Nederlands Instituut in Turkije
Hollanda AraştIrma Enstİtüsü      Netherlands Institute in Turkey


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Excavations at Barcın Höyük

NIT Research Project Early Farming Communities in the Eastern Marmara Region



How did the first farming communities develop in northwest Anatolia, more than 8000 years ago? How did these people make a living, in what kinds of settlements did they live, how did they treat their dead, and with which communities nearby and far away did they interact? And, at a broader temporal and regional scale, what was the role of northwest Anatolia in the spread of farming from the Near East to Europe in the Neolithic Age?

These are some of the central questions of the long-term research project Early Farming Communities in the Eastern Marmara Region launched by the Netherlands Institute for the Near East (NINO) and the Netherlands Institute in Turkey (NIT) some 25 years ago. For a better understanding of the westward spread of agriculture, the study of the Marmara region, located on the geographical boundaries of Asia and Europe, is of key importance. Yet, this region has long remained a blank on the map of prehistoric archaeology.

Earlier Excavations

At the beginning of the Early Farming project stood the excavations at Ilıpınar, launched in 1987 by Jacob Roodenberg. This was the first systematic attempt to find out when and how the alluvial valleys of this region were colonized by early farming communities. It was discovered that the site, which could be dated back 8,000 years, had a full-fledged farming economy. The mound of Menteşe was studied as a second step in the Early Farming project in order to be able to evaluate the evidence from Ilıpınar in its regional context. This site had begun to be occupied in the second half of the seventh millennium, making its initial settlement several centuries older than Ilıpınar. A third mound, Hacılartepe, was investigated because of presumed links with nearby Ilıpınar. This site yielded only Early Bronze Age material, however.


The NIT Excavations at Barcın Höyük (2005-)

The third step in the Early Farming project was the launch of excavations at Barcın Höyük in 2005. The site is located 5 km west of the town of Yenişehir along the road between İznik and Bursa. This mound, with evidence for occupation in Byzantine, Hellenistic/Roman, Early Bronze, Late Chalcolithic, and Late Neolithic periods, promised finds perhaps even predating the oldest phases excavated at Menteşe and Ilıpınar. As the research continues, it is hoped that a thorough study of the Neolithic layers will provide significant information on the earliest phases of settled life in the area. This in turn will help elucidate the role of the Marmara region in the processes of Neolithization of northwest Anatolia and southeastern Europe.

As with so many prehistoric sites in Anatolia, Barcın Höyük first entered the literature through the work of James Mellaart and David French. The site was included in the surveys of Mehmet Özdoğan in the 1980s. No further study was undertaken until 2005, when excavations were begun by NIT/NINO under the direction of Jacob Roodenberg and (in 2005 and 2006) under the auspices of the İznik Museum. The site, hitherto known as “Yenişehir II” was renamed “Barcın Höyük” after the village in the vicinity. Excavations continued annually since then, since 2007 under the direction of Fokke Gerritsen of the NIT.

For preliminary reports on the excavations seasons from 2007 onwards, please follow the links in the Publications section below.


Barcın Höyük Excavations Team
Project Director: Fokke Gerritsen (Netherlands Institute in Turkey, Istanbul)
Assistant Director: Mücella Erdalkıran (Ege University, Izmir)
Field Director: Rana Özbal (Koç University, Istanbul)

Ceramics: Laurens Thissen (Thissen Archaeological Ceramics Bureau, Amsterdam)
Lithics: Ivan Gatsov and Petranka Nedelcheva (New Bulgarian University, Sofia)
Worked Bone: Mücella Erdalkıran (Ege University, Izmir)
Beads: Emma Baysal (British Institute in Ankara), Ellen Belcher

Faunal remains: Alfred Galik (University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna)
Botanical remains: René Cappers (Groningen University)
Human remains: Songül Roodenberg Alpaslan

Geo-archaeology: Sjoerd Kluiving (VU University Amsterdam)
Archaeometry: Hadi Özbal and Ayla Türkekul Bıyık (Boğaziçi University, Istanbul)
Micro-archaeological and soil chemistry analyses: Rana Özbal (Koç University, Istanbul)

Archaeological Information Systems: Maurice de Kleijn (VU University Amsterdam)
Conservation: Pınar Güler
Illustrations: Cennet Pişkin, Mücella Erdalkıran, Gülşah Günata

In addition, the Barcın Höyük Excavations collaborate with individual researchers, research groups and consortia, including:

·         Boğaziçi University’s Archaeometry Research Center Lipid Residue Analysis of Neolithic ceramics

·        NWO-funded PhD research Living Neolithization. Micro-histories and grand narrative in Neolithic Anatolia and Southeast Europe (c. 7000-5000 BC), by Elisha van den Bos, VU University Amsterdam  [link]

·          Marie Curie Project BEAN Bridging the European and Anatolian Neolithic [link]

·         ERC Project From the earliest modern humans to the onset of farming (45,000-4,500 BP) [link]


The Barcın Höyük Excavations are carried out with permission from the Culture and Tourism Ministry of the Republic of Turkey.

