From Issus to Rhosus: an assessment of settlement dynamics in the Hellenistic countryside
Olson, Brandon R.
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The Seleucid Empire (312–63 BCE) of the Hellenistic period was one of the largest and most ethnically diverse imperial systems of the classical world. Owing to the limited coverage of archaeological surveys and inadequately dated archaeological remains, however, very little is known about the Hellenistic and, specifically, Seleucid countryside. In this dissertation, I draw on two landscape-based archaeological surveys conducted in Hatay Province of south-central Turkey, the Mopsos Survey and the Yumurtalık Survey, and focus on three contiguous and naturally bounded coastal plains (Rhosus, Alexandreia, and Issus). Additionally, I present a full analysis and chronological revision of ceramics stemming from these surveys. I bring these two primary classes of evidence together to explore settlement dynamics in the Hellenistic countryside across discrete chronological periods: Early Hellenistic (300–225 BCE); Middle Hellenistic (225–150 BCE); Late Hellenistic (150–25 BCE); Early Roman (25 BCE–40 CE); and Middle Roman 1 (40–130 CE). To assess ancient settlement dynamics — here defined as variations in the configuration of human occupation across a given space — I employ archaeological survey data capable of reflecting settlement size, location, distribution, and quantity as well as physical landscape considerations such as the availability of natural resources and proximity to overland and maritime trading routes. This dissertation demonstrates that it is possible to pursue topics of study within the Hellenistic era and outside the major urban spheres using survey data and a detailed reading of associated ceramics with updated typologies. The Hellenistic countryside of south-central Turkey had different demographic trajectories, which ultimately led to different configurations of settlement within the three plains studied. From a regional perspective, this work has explained and delineated a settlement change first identified by early-to-mid twentieth century travelers and archaeologists. It has also heeded the calls of recent scholars bemoaning the poor state of archaeological evidence reflecting the Seleucid countryside by devising methods that, for the first time, give the Seleucid realm a discrete periodization scheme for areas outside well-studied urban spheres, thereby fostering a new avenue of scholarly inquiry.