Middle-Iron Houses

The second area of excavation in 2009 was a 250 m2 exposure in the southeast quadrant of the site. The 2008 survey found very little evidence of Period I (modern) pottery or architecture here, suggesting that the Middle Iron Age deposits are close to the surface. Moreover, the survey did locate several small stone walls that probably belonged to a series of Iron Age houses, along with large quantities of Oglanqala II, IIIa and IIIb pottery and small finds in this area, including metal nails and beads.

The 2009 excavations uncovered the remains of two small, two-room structures and an extensive outdoor area filled with small hearths and grinding stones. This outside space was probably where the men and women in 8th century Oglanqala spent much of their time. The two structures are semi-subterranean— their floors were dug into the mountain side so that the floors inside the house are at least 30 cm lower than the outside surface. Similar subterranean houses are known both archaeologically and ethnographically in the Southern Caucasus and Eastern Anatolia.

It is possible that these two structures served two different purposes. The two-roomed construction to the north, Structure 1, in square DA051 had walls made of two rows of large, unworked boulders and occupies an area of 24 m2 (258 sq ft) (Figure 1). Only one course of stones was preserved, and no beaten clay floor was found here, unlike in the other construction, structure 2. Although structure 1 is small, it is possible that it never served for human habitation, but instead was an enclosure for a few animals. Structure 2, on the other hand, was probably a house (Figure 2). Unlike Structure 1, it was not excavated in its entirety, and it presumably continues to the west; the excavated portions of Structure 2 comprise 34.6m2 (372 sq ft). Structure 2 was cut into the side of the mountain, making the floor slope slightly and also causing the N-S wall to be stepped up. Three walls of the house were well-preserved, while erosion had destroyed most of the southern wall, although we were able to identify a few stones that probably once comprised this wall. The north-south wall was preserved five courses high, while the two east-west walls were only preserved two courses high. The floor of the house was made of very hard, beaten clay. A hearth was found in the middle of the southern room, and a small work area with some jar sherds and a caprid jawbone was found in the southwest corner of this room. Although structure 2 had been carefully cleaned prior to abandonment, the ceramics found on the floor of this room, as well as on the external surfaces to the east, indicate a Middle Iron Age date for this area.

If structure 1 is an animal enclosure, this along with the ephemeral nature of these constructions might indicate that the inhabitants of this area of Oğlanqala were seasonal pastoralists rather than permanent farmers. The analysis of the animal bones found in this area has only just begun, but Hannah Lau has found support, in the abundance of sheep and goat bones, for the theory that herding was an important activity at Oglanqala.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3