The archaeology of deforestation in south coastal Turkey

Akkemik U. , Caner H., Conyers G. A. , Dillon M. J. , Karlioglu N., Rauh N. K. , ...More

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND WORLD ECOLOGY, vol.19, no.5, pp.395-405, 2012 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 19 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/13504509.2012.684363
  • Page Numbers: pp.395-405


The Rough Cilicia Archaeological Survey Project investigates landscape transformation as a component to its regional survey of ancient Rough Cilicia (south coastal Turkey opposite Cyprus). Rough Cilicia was celebrated during antiquity for pristine cedar forests that stood between 1500 and 1800 m in altitude along the slopes of the Taurus Mountains. Today along the front range of the Taurus Mountains this forest is completely denuded or otherwise replanted with recent growth in the past 80 years. We employ paleoenvironmental analysis of relic cedar forests in the Taurus Mountains to construct a timeline of anthropogenic disturbances associated with population growth over time and thereby assess the sustainability of ancient forestry practices. To obtain these data, the team recovers pollen and carbon samples from geomorphologic trenches excavated in the cedar zone, tree ring data from dendrochronological survey of the existing forest, and archaeological data from remains of ancient highland settlements. Preliminary results indicate that current perspectives about the timing of deforestation in this region are flawed and that the initial deforestation coincided with regional site abandonment and population decline at the end of antiquity.