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Relationships between topography and Kerkenes (Turkey), a GIS analysis

Çayırezmez, Nurdan Atalan
This study investigates the effect of topography in ancient city “Kerkenes” using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Kerkenes, an Iron Age city located on a batholith in Yozgat province, Turkey, was chosen because of its exceptional size, short life and the availability of extensive data. Approximately seven kilometres of city wall in Kerkenes, including towers and seven gates, enclose 2.5 km². The research comprises topographic analysis and settlement data analysis. Elevation values collected by Global Positioning System (GPS) and 1:25000 scaled topographic maps are used to create and analyze elevation, slope and aspect maps. Basic statistics of the city wall, towers and gates are calculated and a procedure is then followed to examine the city wall, towers and gates to understand reasons for the line of the city wall, the uneven distribution of gates, the position of each individual gate, the positions and spacing of towers, and the water catchments. Advantages of the elevated site of Kerkenes for the foundation of a new capital within the region are demonstrated. The GPS data do not show statistically significant differences then the 1:25000 scaled topographic maps in regional scale, especially analyzing the elevation and slope data. Topographic analyses reveal that approximately 75% of the city wall coincides with the topographic divide which shows the city walls may serve both for urban water collection and for defence. City wall has divided into two as East section and West section by a north-south axis from the north end point of the city. There are 41 and 27 towers are detected on the West and East section, respectively. Towers on the West section are more closely spaced than the East section. There are also two and five gates in the West and East section, respectively. The East section of the city wall overlaps with the topographic divide only in the northeastern part. This situation can not be traced along the southeastern part of Kerkenes which may be the reason to include the strategically important two higher altitude areas (Kiremitlik and Kale) inside the city. The city wall in the West section, however, runs along the topographic divide which affects the number and the distribution of the towers.