The Konya Regional Archaeological Project (KRASP) is an interdisciplinary research program co-directed by Christoph Bachhuber (University of Oxford) and Michele Massa (British Institute at Ankara), in close collaboration with Fatma Şahin (Çukurova University) and James Osborne (University of Chicago). KRASP is developing a synthetic, interdisciplinary approach to the archaeological landscapes of the Konya Plain (central Turkey, figure 1), from the Aceramic Neolithic to the end of the Iron Age (about 9000-300 BC). The region, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Çatalhöyük, is one of the largest and most fertile plains in Turkey, with a 10,000-year history of sedentary settlement and agropastoral communities.
Over the last century the region has been the focus of numerous palaeo-environmental studies, excavations and survey projects (see the Legacy page) which have focused primarily on the alluvial ecosystem of the Çarşamba and May river deltas. One of the primary aims of KRASP is to survey the neglected eastern region of the Plain (within the Çumra and Karatay districts), defined mostly by “marginal” steppe and highland landscapes (figure 2).
By synthesizing and reassessing results of decades of previous research in combination with new data from KRASP’s surveys, the Konya Plain provides an ideal regional context to address fundamental developments that have been largely neglected in Anatolian archaeology. Longue dureé processes of sedentism, urbanism and political consolidation (and collapse), and related phenomena such as modifications to landscapes, farming production, and pastoral mobility, are all being investigated from a regional perspective. With these issues in mind, KRASP brings together an international team of specialists to achieve two overarching goals:
(1) to understand human-environment interactions in different ecological niches (alluvium, steppe, highlands), and under varying socio-economic and political conditions;
(2) to shed light on the different forms of socio-cultural, economic and political interaction between communities in the Plain and with the neighbouring areas.
Relevant research towards our first goal includes assessing potential long-term impacts of land management on the different ecoystems of the Konya Plain, including farming, deforestation and resource exploitation. The relationship between irrigation and the formation of larger state-like entities is a core concern of KRASP (see Modifying Landscapes). We are also addressing the relationship between climate-induced environmental changes and broader patterns of settlement in the Konya Plain, for example through consideration of relatively sudden shifts in rainfall regimes and average temperatures that appear to correlate with the end of the Neolithic (the 8.2ka event), the Early Bronze Age (the 4.2ka event) and the Late Bronze Age (the 3.2ka event).
Relevant research towards our second goal includes understanding the causes and effects of interaction within and beyond the Konya Plain, for example as mediated by resource procurement networks (see Networks page) and political consolidation. We are also exploring how emergent polities defined themselves spatially, whether through the construction of fortified hilltops or the commissioning of landscape monuments (see Political Landscapes page). More broadly, KRASP is providing a landscape and regional perspective on spatially extensive phenomena such as the onset (and collapse) of urban settlements and state-like polities (see From Villages to Cities page).
Through the links above you can learn how KRASP is engaging with the legacy of previous archaeological research on the Konya Plain, our methodological approaches, the results of our analysis, and some preliminary considerations on the relationship between the archaeological landscapes of the Konya Plain and the people who inhabit these landscapes today.