Institutional support is provided by the Netherlands Institute in Turkey (Istanbul), Koç University (Istanbul), Research Institute CLUE (VU University Amsterdam), Boğaziçi University (Istanbul), Ege University (Izmir).

The Barcın Höyük Excavations gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Netherlands Institute for the Near East (NINO).



Alpaslan Roodenberg, S., F. A. Gerritsen, R. Özbal, 2013: Neolithic Burials from Barcın Höyük: The 2007-2012 Excavation Seasons, Anatolica 39, 93-111.

Gerritsen, F.A., R. Özbal, 2013: NIT Excavations at Barcın Höyük, 2012, NINO-NIT Annual Report 2012, 13-20. [link]

Gerritsen, F.A., R. Özbal, L. Thissen, 2013: Barcın Höyük. The Beginnings of Farming in the Marmara Region, in M. Özdoğan, N. Başgelen, P. Kuniholm (eds), The Neolithic in Turkey. New Excavations and New Research. Vol. 5 Northwestern Turkey and Istanbul, Istanbul: Archaeology and Art Publications, 93-112.

Gerritsen, F.A., Özbal, R., L. Thissen, 2013: The Earliest Neolithic Levels at Barcın Höyük, Northwestern Turkey, Anatolica 39, 53-92.

Gerritsen, F.A., Özbal, R., L. Thissen, 2013: Barcın Höyük ve Marmara Bölgesi’nde Tarımının Başlangıcı, Arkeoloji ve Sanat/Journal of Archaeology and Art 143, 51-66.

Özbal, H., L. Thissen, T. Doğan, F. Gerritsen, R. Özbal, A. Türkekul Bıyık, 2013: Neolitik Batı Anadolu ve Marmara Yerleşimleri Çanak Çömleklerinde Organik Kalıntı Analizleri, 28. Arkeometri Sonuçları Toplantısı, 105-114. [download here]

Özbal, R., F.A. Gerritsen, 2013: 2011 Yılı Barcın Höyük Kazıları, 33. Kazı Sonuçları Toplantısı, vol. 1, 159-168. [download here]


Gatsov, I., P. Nedelcheva, M. Kaye, 2012: Lithic assemblages from the prehistoric settlement at Barcın Höyük, Northwestern Anatolia. New Results, Eurasian Prehistory 9, 125-133.

Gerritsen, F.A., R. Özbal, 2012: The NIT excavations at Barcın Höyük, 2011, NINO-NIT Annual Report 2011, 3-9. [link]

Gerritsen, F.A., R. Özbal, 2012: 2010 Yılı Barcın Höyük Kazıları, 33. Kazı Sonuçları Toplantısı, vol. 4, 155-166. [download here]

Lillie, M., C. Budd, S. Alpaslan-Roodenberg, N. Karul, R. Pinhasi, 2012: Musings on Early Farming Communities in Northwest Anatolia; and other Flights of Fancy, Interdisciplinaria Archaeologica, Natural Sciences in Archaeology 3(1), 11-22. [link]

Özbal, R., F.A. Gerritsen, H. Özbal, 2012: Barcın Höyük. Neolitik Dönemde Yemeklerde ve Aşçılıkta Yenilikler, Aktüel Arkeoloji Dergisi  27, 28-31. [download here]

Özbal, H., A. Türkekul Bıyık, L. Thissen, T. Doğan, F. Gerritsen, R. Özbal, 2012: M. Ö. 7. Binyılda Barcın Höyük Süt Tüketimi Üzerine Yeni Araştırmalar, 27. Arkeometri Sonuçları Toplantısı, 15-32. [download here]


Gatsov, I., P. Nedelcheva, 2011: Lithic artifacts from the Neolithic period in northwest Anatolia. Latest results, in N. Bilgen, R. von den Hoff, S. Sandalcı, S. Silek (eds), Archaeological Research in Western Central Anatolia (The IIIrd International Symposium of Archaeology, Kütahya) 8th-9th March 2010, Kütahya, 1-8.

Gerritsen, F.A., R. Özbal, 2011: Barcın Höyük Excavations 2011, NIT Newsletter 2011/2, [link]

Gerritsen, F.A., R. Özbal, 2011: Anadolu’da sütün tarihöncesi. Neolitik Barcın Höyük, Aktüel Arkeoloji Dergisi  24, 40-41. [download here]

Gerritsen, F.A., R. Özbal, 2011: The NIT excavations at Barcın Höyük, 2010, NINO-NIT Annual Report 2010, 13-17. [link]

Jacobi, M., 2011: Chemistry unlocks ancient secrets. Cutting edge analytical methods decipher molecular clues buried in age-old artifacts, C&EN, Chemical and Engineering News, March 7, 2011, 44-47.

