Monumental Routes: Movement and the Built Environment in Iron Age Anatolia

“Monumental Routes” is a multi-scalar project employing digital and geographic techniques to study the complex relationship between movement and the built environment on the Central Anatolian Plateau during the Iron Age (10th-8th c. BCE). The focus of my project is the cultural landscape of Gordion, an Iron Age urban center in central Turkey that has undergone almost continual excavation by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology since the 1950’s. My project combines digital and humanistic perspectives, connecting monumentality, route networks, and urbanism to analyze spatial organization within Anatolian communities.

In my dissertation I identify and describe the ancient routes around Gordion that linked the city to other nearby, contemporary settlements. I detail how routes were monumentalized during the Iron Age by the construction of adjacent burial mounds, and describe the experience of travelling along them. To accomplish these goals, I employ techniques such as GIS (Geographic Information Systems) analysis, aerial photography, photogrammetry, and personally traveling these routes to gain an understanding of the landscape from a human perspective. My project clarifies the extent and intensity of communication between nucleated settlements within Gordion’s local region. It also helps us to understand the degree of political control exercised by the rulers of Gordion over the landscape and nearby settlements around them.

The current intensive agricultural practices and rapid development in Turkey are erasing the traces of past cultures in the landscape at a greater rate than ever before. My project seeks to investigate how people shape and are shaped by the landscape around them in a recursive cycle that is difficult but important to understand. It is critical to create a lasting record of the still surviving Iron Age features so that they can illuminate the complex spatial and social configurations of one of the great empires of ancient Turkey.Sunrise3