French notes that future monographs would examine the phases of discontinuity at the site (unique in the south and western Anatolian record) in greater detail, and provide a discussion of ceramic and environmental evidence -- the second volume in the series, under assessment here, focuses on the ceramics. We also learn (French 1998, p. 13) that the artifact collection methods varied according to the artifact class -- all chipped stone lithic artifacts were retained but only a portion of the ground stone objects and the diagnostic ceramics were kept. Fortunately, the discarded materials were reburied at the site.
Canhasan Sites 2. Canhasan I: The Pottery begins with an introductory chapter (p. 1-11) in which French presents an outline of the volume, discusses his scheme of data presentation and illustrations, elaborates the "grading" of the pottery and value of the sherds, and documents the storage of the pottery and creation of the lead-pencil sherd drawings. His meticulous and rigorous excavation procedures and subsequent laboratory methodologies are elaborated. Chapter 2: The Pottery (pp. 13-33) includes a synopsis of the pottery wares (Neolithic through Byzantine) and detailed descriptions of the ceramics for all seven Chalcolithic layers. The format for the latter includes: Illustrations; Fabric and Surface, and Colour Codes; Shapes and Features; Decoration (if present); and Comment. There is a full catalogue of the best-preserved and most important pieces in Chapter 3: Catalogue of Registered Pottery, which has 193 entries (pp. 35-54). Chapter 4: Tables and Concordances (pp. 55-82) comprises four tables: layer, ware and grade for 11 layers (pp. 55-58); 144 registered pottery vessels (p. 59); 2,501 unregistered pottery sherds (pp. 60-71); and 880 concordances of registered pottery to catalog numbers and figures (pp. 72-82). A major feature of this volume is the drawings of the 2,501 less well-preserved pieces, which illustrate all the characteristic shapes and types of decoration (figures, pp. 83-283 and plates pp. 284-293). Color analysis of vessels and sherds follows the Munsell system but then French employs non-Munsell terminology (Orange, Buff, Brown, and Pink etc.) to designate ware, group, and subgroups. The subgroups are delineated by surface treatments such as painting, burnishing, and incision. The pottery fabrics are characterized by color and inadequately described using terms such as very fine clay, grainy or gritty clay, grit inclusions, some chaff, minute mica particles, white (calcite?) particles, multiple inclusions, etc. Unfortunately, there has apparently been no attempt to evaluate the fabrics/pastes and tempers or aplastics through the use of binocular microscopy or the preferred thin-section petrography that has been in use since the 1930s. The appearance of calcite seems to be as natural inclusions in the clay. Chaff-tempering is defined as "tiny fragments of finely chopped straw" (p. xiv). In my analyses of Southwest Asian and Central Asian archaeological and ethnographic ceramics with Fred Matson (Emeritus Professor of Ceramics and Emeritus Professor of Archaeology, The Pennsylvania State University), I would suggest that this "chaff-temper" is actually dung temper and that the "finely chopped" straw is straw passed through the digestive systems of sheep or goat (Ovis/Capra). However, we are not informed about the presence of wild, semi-domesticated, or domesticated animals at Canhasan, but if the straw is in the 2-10 mm range, I would consider this as a likely alternative. Lastly, information about the site and regional geology and pedology are not characterized, and no clay samples have been collected or petrographically assessed.
