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Tarsus Collection

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: BMC-Tarsus

Scope and Contents

The Tarsus Collection contains records from the Cilicia, Reconnaissance of 1934, and the Gözlü Kule-Tarsus excavations, both in Turkey, of 1935–1939, and 1947–1949. The collection mostly contains the raw and processed data from the excavations ¬– notebooks, photographs, card catalogues and inventories, etc. This detailed and expansive collection provides valuable insight into the specifics of the Tarsus excavations led by Hetty Goldman, the first women to lead an archaeological excavation at the time.

There are thirteen series in the collection. They are: the 1: Tarsus Files, 2: Tarsus Research Notes, 3: Tarsus Research Cards, 4: Tarsus Inventory Books, 5: Tarsus Pottery Inventory, 6: Tarsus Catalogue Cards, 7: Tarsus Slides, 8: Tarsus Negative Books, 9: Tarsus Photographic Negatives, 10: Tarsus Prints from Negatives, 11: Tarsus Publication Materials, 12: Tarsus Excavation Notebooks, and 13: Tarsus Plans. The series are arranged based predominantly on the type of material being archived. All negatives in one series, all site notebooks in another, and so forth. The contents of each series is generally arranged chronologically.

Most of the collection consists of boxes of individual index cards or photographs documenting single objects. These include series 3, 6, 7, 9, and 10. Each notecard provides information about the object including date, location, and description, and many of the photographs have additional handwritten notes. Series 5 contains seven small, handwritten notebooks that record each photographic negative. This material would be most useful if researching a specific object or type of object collected during the Tarsus Excavations. The remaining series contain notebooks, letters, and drawings which were used to collect and record the raw information before it was organized and condensed as card-catalogue inventories or as published articles and books. The materials in these series (1, 2, 4, 8, 11, and 12) are predominantly hand-written, and were likely produced at the Tarsus site itself.

This collection documents the detailed archaeological work that took place during an early and important excavation in the history of the discipline. Of particular interest is the excavations direct relationship to Hetty Goldman, one of the pioneers in the field. The material reflects the archaeological method, training, and research that Goldman and her associates brought to Tarsus and to the field of archaeology in the first half of the twentieth century.


  • Creation: 1934 – 1963


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Access

Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the Archives with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.

Biographical / Historical

The Tarsus Archaeological Collection began with an expedition to Cilicia (southern Turkey) in the Spring and Summer of 1934 (April 19 – July 25); the expedition was initiated and sponsored by Bryn Mawr College. The purpose was to conduct a preliminary study of archaeological sites in the Cilician plain (to the east of the harbor town of Mersin) with the intention of selecting one site for future excavation. The expedition included Hetty Goldman as field director, Dr. Emil O. Forrer as adviser on sites, Bay Halil Kamil (director of the Adana Museum), and assistants Ann M. Hoskin and Robert W. Ehrich. They visited forty-one sites and undertook soundings at four: the mounds at Zeytin, Kabarsa, Domus Tepe (ancient Pyramos), and Tarsus.

The scholarly impetus to explore Cilicia was “…the new discovery of Mycenean pottery in Cilician coastal sites and the renewed historical discussions of Hittite references to Mycenaean Greeks (Achaeans) as Ahhiyawa. This identification was first advocated by Emil Forrer in his 1924 article and debated as the ‘Ahhiyawa question’ by Aegean and Hittite scholars alike.” In addition to the issue of the prehistory of Cilicia, Bryn Mawr College was also interested in providing excavation experience for its students. (Mellink and Quinn, 320)

The team selected Tarsus, situated in the fertile Cilician plain, as the most promising for future excavation, specifically an impressive mound called Gözlü Kule (22 meters high and over 300 yards long) on the edge of the modern town. It was a site that had seen occupation from the Neolithic through the Islamic periods, with a few interruptions.

