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Elaia, Pergamum's maritime satellite - how a logistic hub depends on its environmental surroundings

Lecture by Dr. Martin Seeliger (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt).

2018.11.26 | Lasse Rievers Olesen

Date Tue 22 Jan
Time 16:00 17:00
Location Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet), Aarhus University, Moesgård Allé 20, 8270 Højbjerg, Denmark (Building 4230-232).


Throughout human history, communication and trade had been key to societies. As maritime trade facilitates the rapid transportation of passengers and freight at relatively low costs, harbours became hubs for traffic, trade, and exchange. This general statement also holds true for the Pergamenian Kingdom, which ruled wide parts of today’s western Turkey during Hellenistic times. Its harbour, located nearby at the city of Elaia on the eastern Aegean coast, was extensively used for commercial and military purposes.

We used micropalaeontological, sedimentological, and geochemical proxies to reconstruct the palaeoenvironmental dynamics and evolution of the three ancient harbour zones of the city. A special focus herewith is set on the determination and interpretation of microfossils as they present a precise tool for deciphering former environmental conditions in the transition zone between sea and land and for modelling ancient sea-level heights. 

Our results confirm the archaeological and historical evidence of Elaia’s prime during Hellenistic and early Roman times, and the city’s gradual decline during the late Roman period. Furthermore, this study demonstrates that Elaia holds a unique position as a harbour city during ancient times in the eastern Aegean region because it was nearly uninfluenced by the high sediment supply associated with a river delta. Subsequently, no dredging of the harbour basins is documented, therefore creating exceptional geo-bio-archives for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions.

History and archaeology, Lecture/talk