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Sinop Archaeological Field Study Program


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The oldest and long the most important of Black Sea colonies, ancient Sinop was home to some of ancient history’s greatest protagonists. The swashbuckling Mithridates VI, the “Poison King,” challenged the growing power of Rome. Diogenes the Cynic, the ascetic philosopher, dared to face down none other than Alexander the Great. This archaeological project, representing a collaboration between Queens College, CUNY, California State University, Northridge, the University of Sheffield (UK) and the Turkish Ministry of Culture, aims to reveal and preserve the archaeology of Sinop – home to a remarkable cast of sultans, saints and sovereigns and the key to unlocking the history of the Black Sea.

Sinop’s historic prominence was due to its strategic location on the Black Sea – the meeting point of the great regional civilizations of the Old World: the Near East, Mediterranean, and Eurasian Steppe. With the only natural harbor on the Turkish Black Sea coast and high cliffs (a natural defense), Sinop controlled east-west and north-south communication and trade routes in the Black Sea for 2,500 years from the rise of Classical Greece and Rome until the Crimean War in the mid-1800s. By a miracle of history or fate, ancient Sinop remains pristine and in excellent condition, unlike many famous sites from antiquity. Importantly, it has never been systematically and comprehensively excavated until now.

This fund will support our research and the participation of students from CUNY and elsewhere to reveal and preserve the heritage of the city the famous Roman geographer Strabo called “the most noteworthy of the cities of the world.” While our team has obtained several competitive grants, these grants are generally not renewable. A stable base of support is necessary for providing scholarships to students and ensuring the long-term excavation and responsible stewardship of the site.

The Sinop Kale [citadel] Excavations are part of the broader Sinop Regional Archaeological Project (SRAP), led by Prof. Dr. Owen Doonan of CSU Northridge and Prof. Dr. Alexander Bauer of Queens College CUNY, which has been establishing a new standard for regionally-organized archaeological research in the Black Sea region of Turkey over the past 25 years. Supported by renowned research foundations like the National Geographic Society and the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities, SRAP has documented several hundred sites ranging from Paleolithic to Ottoman in date across the rugged Sinop promontory. SRAP began rescue excavations at the Sinop kale in 2015.

 

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