Scroll Top

Müge Bulu

Müge Bulu
Independent Researcher
Orta Tunç Çağı’nda Bölgeler Arası Bağlantı: Amik Ovası ve Kilikya’daki Suriye-Kilikya Boyalıları Üretiminin Karşılaştırmalı Analizi

Dr. Bulu, modern Hatay’ın (Türkiye) Amik Vadisi’nde yer alan Tell Atchana, Alalakh Kazıları’nda seramik çalışmaları direktör yardımcısı olarak görev yapmaktadır. Aynı zamanda Toprakhisar Höyük Kurtarma Kazıları’nda (Hatay) seramik uzmanı olarak çalışmaktadır ve Amik Vadisi’nin MÖ 2. binyıl seramiklerinin ve yerleşim modellerinin analizinden sorumludur.

Lisans derecesini Bilkent Üniversitesi Arkeoloji ve Sanat Tarihi Bölümü’nden, yüksek lisans ve doktora derecelerini ise Koç Üniversitesi Arkeoloji ve Sanat Tarihi (ARHA) Bölümü’nden almıştır. Araştırma alanları arasında çanak çömlek üretim teknolojilerinin yeniden inşası, bağlamsal ve işlevsel analizler yoluyla antik gıda yollarının anlaşılması yer almaktadır. Doktora tezinin bir parçası olarak Dr. Bulu, Tell Atchana’daki Suriye-Kilikya Malları (hakim OTÇ boyalı seramik stili) üretimini, makroskobik analiz ve üretim zinciri (chaîne opératoire) yaklaşımı içine yerleştirilmiş seramik petrografisinin uygulanmasından oluşan birleşik bir metodoloji ile araştırmıştır.

ANAMED’deki araştırma sürecinde Bulu, bu vaka çalışmasını bölgesel ve bölgeler arası seviyelere genişleterek, Amik ovası ve Kilikya’daki seçilmiş yerleşimlerden elde edilen Suriye-Kilikya mallarının karşılaştırmalı bir teknolojik analizini yapmayı planlıyor. İki bölge içindeki ve arasındaki teknolojik yaklaşımlar ve seçimlerdeki benzerlik ve farklılıkları araştırarak, etkileşim ve bağlantı modellerini aydınlatmayı amaçlıyor.

Interregional Connectivity during the Middle Bronze Age: A Comparative Analysis of Syro-Cilician Ware Production in the Amuq and Cilicia

Final Report

Dr. Müge Bulu

Post-Doctoral Fellow

During the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 2000–1600 BCE, hereafter MBA), different painted pottery traditions with distinct geometric, figural, and/or floral motifs that were applied on specific vessel shapes are seen in the settlements of the Levant, inner Syria, the Amuq, and Cilicia. One of these traditions was Syro-Cilician Ware (SCW, hereafter, Fig. 1), which was the prevailing painted pottery style in the area geographically confined within Islahiye Plain in the north and the course of the Orontes River in the south, the Jabbul Plain in the east, and Cilicia in the west. Not only its main distribution zone but also its sporadic appearances in central Anatolia, Cyprus, the Euphrates Valley, and the Nile Delta as local variations or imports signify the complex interregional networks of interaction during the MBA.1

Despite its critical significance, as being the materialized reflection of connectivity between distinct and distant cultural zones, SCW has mainly been studied either as part of the site and survey assemblages in its main distribution zone or included in comprehensive studies as comparative material with the other distinct painted pottery traditions of the MBA eastern Mediterranean: namely, Habur Ware and Levantine Painted Ware.2 Additionally, it has also often been used as an index fossil for the dating of selected vessels from museum collections or excavated sites and for cross-site comparisons.3 Therefore, the technological, contextual, or functional aspects of SCW and their social, cultural, and political implications have remained understudied.

Providing an in-depth analysis from one of its main distribution areas as a case study, I have investigated the production and consumption of SCW at Tell Atchana/Alalakh in the Amuq (modern Hatay, Türkiye) in my PhD dissertation,4 based on datasets retrieved from the stratified contexts of the renewed excavations at the site. The technological aspects were investigated by embracing a chaîne opératoire approach to trace the technological choices and traditions of SCW production with a combined methodology of macroscopic analysis and the implementation of thin section petrography.5 This approach has enabled the identification of various technical behaviors at each stage of production, from raw material procurement to firing. The technological analysis also yielded some hints regarding the organization of SCW production and the degree and type of specialization from an intra-site perspective.

