Introduction to the Project

Map with locations of Panormos, Didyma and Miletos

­­Project Panormos is an international archaeological research project, centred on a recently-identified ancient necropolis located on the Aegean coast of Turkey. Since its establishment in 2012, the research has been undertaken as a cooperative effort between archaeological researchers from the Istanbul branch of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), the archaeological Museum of Balat / Miletus (Aydın province, Turkey). It has a strong interdisciplinary focus involving collaborations between researchers from fields such as physical anthropology, isotopic analysis, geology, prehistory and classical studies. The project aims to examine a number of historical issues, ranging from revealing the lifestyles and geographical origins of the individuals who were buried at the necropolis; recording and interpreting details of local/regional funerary practices; to improving our knowledge of trade and interaction during the early 1st millennium BC.

Discovery of the necropolis­

In late summer 2011, a modern trench near the assumed location of the ancient port of Panormos caught the attention of a team of geologists working in the area. The ditch had been excavated some years ago to contain a modern drainage pipe but had never been re-filled. As a result of soil erosion, including the slow collapse of the trench walls, a significant concentration of pottery fragments (apparently dating to between the 7th and 6th centuries BC) and ash-dense soils were revealed along a stretch of around 20m. Archaeologists and museum specialists who inspected the surface finds confirmed that the site seemed very likely to represent the remnants of an ancient necropolis.

Rescue excavation and research

In order to prevent continuing damage to this potentially important site and, if necessary, to protect the area from the possibility of modern building activities, a four-week season of rescue excavations was set in motion under the administrative direction of the Miletus Museum (Balat) in cooperation with archaeological experts from the German Archaeological Institute, Istanbul in September 2012 (see Excavations).

Whilst the work was set up as a rescue excavation aimed to document the ancient graves, the project has had, from the beginning, a strong research agenda addressed with the application of a variety of scientific methods (see Methodology).

Research questions

  • How extensive are the remains of the necropolis and how do they relate to the supposed location of the ancient port of Panormos and the likely route of the ‘Sacred Way’ between Didyma-Branchidai and Miletus?
  • How long and during what periods was the site used as a burial ground?
  • What kinds of people were buried at this necropolis? Were they ‘local’ residents or ‘foreign’ pilgrims? Can we document trends in the causes of death, age of death or any dietary patterns?
  • From where did the associated ceramics and other grave goods come from? How can we relate these materials to the human remains?
  • Do the find-repertoires or burial customs show any evidence for the historically and archaeologically documented international nature of the sanctuary of Didyma-Branchidai during the Archaic period (600-500BC)?


The region of Didyma and Panormos as reconstructed in 1906, map: P. Wilski, Karte der milesischen Halbinsel, Milet. Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen seit dem Jahre 1899, hrsg. v. Th. Wiegand, Band 1 (Berlin 1906)



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( A. Slawisch • 10 Aug 2013)
A. Slawisch, 2013. Project Panormos: Introduction to the Project; 10 Aug 2013. <> accessed 20 Apr 2018.