Özbal, H., A. Türkekul Bıyık, L. Thissen, T. Doğan, F. Gerritsen and R. Özbal, 2011: Sütçülerin Öncüleri: Barcın Höyük Keramiklerinde Süt Kalıntıları, 26. Arkeometri Sonuçları Toplantısı 307-317. [download here]

Özbal, R., F.A. Gerritsen, 2011: 2009 Yıllı Barcın Höyük Kazıları, 32. Kazı Sonuçları Toplantısı, vol. 2, 198-208. [download here]

Vayısoğlu, Ö., 2011: Neolitik Çağ’da üretim ekonomisine geçiş. Barcın Höyük Kazıları, Toplumsal Tarih 213 (eylül 2011), 14-18.


Gatsov, I., P. Nedelcheva, R. Özbal and F. Gerritsen, 2010: Prehistoric Barcin Höyük: 2007 Excavations and Chipped Stone Artifact Analysis, in F. Drasovean (ed.), Ten Years After: The Neolithic of the Balkans as Uncovered by the Last Decade of Research, Timisoara, Museum of Banat Publications.

Gerritsen, F.A., 2010: The NIT excavations at Barcın Höyük, 2009, NINO-NIT Annual Report 2009, 11-16. [link]

Gerritsen, F.A., 2010: Excavation campaign Barcın Höyük 2010, NIT Newsletter 2010/2, [link].

Gerritsen, F.A., 2010: Barcın Höyük Excavations, 2008, 31. Kazı Sonuçları Toplantısı, vol. 1, 411-420. [download here]

Gerritsen, F.A., R. Özbal, 2010: Geç Neolitik Tarımcılar / Barcın Höyük, Aktüel Arkeoloji Dergisi 13 (Ocak 2010), 51. [download here]

Gerritsen, F.A., R. Özbal, L. Thissen, H. Özbal, A. Galik, 2010: The Late Chalcolithic Levels at Barcın Höyük, Anatolica 36, 197-225. [download here]

Roodenberg, J., 2010: Byzantine encounters, NINO-NIT Annual Report 2010, 17-21. [link]

Thissen, L., H. Özbal, A. Türkekul Bıyık, F. Gerritsen, R. Özbal, 2010: The land of milk? Approaching dietary preferences of Late Neolithic communities in NW Anatolia, Leiden Journal of Pottery Studies 26, 157-171. [download here]


Alpaslan Roodenberg, S., 2009: Demographic data from the Byzantine graveyard of Barcın, in T. Vorderstrasse & J. Roodenberg (eds), Archaeology of the countryside in Medieval Anatolia, Leiden (PIHANS 113), 169-175.

Gerritsen, F.A., 2009: Opgravingen Barcın Höyük zomer 2009, NIT Nieuwsbrief najaar 2009

Gerritsen, F., R. Özbal, 2009: Barcın Höyük Excavations, 2007, 30. Kazı Sonuçları Toplantısı, vol. 3, 457-464. [download here]

Künzel, M., 2009: Geoarcheologisch onderzoek in Barcın, Turkije, Geo.brief 7,9-11.

Roodenberg, J.J., 2009: The Byzantine graveyards from Ilıpınar and Barcın in Northwest Anatolia, in T. Vorderstrasse & J.Roodenberg (eds), Archaeology of the countryside in Medieval Anatolia, Leiden (PIHANS 113), 154-167.

Schwarzberg, H., 2009: Neolithic “Cult Tables” from Barcın Höyük, Anatolica 35, 167-177.


Gerritsen, F.A., 2008: Barcın Höyük Campagne 2008, NIT Nieuwsbrief najaar 2008 [link].

Korsvoll, N., 2008: Protection in This World and the Next. The Function of Byzantine Grave Goods, unpublished Honours Thesis, University College Utrecht.

Roodenberg, J.J., A. van As and S. Alpaslan Roodenberg, 2008: Barcın Hüyük in the Plain of Yenişehir (2005-2006). A Preliminary Note on the Fieldwork, Pottery and Human Remains of the Prehistoric Levels, Anatolica 34, 53-66.

Türkekul-Bıyık, A., H. Özbal, 2008: Arkeolojik Çanak ve Çömleklerde Organik Kalıntıların Belirlenmesi: Anadolu’dan Bazı Örnekler, 23. Arkeometri Sonuçları Toplantısı, 249-264. [download here]


Gerritsen, F.A., 2007: Opgravingen te Barcın Höyük, NIT Nieuwsbrief najaar 2007 [link].


Mellaart, J., 1955: Some Prehistoric Sites in North-Western Anatolia, Istanbuler Mitteilungen 6, 53-88.

French, D., 1967: Prehistoric Sites in Northwest Anatolia:  I. The İznik Area, Anatolian Studies 17, 49-100.

Özdoğan, M., 1986: 1984 Yılı Trakya ve Doğu Marmara Araştırmaları, Araştırma Sonuçları Toplantısı 3, 409-420. [download here]