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Keywords: Sinop, Second Millennium B.C., New Archaeological Evidence

During the 1980s Archaeological research began to be carried out in Sinop Province. Until that time, it was an unexplored part of Anatolia (terra incognita) but since research efforts began our knowledge of the 2nd Millennium BC in Sinop Province has increased. M.A. Işın and İ. Tatlıcan conducted one of the most effective surveys in this province. They found Middle Bronze Age pottery at Köşk Höyük, Tıngır Tepe and Mezarlık Tepe. The most important centre surveyed during this project is Hıdırlı Cemetery. Hıdırlı Cemetery yielded a large number of metal objects and pieces of jewellery. The metal objects have been dated to the Middle Bronze Age by Ö. Bilgi, as this period is known to be contemporary with the First (I) Cultural Layer, Middle Bronze Age I- II (Pre-Hittite Period), that is the Transition Period at İkiztepe.

During the surveys in Sinop Province I had the opportunity to investigate already known sites but also discovered many new settlements. During these surveys Middle Bronze Age I-II pottery was found at Tıngır Tepe, Boyalı İkiztepe I, Pazar Tepesi, Maltepe-Emiryayla and Bayram Tepesi. During the survey period I managed to make a few visits to Hıdırlı Cemetery, a site I consider to be very important. If detailed analysis was to be done on its metal objects, I believe Hıdırlı Cemetery could fill the chronological gap following the period of the İkiztepe Early Bronze Age II-III Cemetery. Hıdırlı Cemetery probably dates to the Middle Bronze Age I-II and therefore proves that the tradition of graveyard burials with metal objects continued into the 2nd Millennium BC.

In addition to the surveys mentioned above, I was invited to the Boyabat- Kovuklukaya rescue excavation led by Musa Özcan, the current director of Sinop Museum. I was given responsibility for Trench 5 where we found a building with a substructure built from flat stones. This architectural tradition, along with the pottery’ and the small finds, provided us with new and important data about the 2nd Millennium BC in the Sinop Region.

In Sinop city cemre, a spearhead and a pin were found during an excavation at the foundation of the Kız Öğretmen Okulu (Girls' Teacher Training School). These two objects, which were dated to the Middle Bronze Age by Ö. Bilgi, are very important finds because they indicate a possible 2nd Millennium BC settlement or a cemetery in Sinop city centre. Another object, also dated to the Middle Bronze Age by Ö. Bilgi, is a spearhead found at Lala Village. During surveys carried out under the directorship of F.J. Hiebert, some Middle Bronze Age potsherds were found at Nohutluk- Güllüavlu (Hacıoğlu). All these finds indicate that there were a large number of settlements and cemeteries in Sinop Province and the surrounding region during the Assyrian Trading Colonies Period.

In spite of research that would suggest otherwise, no Old Hittite or Hittite Empire objects were found in any of the surveys and excavations conducted in Sinop Prorince but two lugged axes found in the villages of Bülbül and Dibekli, have been dated to the Late Bronze Age (Hittite Empire Period) by Ö. Bilgi.

As well as archaeological finds, philological evidence also needs to be considered in order to understand Sinop in the 2nd Millennium BC. Almost the only contemporary written source on this region was the Hittite texts. From the Hittite texts we learn that several people groups lived in the Southern Black Sea coastal region, such as the Kaška (Gašga), Pala, Tummana, Kalašma, Hulana, Kaštama, Kaššiya and many others. The most powerful of these people were the Kaška, who are known to have lived north of the Hittite Empire, possibly in the area corresponding to that covered by Sinop Prorince today.

Based on sound similarities, some scholars think that the place Šinuua in the Hittite texts may correspond to Sinop. However, I think assumptions should not be made based only on sound similarities without some evidence from historical/geographical facts. Unfortunately, no Hittite setdement has yet been identified in the area. In addition to the Šinuua -Sinop correlation it has been suggested that the rivers Dahara or Šarija from the Hittite texts can be correlated with today’s Gökırmak.

While there are approximately 2000 settlements of varying sizes in Northern Anatolia mentioned by name in the written sources of the Hittites, we have only located a couple of hundred settlements. In addition, one settlement in the coastal area belongs to the Pre-Hittite Assyrian Trading Colonies Period. Future research will inevitablly increase the number of known 2nd Millennium BC settlements in the area but the current number falls far short of the numbers mentioned in the Hittite texts. It is therefore likely that there were many 2nd Millennium BC settlements contemporary with the Assyrian Trading Colonies in the Black Sea Region in general and especially die coastal regions, particularly Sinop. These settlements did not survive until the present day mostly because wood was used extensively in building construction. This use of wood as a construction material probably means that, especially in the coastal area, settlements dated to the Old Hittite and Hittite Empire periods also did not survive, although another possibility is that the dense vegetation of the region has covered them up.

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