The identification of different traditions in the production of SCW vessels at Tell Atchana, as well as the wide geographical distribution of this ware type, raised the question about the extent of regional and interregional encounters and their consequent effects on pottery production technologies and their implications for the organization of production. The purpose of my project at ANAMED entitled “Interregional Connectivity during the Middle Bronze Age: A Comparative Analysis of Syro-Cilician Ware Production in the Amuq and Cilicia,” aimed to fill this gap by expanding the case study from Tell Atchana into the regional and interregional levels and to conduct a comparative technological analysis of SCW from selected sites in the Amuq and Cilicia. By embracing the same theoretical framework and a combined methodology of macroscopic analysis and the implementation of thin section petrography, as applied in the Tell Atchana case study, this project targeted the similarities and differences in technological characteristics within and between the two regions. Although the analysis results are yet to be finalized, the preliminary observations shed light on the local production of SCW on both sides of the Amanus Mountains and the extent of circulation of both technological knowledge and the vessels themselves within and between these two different geographic zones.

To investigate the patterns of production within the Amuq Valley, the SCW material from Toprakhisar Höyük in the Altınözü district of modern Hatay is included in this project. Toprakhisar Höyük is a small highland settlement, where rescue excavations have been conducted by the Hatay Archaeological Museum since 2016. A monumental public building from the MBA was excavated at the site, which provided a stratified pottery sequence for the region, including SCW examples.6 By comparing the technological characteristics of SCW examples from Tell Atchana, the capital city, and Toprakhisar Höyük, a rural settlement, the aim was to comprehend the patterns of pottery production traditions in each site and whether a center-periphery relationship can be seen from a technological perspective. A total of 22 samples were selected for petrographic analysis, and two hearth fragments were also sampled to compare and contrast the constituents of the ceramics and the hearths. The preliminary results indicate that the majority of the SCW vessels were locally produced at Toprakhisar Höyük, with some samples displaying similar characteristics of some fabric groups at Tell Atchana that were designated as non-local. There are also a few outliers that are not compatible with the geology of the Amuq Valley, likely indicating contacts with other regions.

When I was a PhD student, I re-investigated the second millennium BCE settlement patterns in the Amuq Valley by re-evaluating the ceramic assemblages from the Amuq Valley Regional Projects conducted between 1995 and 2015 under the directorship of K. Aslıhan Yener.7 The survey data showed that 34 of these settlements yielded SCW material, and these examples are also incorporated into this project. The integration of the survey data expanded this research to a broader regional level and enabled examining whether there were specific centers producing SCW throughout the Amuq or if every site was producing its own locally. A total of 23 samples were selected for petrographic analysis from 14 different sites throughout the Amuq (Fig. 2). The main focus was to select examples from different parts of the valley, but sites that yielded a prominent MBA ceramic repertoire were also prioritized. The preliminary results show much more diversity within this group, indicating that the majority of the settlements were producing SCW locally, though there is also evidence for the exploitation of similar raw materials, as well as the ways in which they were modified.

Expanding this research to an inter-regional level, the comparative material for the Amuq samples come from three selected sites from neighboring Cilicia. The first site is Kinet Höyük, located in the Dörtyol region of modern Hatay, constituting the easternmost edge of Plain Cilicia. The excavations at Kinet Höyük were conducted between 1992 and 2012 under the directorship of Marie-Henriette Gates.8 Kinet Höyük is a multi-period site that evolved into an important harbor settlement during the Bronze Age and Iron Ages.9 The MBA levels of Kinet Höyük yielded SCW material, some of which also reflect stylistic influences from other painted pottery traditions of the Levant.10 A total of 22 samples were selected for petrographic analysis. There is much more diversity within this group, and almost half of the samples constitute single examples, indicating a great variety of technical behaviors, likely as a result of diverse contexts of production. Such diversity might be related to Kinet’s being a harbor town, likely receiving various goods from different places.