However, this volume presents a vast amount of descriptive data about the Chalcolithic pottery, but information about a key layer, the Early Chalcolithic, is minimal. As French summarizes: "the pottery to be associated with Layer 3, therefore, cannot be defined" (p. 18). From his descriptions, I have created the following tabulations:
G1 Black/Red Ware: 3 subgroups based on surface treatments
G2 Scored Ware
G3 Red Patterned [Ware]
G4 White Coated/Patterned [Ware]
G5 Buff/Brown Plain Ware
G6 Red Wash (internal) + Scoring (external) [Ware]
G7 Rough Ware
F1 Dark Brown/Red Patterned Ware: 1 subgroup based on surface treatments
F2 Dark Brown Red Patterned [Ware]: 3 subgroups based on surface treatments
F3 Red-Brown [Ware]: 2 subgroups based on surface treatments
F4 Buff [Ware]: 2 subgroups based on surface treatments
E1 Brown/Red Patterned [Ware]
E2 Buff-Grey Burnished [Ware]: 2 subgroups based on surface treatments
E3 Dark Brown [Ware]: 3 subgroups based on surface treatments
E4 Red Wash [Ware] ("Pink Ware")
E5 Buff and Orange [Ware]
E6 Two-Coloured Patterned [Ware] ("Polychrome Ware")
D1 Red Patterned [Ware]: 4 subgroups based on surface treatments
D2 Red/Black Matte Painted Ware ("Imported Ware")
D3 Brown/Black Patterned [Ware]: 4 subgroups based on surface treatments
D4 Buff/Grey Ware: 2 subgroups based on surface treatments
D5 Brown/Red Ware: 2 subgroups based on surface treatments
D6 Brown/Buff Ware: 2 subgroups based on surface treatments
A unique element of French's analysis is a careful grading of the material in terms of chronological reliability. Only compete or nearly whole vessels found on floors are regarded as contemporaneous. Related pottery may be accepted as contemporary, but with less certainty, while French treats unrelated wares with circumspection, since they may be either recycled from earlier layers or intrusive from later occupations. He states that:
The failure to find extensive groups of pots in situ has bedeviled the interpretation of the stratigraphic sequence at Canhasan. Faced with a fearsome quantity of material I have been bemused by the bewildering variety of surface treatments and colours and by the difficulties in categorizing multiple variations of single decorative techniques. Mistakes of attribution are undoubtedly present in the account which follows below. In several cases the same sherd was assigned, before a final decision was taken, to different wares. It is hoped that mis-attributions such as these have largely been corrected but errors no doubt remain undetected.. . . The reader is here advised to treat the account of the Canhasan pottery with some caution and to assess the divisions and conflations, presented below, as no more than provisional, until the discovery, on future excavations, of complete vessels located, one hopes in some quantity, on floors that can be associated with a series of structures vertically or even horizontally stratified--as, in 1961, was the original aim and objective of the Canhasan excavations." (p. vi)
French is certainly honest and forthright but leaves the reader in a quandary.
Neither of the published volumes presents the reader with an understanding of the inhabitants and their life ways. We are not informed about the numbers, arrangements, functions, and dimensions of the rooms, courtyards, and passageways. Towards the end of the Neolithic in Central Anatolia, communities are perceived generally as being constituted by relatively autonomous and homologous households occupying discrete residences and performing most domestic activities within the house. These settlements became bounded only by the end of the Neolithic in Central Anatolia as seen at Asikli Höyük and Çatalhöyük.3 It appears that the settlement pattern remained the same for the Chalcolithic period. Hopefully, the future publications on Canhasan will undertake the assessment of these concerns and identify room functions and define the activities and life ways of the inhabitants. Clearly, there must be work rooms, sleeping quarters, and storage areas such as are found in important sites of the Chalcolithic period, notably Hacilar, Beycesultan, Alisar, Alacahöyük, Kuruçay, Mersin, Yumuktepe, Elazig Tepecik, Malatya, Degirmentepe, Norsuntepe, and Fikirtepe.
In sum, the monographic series illustrates a very traditional approach to site excavation and artifact analyses, and serves as a reminder about the changes that have taken place in archaeological field and laboratory methods and reporting. French is meticulous and what he presents is clear and explicit but he is self-critiquing, lamenting, for example, the brevity and the lack of details in his reports. Nonetheless, seminal work by Gordon Hillman and Sebastian Payne on Neolithic plant and animal remains provides us with a better understanding of regional subsistence and ecology. In spite of any drawbacks, we are fortunate to have French's analysis of the pottery for this important site.
Canhasan I. Six dates from Canhasan I stem from a possibly single, or short-term event, viz. the burning and collapse of the W and E rooms of House 3 during the last subphase of Layer 2B (P-794, P-795, P-790, P-791, P-792 and P-793). P-793 must be intrusive, as it is too young, and may very well be related to the Middle Chalcolithic Canhasan Layer 1 occupation, as suggested on the chart (see below -- Canhasan I layer 1 entry). A combination of the remaining dates fails at 5% in a X2-test due to P-794. Leaving this early date out yields a combined range of 5710-5640 cal BC, with an agreement of 102.9%. No dates being available for Layers 7-3, the beginning of Canhasan I at approximately 6000 cal BC should be considered tentative. Layer 2A is represented by a single date P-789, predating the Layer 2B range gained supra, and is therefore not used in the chart (cf. also the comment in the database).
Canhasan I, Layer 1 (Middle Chalcolithic) Canhasan I, Layer 1 has not provided any radiocarbon dates, and the one date used here (P-793) is in fact stemming from Layer 2B where it is a clear outlier to the other 2B dates (see Canhasan comment supra). We consider P-793 as a possible intrusion from Layer 1 into Layer 2B.