dülük. We would like to do these trips more often, but sadly its just not happening this year. The trip was a blast thought, and we all thoroughly enjoyed our Sunday at Ravanda Kalesi.

by Fynn Riepe

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