Abstract: Kinet Höyük (Turkey) and the Archaeology of Eastern Mediterranean Seaports

The twenty-year project (1992-2011) at Kinet Höyük, an ancient seaport near Iskenderun/Turkey, offers a long perspective on maritime life in the northeasternmost corner of the Mediterranean. Kinet can be identified with classical Issos, overlooking the plain where Alexander the Great defeated the Persians in 333 BCE; and earlier, with a Hittite harbor named Izziya (ca. 1500-1200 BCE). The site’s archaeological span is much longer, however. Excavations show that from prehistoric times to the Crusades, Kinet flourished within an economic network extending at least as far as Cyprus, and occasionally throughout the eastern Mediterranean.

The Kinet excavations also concluded that archaeological expectations for land-based settlements differ from maritime sites in fundamental ways. The norms for ancient Near Eastern sites would predict that Kinet’s remote location and small size entailed a modest, self-contained existence. This port instead enjoyed enduring prosperity based on well-connected enterprise. My lecture will present an overview of the project’s findings, and propose parameters for the archaeology of seaports, using Kinet Höyük as guide.   


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