The intensive excavation of the Tarsus mound began in 1935 and yielded exciting results. After clearing away contemporary debris, they discovered remains from the Islamic period, Roman and Hellenistic periods, the Iron, and late Bronze Ages. The most remarkable finds, however, confirmed the site’s historical connection with the Hittite empire—a clay bulla with a seal impression. “The excavations exposed sections of a Hittite building, on the highest part of the mound, a sample of Hittite Empire pottery and bullae with impressions of Hittite hieroglyphic stamp seals. The principal bulla was marked with the seal of Išputahšu previously known from the Boğazköy archives as king of Kizuwatna. The discovery of the bulla with seal promptly linked Tarsus with the archives of the Hittite capital. This bulla is bilingual, with the name Išputahšu on the outer rim in Akkadian cuneiform. Hittitologists began to comment on Tarsus-Tarša and Adana-Adaniya in Cilician and Kizuwatnan contexts.” (Mellink and Quinn, 323) It was also in 1935 that they found the renowned crystal statuette, a “fine piece of Hittite art” that is comparable to Hittite sculpture in the round. (Mellink and Quinn, 323) Toward the end of the 1935 campaign they had isolated an area with good stratification that began at ca. 1000 B.C.E., which was suitable for the purpose of their work, to establish the cultural sequence in Cilicia for prehistoric times.

In March of 1936 the excavation of Gözlü Kule resumed. In this excavation season they again uncovered remains of later periods (such as Islamic, Roman, Hellenistic, and Iron Age), but this season further enriched the Hittite and Greek connections. “The Hittite potential of the site became even clearer through the discovery of a Hittite land deed and additional finds of Hittite hieroglyphic bullae, most notably that of Queen Puduhepa, the wife of Hattusili III. Hittite pottery began to clarify itself in stratigraphic order. Mycenaean sherds of Late Helladic IIICI type were amply represented…” (Mellink and Quinn, 323) The third excavation season at Gözlü Kule, Tarsus, began in March of 1937; the excavation this year again confirmed the Hittite presence and revealed finds from the Bronze Age. “Middle Bronze Age levels began to emerge, and soundings along the south edge of the mound revealed several Late Chalcolithic jar burials.” (Mellink and Quinn, 326) Tarsus was proving to be a site with a deep prehistorical importance.

There were two campaigns during the 1938 excavation season, one in the spring and the other in the fall. The remains that they uncovered were from varied periods, but a strong sample from the Bronze Age was found, reaching into the early Bronze Age. The planned 1939 season for the “uninterrupted study of the material” never took place because the “European War” broke out; Prof. Goldman reported that they were only able to stay “to the early months of 1939.”

Of course, the war expanded far beyond Europe, and Goldman and her associates were not able to return to Tarsus until after World War II. They returned in 1947 for a season of “smaller scope,” and another brief and final campaign from May 4 to July 3, 1948. They completed their work with a study season in 1949. It was during the post-war years that Machteld J. Mellink of Bryn Mawr College joined the Tarsus excavation. “She arrived in the fall of 1947… to join Theresa Goell and others at the site. The duties of the new Dutch member of the team included the study and analysis of the Early Bronze pottery in storage, dug before the war, as well as participation in the final phase of the excavation: the sounding that went through the Chalcolithic, into the Neolithic beginnings of the mound.” (Özyar, 411-12)

The remains discovered during the excavation reflect a mixed heritage of local practices and foreign influences. The finds from the Neolithic through the Bronze Ages revealed influences of North Syria, Mesopotamia, northwest Asia Minor, Mycenaean Greece, and Hittite influence and control. The Iron Age (1100 – 520 B.C.E.) material reflects a continuing local tradition, but with influences from Cyprus, Greece, Phoenicia, and Assyria. The next significant ancient period of occupation on the mound was the Hellenistic and Roman periods, with strong Greek and Graeco-Roman influences apparent in the remains.

Bryn Mawr College supported the excavation, from the initial exploratory campaign of 1934 until it closed in 1949. Additional support was provided by other institutions and anonymous donors throughout the years: the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) in 1935, 1936, and 1937; the Fogg Museum of Harvard University in 1936 and 1937; the Institute for Advanced Study in 1938, Haverford College in 1936, and a contribution from the Milton Fund of Harvard University in 1935. The results of the excavation were published in three volumes, appearing in the years 1950, 1956, and 1963.

President Thompson of the AIA stated that “Hetty Goldman brought archaeological method to the Cilician coast and laid the foundations for South Anatolian archaeology of the Classical and Preclassical periods with the monumental publication of her excavation at Tarsus-Gözlü Kule. There many archaeologists received their training and benefitted from sound advice on field work and publication, on scholarly criticism and archaeological policy.” (President Margaret Thompson, AIA, December 29, 1966, presenting the Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement.) Emil O. Forrer (pioneering scholar of Hittite studies), Virginia R. Grace (research fellow at the Agora of Athens, renowned for her pioneering studies of stamped amphorae handles), Dorothy H. Cox (published the Tarsus coin collection), and Machteld J. Mellink (Professor, Bryn Mawr College, director of the Elmali excavations of Turkey) were a few of the scholars who worked with Hetty Goldman on the Tarsus excavation. The documents in the Tarsus Archaeological Collection of Bryn Mawr College, Special Collections, reflects the archaeological method, training, and research that Hetty Goldman and her associates brought to Tarsus and to the field of archaeology in the first half of the twentieth century.

