The Yortan culture within the early Bronze Age of Western Anatolia
Yortan is a prehistoric burial site in the valley of Bakir Çai (Kaikos) in western Turkey. It was found and excavated by a French engineer, Paul Gaudin, some eighty years ago, but results have never been properly published. The finds which constitute the material offerings to the dead are now widely dispersed between some seven European museums. The research aims at bringing, for the first time, this well known but improperly understood material of prehistoric Anatolia into one single body of finds, and in that sense it could be considered as the long overdue publication of the site. Two site plans which belong to the archives of the British Museum, Western Asiatic Department, are also brought to light for the first time and make an important addition to the understanding of the burial customs of Yortan and Bronze Age western Anatolia in general. Large pithoi, up to 2m in height, were used as coffins, where dead adults lay in a contracted position on, one side. Infants and children were put in smaller jars. The tomb furniture consists mostly of pottery in the form of jugs and jars, and, less frequently, bowls. Out of 107 burials, over 250 individual pots could be traced and illustrated. Yortan itself is without any absolute date or stratigraphy. Thus the only possible way to bring the site into the established sequence of Anatolian and Aegean prehistory is by a comparative and to a lesser degree typological analysis. Three major Anatolian sites, Troy/Hisarlik, Thermi and Beycesultan, are the major source of the parallel material. In conclusion, Yortan appears to belong to a pottery culture of Early Bronze Age date that geographically occupies the north-west corner of Turkey, perhaps with its main centre lying in the Balikesir region. Its westward extension reaches the Aegean caost and the off-shore islands, ie. Lesbos, Chios. The Gediz (Hermos) valley might define the immediate southern boundaries, while in the North the celebrated site of Hisarlik, better known as Troy, might well be a part of this inland culture, representing a rather poor and coastal variant.