Kestel / Sarituzla Madeni
Location: It is located on the eastern side of the Kuruçay Stream and the slope galleries (mines) on the hills stretching along the stream; 1.5-2.5 km west of the Celaller Village; 4 km southwest of the Çamardi District; 31 km southeast of the Nigde Province as the crow flies. It covers an area of pottery on the southern slope of the hill and an open air atelier for crashing ores with many pits on the C2 mines.
Geography and Environment: The western part of Celaller Village has a wavy appearance; separated by small streams usually drying in summer and stretching along the north-south direction. The excavations conducted in the mine; called the Kestel Deligi (Hole) by the local villagers; in 1991-1992 by British mining archaeologists yielded a very large and long gallery complex exceeding 1.5 km. It was opened to obtain both iron and tin. Tin ores in this region are in the form of quartz veins with hematite and tourmaline cutting Gneiss granite and granitized edge cuts of granite [Drahor 1993:39].
Research and Excavation: The project started in 1973 under the name “Metallurgical History of Turkey and the Origin of Tin” by the Institute of Metalurgical Investigations and Research in order to find out a solution to the shortage of tin went on until 1983. In 1983; the project combined with the project of “Production and Use of Silver in Anatolia during the Prehistoric Ages” conducted by the Bozphorus University was accelerated when tin mines were discovered at Taurus Mountains in 1987; and working system and dating of the ateliers and mines (galleries) of the Kestel Deligi located in the Celaller region were disclosed both by architectural and scientific applications by 1994. The cultural deposit of the floors in the galleries was excavated. Same researches yielded the relationship between the mine quarry of the Kestel Deligi and Göltepe settlement located 2 km away. Runners of this mine; undoubtedly; were settled in Göltepe [Kaptan 1989:1-2; Yener 1989:17-21] (See. Göltepe). It takes place in the registered archaeological sites list prepared by Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Stratigraphy: 1. Mine of the Kestel Deligi: The excavations conducted in the galleries revealed pottery of EBA; suspectfully MBA; Iron Age and Byzantine Period; so it is understood that the mine was in use during those periods. It is impossible to determine which one was opened during which period. 2. Sherds recovered from a spread area on the southern side of the hill expose that the atelier located here was; even tough uncertain; at least in use from EBA. This uncertainty is augmented by the presence of sherds dating to the Late Roman/Early Byzantine Periods. 3. Open Air Atelier for Crashing Ores with Many Pits: It is certain that 861 small pits opened on a marble ground within an area of ca. 570 square meters on the mine called the Kestel Deligi and identified as C2 by the researchers [Kaptan 1990:16] were used for ore crashing.
Small Finds: Pottery: Pottery of Byzantine Period was recovered as well as of EBA spread out on the slopes in the surrounding territory. A small sounding carried out in the floor of the gallery of C2 mine quarry yielded amazing finds of prehistoric pottery at 63 cm depth. A. Yener dated dark coloured burnished and unburnished ware as well as thick-walled; coarse grit tempered ware to the Late Chalcolithic Age while dating red-black burnished; fine pasted ware to EBA in his first publications [Yener 1989:19]. Group of wares identified as dark colored includes slightly out-turning necked jugs and deep bowls while red-black washed ware included very light carinated bowls and bowls without carinaton. A. Yener also reports the presence of Syrian-type metallic ware [Yener 1994:fig.7] In the latest publications of Kestel; there is a tendency to date all of the finds to EBA in parallel to Göltepe. Ground Stone: Same sounding conducted in the accumulated earth on the ground of the gallery yielded hundreds of crashing and grinding tools. Again; it is not possible to date all to EBA. Metal: A metallic pin with a broken tip was recovered. Bone/Antler: Presence of metallic tools made of deer bones is reported [Yener 1994:fig.4]. Naturally; it is difficult to be dated. Human Remains: The earth inside the galleries of mine quarry was started to be excavated from 1991 under the experts of the mining archaeology came from England. This excavation yielded a mass burial with five skeletons probably belonging to teenagers aged between 12 and 15 in a closed gallery. The grave was built by stones and plastered. A. Yener trusts that they are EBA people [Yener 1993:235]. 1992 excavations also yielded disarticulated human bones [Yener 1994:202]. Pottery considered as grave goods is dated to EBA by the excavator. They are told to belong to children and young people aged between 5 and 18. The graves they were buried are of simple pit burials; pithos graves; cist graves and chamber graves which were informed to be severely damaged [Yener 1994:202-203; fig.2].
Interpretation and Dating: Sherds recovered during a sounding carried out in the galleries revealed that many of the galleries opened on the slopes of the Kuruçay Stream between Büyük Ardiç and Kestane Sirti were started at the end of EBA (Phase III). Slags found inside and outside the quarry expose that probably mine workers who lived in Göltepe ran this quarry and used it both as a kitchen and cemetery if needed; crushed the rocks inside the galleries firstly by heating; and then cracking by spilling cold water onto them; and prepared the ores for casting after forging them in the open air or hut/tent-like shelters set in the environment. Coals recovered from the sounding opened in C2 quarry and found 63 cm depth below the gallery floor helped to determine the date of 14C which corresponds to an uncalibrated range from 2880 to 2200 BC. Analysis of earth samples including ore particles documented the fact that EBA people certainly produced cassiterite (ore of tin) together with hematite (ore of iron). In the same age (?); using mine quarries as a cemetery is very interesting. Furthermore; vast majority of those burials belonging to children is of particular interest. Were these children used when the galleries were opened? No information is provided about the grave goods. Therefore; it is very difficult to date them to EBA. Likewise; lack of documents prevents to claim that the ateliers belong to that period. Kestel is the first archaeologically excavated mine.