Selected Bibliography:

“Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement,” Archaeology, Vol. 20, No. 2 (April 1967), p. 83.

Hetty Goldman, Preliminary Expedition to Cilicia, 1934, and Excavations at Gözlü Kule, Tarsus, 1935,” American Journal of Archaeology, vol XXXIX (1935) 526-549.

Hetty Goldman, “Excavations at Gözlü Kule, Tarsus, 1936,” American Journal of Archaeology, vol XLI (1937) 262-286.

Hetty Goldman, “Excavations at Gözlü Kule, Tarsus, 1937,” American Journal of Archaeology, vol XLII (1938) 30-54.

Hetty Goldman, “Excavations at Gözlü Kule, Tarsus, 1938,” American Journal of Archaeology, vol XLIV (1940) 60-86.

Hetty Goldman, “A Crystal Statuette from Tarsus,” in: Archaeologica Orientalia in Memoriam Ernst Herzfeld, George C. Miles (ed.), Locust Valley, New York: J. J. Augustin (1952) 129-133 and pl. XXV.

Hetty Goldman (ed.), Excavations at Gözlü Kule, Tarsus. Volume I. The Hellenistic and Roman Periods. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1950.

Hetty Goldman, Excavations at Gözlü Kule, Tarsus. Volume II. From the Neolithic through the Bronze Age. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1956.

Hetty Goldman (ed.), Excavations at Gözlü Kule, Tarsus. Volume III. The Iron Age. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963.

Machteld J. Mellink and Kathleen M. Quinn, “Hetty Goldman (1881–1972),” in: Getzel M. Cohen and Martha Sharp Jukowsky (eds.), Breaking Ground: Pioneering Women Archaeologists, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press (2006) 298-350.

Özyar, Asli, “Machteld Johanna Mellink, 26 October 1917 – 24 February 2006,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 152 (2008) 410–17.


60 boxes

Language of Materials



The Tarsus Archaeological Collection contains documents from an excavation sponsored by Bryn Mawr College and directed by Hetty Goldman, a pioneering archaeologist. The Tarsus excavation began in 1934 and continued until early 1939, when World War II interrupted it; it resumed after the war in 1947 and 1948. The results of the excavation were published in yearly articles and in three volumes of text and plates on the major periods found in the excavation: the Hellenistic and Roman periods, the Iron Age, and the Neolithic through Bronze Age. The particular strength of the collection is the series of handwritten excavation notebooks, photographic negatives, and other documents from the excavation. There are also glass lantern slides that were used for teaching and public talks.


Series 1: Hetty Goldman's Tarsus Files - Box 1

Series 2: Machteld Mellink's Tarsus Files - Box 1

Series 3: Tarsus Research Notes - Box 2

Series 4: Tarsus Research Cards - Boxes 3 to 8

Series 5: Tarsus Inventory Books - Box 9

Series 6: Tarsus Pottery Inventory - Box 9

Series 7: Tarsus Catalogue Cards - Boxes 10 to 20

Series 8: Tarsus Slides - Boxes 21 to 27

Series 9: Tarsus Negative Books - Box 28

Series 10: Tarsus Negatives - Boxes 29 to 45

Series 11: Tarsus Prints from Negatives - Boxes 46 to 55

Series 12: Tarsus Drawings and Plans - Boxes 56 and 57

Series 13: Tarsus Excavation Notebooks - Boxes 58 to 60

Related Materials

See also Machteld J. Mellink (1939-2006) Papers and the Hetty Goldman Collection, both of whom worked on the Tarsus excavation.

Some content is also available online:

Series 13: Tarsus Excavation Notebooks can be found digitized through Shared Shelf.

Tarsus Collection
Elliot Krasnopoler, based on previous Finding Aid by Joan Riley
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
  • A detailed inventory spreadsheet, compiled by Joan Reilly, can be obtained by emailing Bryn Mawr Special Collections at

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting or requesting repoductions from Bryn Mawr College Library

Bryn Mawr College Library
101 N. Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr 19010 USA US