An Island Settlement in Late Antiquity: Boğsak

This morning I came across an interesting blog post (via Bill Caraher) about a late antique island settlement off the coast of southern Turkey, Boğsak Island. The post summarizes a lecture given by Dr. Günder Varınlıoğlu at King’s College, London, who directs the Boğsak Archaeological Survey. One of the (perhaps) interesting facets of settlement patterns in Late Antiquity is the proliferation of sites on small and sometimes quite barren islands (without, e.g., water supplies). Tim Gregory has studied this phenomenon in some detail in Greece in the Corinthian and Saronic Gulfs. At one time, these settlements (in Greece at least) were thought to be “isles of refuge,” places where really scared inhabitants of the mainland went when equally scary barbarians showed up to do terrible things to their homes and families. But Gregory’s work debunked much of this, and he demonstrated (among other things) that the material remains on these islands were of a more permanent nature and that many were inhabited over long periods of time (rather than a narrow window at the end of antiquity). Thus, the islands were settled for reasons beyond simple “refuge” from barbarian invasions, despite a lack of natural resources. And while the island inhabitants would certainly have relied on the nearby mainland for many of their provisions, they were also integrated into regional and long-distance trade networks. But why these islands were settled in the first place–their overall function within the settlement hierarchy and economy–remains unclear. Boğsak fits this model, and you can read all about it here.

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