BOGSAK ISLAND

BOGA started in 2010 with the investigation of the Late Antique settlement on Boğsak Island, which has served as the main case study of our research.

Boğsak Island, located 300 m. off-shore from the closest mainland, has one of the best preserved settlements. On this small island, occupying an area of ca. 7 ha., are remains of a dense settlement datable to late antiquity.

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Written sources do not reveal much about the settlements at Boğsak Bay and Island. Stadiasmus Maris Magni of the second half of the 3rd century A.D. Mentions the λιμὴν Νησούλιον, i.e. harbor, of the small island (Stadiasmus, 483). On the other hand, the only inscription from the island (now housed at the Silifke Museum) dating from the 5th-6th centuries A.D., records the settlement as Άστερήα, which was furbished with buildings worthy of a city (G. Dagron – D. Feissel, Inscriptions de Cilicie [1987] 23). Thus, it can be presumed that this was a wealthy village which did not get the status of a city. In 14th-16th century portulans and maritime maps, Boğsak Bay was regularly noted as Portus Pini, with its formerly inhabited island, which offered neither anchorage nor any other amenities (F. Hild – H. Hellenkemper, Kilikien und Isaurien. TIB [1990] 384, 367). However, it is not known when the island settlement was abandoned.

This small island without arable surfaces, water, wood, or any other natural resource, was dependent on coastal settlements for provisioning. Thus, its existence and functions were tightly connected to the settlement at Boğsak Bay and the maritime trade.

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Settlement plan of Boğsak Island, 2013 (drawn by Deniz Coşkun)

Ongoing investigations on Boğsak Island consisted of two main projects. The first project is the architectural inventory, underway since 2014. The purpose of the architectural inventory project is to produce a detailed record of a representative sample of buildings, particularly houses, in such a way to document and study the organization of space, architectural components (e.g. arches, windows, niches), masonry techniques, and the use of building materials. The latter is supported by the archaeometric analysis of the building material samples.

The second project on the island is the intensive ceramic survey. It is conducted through grab sampling in areas with high-surface visibility. The datable sherds, comprise typically Late Roman-Late Antique imported finewares and transport amphoras, the latter mainly of regional production. The predominance of the Late Roman I (Yassıada) transport amphoras is striking; this is followed by Günsenin II and Zemer 41. Finewares are predominantly Cypriot Red Slip forms 1, 2, 7-11, and Phocaean Wares, especially form 3. Earlier sherds, ranging from Classical to Early Roman eras (e.g. Cypriot Sigillata, Eastern Sigillata A) constitute only 10 percent of the datable assemblage.