Tepecik-Çiftlik, which was first identified during the survey of the Central Anatolian region conducted by Ian Todd in 1966, is located in the southern part of the Central Anatolian Plateau, southwest of Cappadocia and within the borders of Niğde Province, Çiftlik district. The settlement is located very close to the Central Anatolian obsidian sources where obsidian, a very important raw material for prehistoric people, is found in abundance. Since 2000, the excavations in the settlement have been conducted by a team under the leadership of Associate Professor Erhan Bıçakçı from the Istanbul University Department of Prehistoric Archaeology.
Today the mound covers an area of 33,300 m2. The area to the south of the mound, however, was used as farmland, and surface finds are scattered over a large area. When this section is included the mound is nearly 6 hectares in size. The top of the mound is almost 9.6 m high. The deepest levels are nearly 7.30 metres below the surface, but we have not yet reached bedrock.
At Tepecik-Çiftlik, a total of 14 levels were identified from the Late Roman-Early Byzantine, Early Chalcolithic, Pottery Neolithic and Pre-Pottery Neolithic periods.
Period Level Date
LateRoman-Early Byzantine 1
Early Chalcolithic 2 5800-6100 cal. BC
Pottery Neolithic 3-9 6100-7500 (?) cal. BC
Pre-Pottery Neolithic 10-14 before 7500 BC (?)
The Late Roman-Early Byzantine period is represented by several graves found close to the surface of the mound. No other finds from the Late Roman – Byzantine period were recovered.
The 2nd level was unearthed in a narrow area at the western section of the excavation area and is dated to the Early Chalcolithic. In this level, structures with a square plan and stone-based walls were constructed close to each other. It is not currently possible to understand the details of the settlement pattern from this narrow area of excavation. Some rooms in the structures were divided to form small cells for storage. Installations such as ovens, benches, and silos are frequently found in the spaces where the floors are plastered with mud.
Panoramic aerial photo of Level 2.
Isometric plan of the structures of Level 2.
The storage room which is called "BY" from Level 2.
The storage room which is called "BY" from Level 2.
The 3rd level structures, which are dated for the second half of the 7th millennium BC, show similarities with each other in terms of their general characteristics. There are two phases in this level. The buildings are constructed with adobe walls over a stone base. In the free-standing structures, ovens and silos are common installations. A different type of structure, which is called a “structure with oven,” is seen in a subphase of this level. In this phase, ovens within the structures became more important, and ovens played a key role in shaping the settlement plan. In each building there is at least one oven and a storage unit. In the early phase of this level, free-standing structures with open areas in-between were constructed independently of each other. As new buildings were constructed in open areas, clusters of structures emerged and the open areas were reduced in size.
In the 4th level, which is dated approximately to the mid-7th millennium BC, the majority of the settlement was made up of open areas. The structures were constructed with adobe walls over stone base walls. The best preserved structure in this level is a building complex with a square plan. Eventually, smaller rooms were added to the structure which was first constructed as a single unit. Open areas with various workshops and utility areas can be identified around the building complex. Most of the information about the 4th level come from this building complex. Numerous bones and obsidian tools, the remains of burned wood, and the seeds of various plants which were found in the structure were destroyed by a strong fire. These organic materials can provide important contributions to our understanding of the lives of the people who lived at that time.
The 5th and 6th levels were uncovered at the centre of the excavation area. This section of the settlement was used as an open area. In most parts of the area there are shallow holes containing an ashy burned fill and waste pits containing waste from obsidian production and animal bones. Very few architectural remains were unearthed in these levels.
One of these architectural remains, however, belongs to a building from the 5th level, with stone walls and a square plan. In the 2.5 m2 space of the structure, bones belonging to at least 42 different people were found. Primary and secondary graves found around this structure indicate that this section of the settlement was used as the “graveyard”.
A deep trench was opened in the western section of the excavation area in order to understand the stratigraphy of the mound and to identify the earliest levels of the settlement. In this trench, levels dated to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic and early stages of the Pottery Neolithic were unearthed. No architectural remains were found in this small area; however, the discovery of these levels demonstrated that the settlement was also inhabited during the Pre Pottery Neolithic Period.
The best examples of the necked pottery are generally red slipped and decorated with human, animal, and plant reliefs. This pottery is also known from Köşk Höyük, another settlement in the region contemporary with Tepecik-Çiftlik. At Tepecik-Çiftlik this pottery is found in the 2nd level. In the upper stages of the 2nd level, the “Gelveri Type” pottery group was uncovered. This pottery has dark faces with geometrical decorations made by grooving, incising, and dotting techniques over oven-dried and well burnished necked bowls. In addition, the pottery found at the levels from the early stages of the Pottery Neolithic is the earliest pottery known in the Cappadocia Region.
In Tepecik-Çiftlik, chipped stone tools are made from obsidian which is abundant in the region. The variety of forms and production techniques show that there was a rich chipped stone tool industry at the settlement. Nearly every type of projectile point found in contemporary settlements in the Central Anatolia is also found in Tepecik-Çiftlik. The obsidian tools from the region are found in numerous Neolithic settlements in distant places (Northern Mesopotamia and Cyprus) from the 10th millennium BC, showing the importance of obsidian tool production and distribution for the people in Tepecik-Çiftlik. Supporting this, obsidian tools were found en masse in different levels of the settlement. Clay and stone stamps, which are common finds, may be taken to show that the Tepecik-Çiftlik people were in intense “commercial” relations with other communities.
The majority of the bone tools were pointed tools (awls, pins, etc). Tools like spatulas and spoons were made from the ribs of cattle and red deer. In addition to bone tools, small figurines and beads were also produced by the people. Small idols made from the first phalanges of horses or onagers are frequently seen.
The Tepecik-Çiftlik people buried their dead in the settlement. Grave goods were found in graves of infants, children, and elderly individuals. In addition to the graves which were prepared for single individuals, mass graves were also found where many individuals were buried together. Some babies were buried in jars. Some of the graves were identified in the buildings while others were located in the open area close to the buildings or in open areas. In many of the burials, individuals were placed in the hocker (crouched) position in the grave. The examination of the organic remains covering the skeletons showed that many of the individuals were surrounded with a straw-like cover.
Tepecik-Çiftlik, thanks to its stratigraphic continuity from the Pre Pottery Neolithic to the end of Early Chalcolithic, is the key settlement for understanding the Neolithic cultures in the Volcanic Cappadocia region in the eastern part of Central Anatolia.
The building complex which is called Structure-20 from Level 4.
Burnt plant remains from Structure-20 from Level 4.
Burnt horn remains in Structure-20 from Level 4.
A big pit includes ashy layers and obsidian flakes from Level 5.
Pre-Pottery Neolithic layers in the deep trench.
Obsidian cache with a stone stamp seal from Level 4.
The various malachite and beads and stone pendants from level 4.