The second site in Cilicia is Sirkeli Höyük, located near the Ceyhan River in the Ceyhan district of modern Adana, and it is one of the largest Bronze and Iron Age settlements in Plain Cilicia. The site has been excavated by different teams since the 1930s,11 and the current expedition has been led by Mirko Novák.12 SCW material has been retrieved from the MBA levels of both the former and current excavations conducted at Sirkeli Höyük.13 A total of 23 samples were selected for petrographic analysis. The preliminary results indicate different paste preparation traditions, all of which are likely local, except for a few samples which likely represent imports.

The last site is Tarsus-Gözlükule, located in the Tarsus district of modern Mersin, representing the westernmost part of the research area. This is a significant site that was continuously occupied from the Neolithic to the Ottoman Period. The site was first excavated by Hetty Goldman in the 1930s and 40s,14 and renewed excavations at the site have been conducted under the directorship of Aslı Özyar.15 Tarsus-Gözlükule yielded a prominent SCW corpus dated from the very beginning to the end of the Middle Bronze Age.16 A total of 24 samples were selected from the Goldman Excavations material of Tarsus-Gözlükule. Similar to the results of Sirkeli Höyük, a variety of different paste preparation traditions with the use of locally available raw materials are detected, though a few samples might be representing imports within and outside Cilicia.

The preliminary results of this project indicate local production of SCW with internal diversities at each site and region, while they also display evidence for possible circulation of SCW within and between the Amuq and Cilicia. Although thin section petrography is a powerful tool to comprehend the technological traditions and provenance of the vessels, a planned geochemical analysis that will be conducted on the selected samples from each petrographic fabric group would provide more accurate results for a better understanding of the extent of regional and interregional interactions within and between the Amuq and Cilicia and its reflection in the production and circulation of SCW.




1 Müge Bulu, “Contextualizing the Consumption of Syro-Cilician Ware at Tell Atchana / Alalakh (Hatay, Türkiye): A Functional Analysis,” Adalya 26 (2023): 38.


2 Barthel Hrouda, Die Bemalte Keramik Des Zweiten Jahrtausends in Nordmesopotamien Und Nordsyrien (Berlin: Verlag Gebr. Mann, 1957); Jonathan N. Tubb, “Report on the Middle Bronze Age Painted Pottery,” in The River Qoueiq, Northern Syria, and Its Catchment: Studies Arising from the Tell Rifa’at Survey 1977–79, ed. J. Matthers (Oxford: Bar International Series 98, 1981), 403–12; Johnathan N. Tubb, “The MB IIa Period in Palestine: Its Relationship with Syria and Its Origin,” Levant 15 (1983): 49–62; Patty Gerstenblith, The Levant at the Beginning of the Middle Bronze Age (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1983); Tine Bagh, “The Relationship between Levantine Painted Ware, Syro/Cilician Ware and Khabur Ware and the Chronological Implications,” in The Synchronisation of Civilisations in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Second Millennium BC. II. Proceedings of the SCIEM 2000 Euro-Conference in Haindorf, 2nd of May – 7th of May 2001, ed. M. Bietak (Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2003), 219–37; Michael E. Bieniada, “Habur Ware — Where Are the Stylistic and Functional Sources of the Painted Pottery of the Second Millennium BCE Habur River Basin?” Ancient Near Eastern Studies 46 (2009): 160–211.


3 Jean Margueron, “Trois Vases Du Bronze,” Syria 45, no. 1/2 (1968): 75–96; G. Wild-Wülker, “Eine Kanne Der Nordsyrisch/Kilikischen Ware Im Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam,” Jaarbericht van het Vooraziatisch-egyptisch Genootschap Ex Oriente Lux 25 (1977–78): 35–44; Erkan Dündar, “Some Observations on a North-Syrian/Cilician Jug in the Antalya Museum,” Adalya 11 (2008): 21–33; Robert S. Merrillees and Jonathan N. Tubb, “A Syro/Cilician Jug from Middle Bronze Age Cyprus,” Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus (1979): 223–29; Andrew S. Jamieson, “A Painted Eye-Vase from Tell Ahmar and the Syro-Cilician Painted Ceramic Tradition,” in Si Un Homme…Textes Offerts En Hommage À André Finet, ed. P. Talon and V. van der Stede (Turnhout: Brepols, 2005), 79–83; Müge Bulu, “A Syro-Cilician Pitcher from a Middle Bronze Age Kitchen at Tell Atchana, Alalakh,” in Overturning Certainties in Near Eastern Archaeology. A Festschrift in Honor of K. Aslıhan Yener, ed. Çiğdem Maner, Mara T. Horowitz and Allan S. Gilbert (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 101–16.


