Modern and ancient olive stands near Sagalassos (south-west Turkey) and reconstruction of the ancient agricultural landscape in two valleys


Marleen Vermoere, Gentste Heerweg 48, B-8790, Waregem, Belgium, E-mail:


Aim To study the present-day olive stands and their ecology in the eastern part of the territory of the ancient city of Sagalassos, to study the variation of olive pollen production and dispersal near the olive stands, to establish a modern pollen reference model, and to compare Hellenistic–Roman pollen data from two wetlands with this modern reference model.

Location Eastern part of the territory of the ancient city of Sagalassos, western Taurus mountain range in south-west Turkey.

Methods The study is based on field survey, pollen analysis of surface samples, multivariate statistics of modern pollen data and the use of ‘modern analogues’ in comparison with Hellenistic–Roman pollen samples.

Results A field survey revealed the presence of 35 olive stands in the study area. These are mainly small-scale stands. The olive pollen representation in the surface samples is highly variable. Two groups of modern ‘olive’ pollen spectra could be distinguished: (1) a group representing mainly olive stands from lush and moist mixed orchards; and (2) a group representing mainly olive stands from open small-scale olive stands in combination with annual crop agriculture. Although no ‘perfect’ modern analogue was found for the Hellenistic–Roman pollen data, the fossil pollen data show similarities with modern spectra from the second group, due to the presence of relatively high pollen values for secondary anthropogenic indicators.

Main conclusion A well-organized and diverse, but time- and energy-consuming, agricultural system was maintained nearby the wetlands of Çanaklı soils, presumably to maximize the yields in both valleys.