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QuarryScapes guide to ancient stone quarry landscapes


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Quarry landscape of the month

December 2006: Marmor Mysium, Western Turkey

Two very important granitic rocks were quarried in Asia Minor, namely in Mysia and Troas (Western Turkey). They were both exploited from the 2nd century AD to the Early Byzantine period and exported to many provinces of the Roman Empire. Marmor Mysium is the last "quarry of the month" in 2006 – Troas will be presented in 2007.

Marmor Mysium is the name given by the present writer to the granite from Mysia. It is a gray stone with a fine grain size, characterized by white feldspar and plagioclase, black mica, hornblende and colourless quartz.

This stone was chiefly used for small to average columns (max dimensions 0.6 x 6 m), mostly exploited in the central area of the Kozak plutonite, just to the north of Bergama (ancient Pergamum). The area is hilly with isolated rounded peaks created by the intense weathering of the granites. This has led to many and dispersed extraction sites and a few small, "true" quarries concentrated in the largest outcrops where the granite was easily accessible, fresh and of good quality.

The most important quarries discovered so far are located near Kozak. In this region are also the ruins of the ancient Hellenistic-Roman-Byzantine town of Perperene, where the local administration of the quarries was most probably found. However, it is very likely that the granite trade was under the control of Pergamum. One of the largest quarries is situated at Azattasi Tepe, where there was a small settlement of quarrymen near a spring and several extraction sites for blocks and columns. One can still observe abundant cutting marks left by the use of a heavy pick for producing the trenches used for separation of blocks from the bedrock. Wedge holes are also very frequent. There is also evidence of the use of a pointed chisel for the extraction and squaring of blocks. Many squared, abandoned blocks and columns are still found by the extraction sites, as well as a few unfinished sarcophagi, which production appears to be rather limited, though.

There are many modern quarries in the Kozak area, some of which have most probably destroyed ancient extraction sites.

The petrography of the Mysian granite is typical of granites to biotite-amphibolic-granodiorites; the main components are plagioclase (34-53%), k-feldspar (23-35%), quartz (21-29%), biotite (5-10%), hornblende (3-7%), whereas magnetite, titanite and apatite are the most common accessory minerals. The most important rocks of the Kozak plutonite are geologically classified as metaluminous granites and amphibolic granodiorites belonging to the I-type granitoids. They derived from the cooling of a magma originating within the mantle in connection with the magmatic activity of the Aegean Volcanic Arc. The petrography and geochemistry of Marmor Mysium is very distinctive and can be used for separating the stone from other macroscopically similar rocks used in antiquity, such as the granites from the Elba and Giglio Islands.

Text: Lorenzo Lazzarini


Further reading:

De Vecchi G., Lazzarini L., Lünel T., Mignucci A., Visonà D., 2000, The genesis and characterisation of “Marmor Mysium” from Kozak (Turkey): a granite used in antiquity. Journal of Cultural Heritage, 1, 145-153.

Lazzarini L., 1992, Le pierres pour l'éternité, les granits utilisé dans l'antiquité classique, in “Le marbre dan l'antiquité”, Les dossiers d'archéologie, n. 173, 58-67.

Lazzarini L., 1998, Sul Marmo Misio, uno dei graniti più usati anticamente. In “Marmi Antichi II” (a cura di P. Pensabene), Roma, 165-174.


Geological sketch map of the Kozak plutonite

Partially rounded column abandoned in an ancient quarry near Kozak. Photo by Lorenzo Lazzarini


Ancient and modern extraction of granodioritic outcrops near Kozak. Photo by Lorenzo Lazzarini


Macroscopic appearance of Marmor Mysium. Photo by Lorenzo Lazzarini


Microscopic fabric of Marmor Mysium (Pl= plagioclase; Qtz= quartz; Hbl= hornblende; Kfs=K-feldspar). Photo by Lorenzo Lazzarini





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Coordinator: NGU - Geological survey of Norway, Tom Heldal. Tlf: +47 73 90 40 00 . Partners. Layout: Lisa Løseth, NGU.