4 Müge Bulu, “Production and Consumption of Syro-Cilician Ware at Tell Atchana, Alalakh: A Technological and Functional Analysis” (PhD diss., Koç University, 2021).


5 For details of petrographic analysis and its application to archaeological ceramics:

Patrick Sean Quinn, Thin Section Petrography, Geochemistry & Scanning Electron Microscopy of Archaeological Ceramics (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2022); Dennis Braekmans and Patrick Degryse, “Petrography: Optical Microscopy,” in The Oxford Handbook of Archaeological Ceramic Analysis, ed. Alice M. W. Hunt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 233–65.


6 Murat Akar and Demet Kara, “Into the Hinterland: The Middle Bronze Age Building at Toprakhisar Höyük, Altınözü (Hatay, Turkey),” Adalya 21 (2018): 85–115; Murat Akar and Demet Kara, “The Formation of Collective, Political and Cultural Memory in the Middle Bronze Age: Foundation and Termination Rituals at Toprakhisar Höyük,” Anatolian Studies 70 (2020): 77–103.


7 Müge Bulu, “A New Look at the Periphery of the Hittite Empire: Re-Evaluating Middle and Late Bronze Age Settlements of the Amuq Valley in the Light of Ceramics,” in Places and Spaces in Hittite Anatolia I: Hatti and the East. Proceedings of an International Workshop on Hittite Historical Geography in Istanbul, 25th–26th October 2013, ed. M. Alparslan (Istanbul: Türk Eskiçağ Bilimleri Enstitüsü, 2017), 185–208.


8 Marie-Henriette Gates, “Kinet Höyük in Eastern Cilicia: A Case Study for Acculturation in Ancient Harbors,” Olba II, no. 2 (1999): 303–12.


9 Marie-Henriette Gates, “The Hittite Seaport Izziya at Late Bronze Age Kinet Höyük,” Near Eastern Archaeology 76, no. 4 (2013): 223–34.


10 Marie-Henriette Gates, “Kinet Höyük (Hatay, Turkey) and MB Levantine Chronology,” Akkadica 119–120 (2000): 77–101.


11 Mirko Novák, “Sirkeli Höyük (1992–1996) Explorations in Plain Cilicia, Turkey,” in 50 Jahre Vorderasiatische Archäologie in München, eds. A. Otto and K. Kaniuth (Gladbeck: PeWe-Verlag, 2022), 234, fig. 1.


12 Mirko Novák, Ekin Kozal, and Deniz Yaşin, eds., Sirkeli Höyük. Ein urbanes Zentrum am Puruna-Pyramos im Ebenen Kilikien Vorbericht der schweizerisch-türkischen Ausgrabungen 2006–2015 (Vienna: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2019).


13 Ekin Kozal, “Painted Pottery Traditions at Sirkeli Höyük in the 2nd Millennium BC,” in Late Bronze Age Painted Pottery Traditions at the Margins of the Hittite State. Papers Presented at a Workshop Held at the 11th ICAANE (München 4 April 2018) and Additional Contributions, eds. Federico Manuelli and Dirk P. Mielke (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2022), 177–203.


14 Hetty Goldman, Excavations at Gözlükule, Tarsus II. From the Neolithic through the Bronze Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1956).


15 Aslı Özyar, ed., Field Seasons 2001–2003 of the Tarsus-Gözlükule Interdisciplinary Research Project (Istanbul: Ege Yayınları, 2005); Aslı Özyar, Elif Ünlü, and Türkan Pilavcı, “Recent Fieldwork at Tarsus-Gözlükule: The Late Bronze Age Levels,” in The Archaeology of Anatolia, Volume III. Recent Discoveries (2017–2018), ed. Sharon R. Steadman and Gregory McMahon (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019), 53–71.


16 Elif Ünlü, “Style as Representation of Political Hegemony? A View from the Edge of the Hittite Kingdom,” in Late Bronze Age Painted Pottery Traditions at the Margins of the Hittite State. Papers Presented at a Workshop Held at the 11th ICAANE (München 4 April 2018) and Additional Contributions, eds. Federico Manuelli and Dirk P. Mielke (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2022), 147–62.