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What Kinds of "Things" are There on Dana Island?


South wall of Church 4 on Dana Island

There are two separate settlements on Dana Island: one along the northwest coast (lower settlement) and one at the southern summit of the island and its environs (upper settlement). Surface finds (ceramic, metal, glass, coins, etc.) and architectural remains, which were systematically documented, showed us that the lower settlement on the northwest coast was not actively used in the Early Roman (mid-first century BCE-mid-third century CE) and the main formation and development of the settlement dated from late antiquity, i.e. mid-fourth-eighth centuries. Again, these data indicate that the most active period of the settlement was in the fifth and sixth centuries CE. As a matter of fact, the six churches that we have identified so far in the lower settlement were built during this most active period of late antiquity. Similarly, another church was added to the south fortress, which was the focal point of the upper settlement and whose first phase can probably be dated to the pre-Classical Age. Perhaps parallel to the church, the fortress has also undergone major repairs and rebuilding.

The most notable feature of the lower settlement is the limestone quarries that cover virtually the entire area behind the settlement. The quarries start at the upper limits of the settlement, approximately 45-360 meters inland from the shore, and extend up to the upper elevations perpendicular or parallel to the slope. This quarry area, which is a very important example for understanding the Roman-Late Antique building industry in Cilicia, can be followed in the northeast-southwest direction for approximately 1.4 km. Stone quarries were used as burial grounds simultaneously or in later phases. The quarry surfaces were subsequently used as the foundations and the main walls of the structures, once stone extraction was completed.

The rectangular recesses/intrusions, sloping surfaces, channels, walls, etc., which BOGA identified on the northwest coast of the island in the 2011 season are actually archaeological remains of a complex human activity. There are remnants of different uses on these surfaces that were altered by human hands rather than by waves. Some of these are ramps were used for loading limestone blocks onto boats. A second part of the settlement pertains to the foundations of structures whose functions are impossible to determine. Among these structures, the functions of which are known, include a Roman/Late Roman bath and a church, located only 10-15 meters inland from the current shoreline.


A bath on the shoreline of Dana Island


Church 2 on the coast of Dana Island

Coastal remains also include small-scale quarries. As a matter of fact, behind the lower settlement, one can observe the types of channels, cuts, holes, and toolmarks similar to those observed on the coast.


Remains of a quarry on the northwest coast of Dana Island


A roughly quarried stone and extraction channels all around, on the coast of Dana Island

Due to earthquakes and wave erosion, the northwestern coast of the island collapsed and rose. Coastal settlement began with a small population in the Early Roman Period (60 BCE-250 CE). It is an area that is easily accessible, thus quite suitable for looting. Because of this, only the foundations of the structures remain. As was the case with Boğsak Island, many residences, churches, bathhouses, shops, guesthouses, etc. were built from the fourth century CE onward. The cisterns and warehouses along  the coast could be interpreted as an indicator of the active maritime transport in which Dana partook. On long maritime journeys, the most important  need was water rather than food. An example of this comes from Kitab-ı Bahriye in the sixteenth century, in which  Piri Reis states that drinking water can be obtained from Dana  Island's cisterns. At this time, the island settlement had already been abandoned, but the cisterns were obviously still maintained and used.

3D model of the cistern integrated with the building walls on Dana Island

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