Antandros necropolis is located on 50-60 meters of slope and plain between the sea and the parallel hill, which lies about 400 m west of the Kaletaşi Tepesi where the Antandros settlement is located. Today most part of the Melis housing complex lies on top of the necropolis area and the western borders of the two totally coincide. Since 2001, systematic excavations have been going on in order to determine the boundaries of the necropolis area.
The Necropolis excavations started in 2001 with a small drill, and had to be expanded widely due to dense burial, and turned into a big opening. The necropolis has a stratified structure due to its geographical position and soil erosion from the northern hill. A total of 412 tombs have been identified to date.
The Late Roman period architecture found in the southern sections of the openings forms the first culture layer of the necropolis area. In the course of 2007, the southern walls and doorways of two of the Late Roman settlements were unearthed in the eastern part of the opening. Thus, it was understood that, during this period too, the road passing through the necropolis area was used only by a 2 meters shift to the south and that the settlements were on the sides of the road. Although the plan has not yet been obtained completely, it is understood that in the 4th century AD this area had lost its necropolis character and turned into a settlement area. Apart from a grave belonging to the 2nd century AD uncovered on the west of the opening and a Byzantine Period grave discovered on the northern part of the opening, there was no other sign of a post Hellenistic Period grave.
In the grave no.192 -the earliest tomb of the necropolis-, a bronze spiral hair clip on the chest and 5 talus bones at the legs level -left as gifts- were found. Unfortunately, these findings are not enough to date the tomb precisely. However, the gifts of a cremation grave uncovered on this grave form a terminus ante quem for this grave. This grave no.171 is the primary cremation and has gifts from the late 8th / early 7th century BC totalling to a Kantharos, a Corinthian imitation aryballos and five bronze fibulas.
A total of 160 graves, including 59 cremations and 101 inhumations were uncovered. All of the 7th century BC cremation and even the tombs of the inhumations were unevenly covered with rubble stones slightly larger than a fist. Infants were either buried in large sized containers, such as hydria and amphora, or just as they were. Among the burials directly into the earth, some were buried heads looking north and some looking south, leading to the conclusion that there was no unity in directions in the burials of this period. Directional unity was not observed in the laying of burial containers.
It is understood that the adults were cremated after death and the infants were not. In some cremation graves, the burnt layer of the earth and a reddening on the soil due the high heat showed that the body was cremated at the burial space, whereas some other tombs were secondary cremations, that is, the body was cremated elsewhere, and the remaining bones were put into an urn shell and then buried. In cremation graves, bronze fibulae are usually found as gifts for the dead, while the infant tombs are richer in gift-wise including talus bones. The anthropological examinations made in the tombs of this period revealed that, before burying, adults were cremated whereas the infants under the age of 6.5 were not.
The tombs of the early 6th century BC show similar characteristics with those of the 7th century BC. However, a change is observed in the burial customs towards the mid-century; adults were started to be buried as inhumation as well. Examples of such can be seen in pithos graves of nos.183, 307 and 387.
The first sarcophagus in the Antandros Necropolis was used in the 6th century BC, when both cremation and inhumation started to be used for adults as well. Three terracotta sarcophagi of this century have been identified. The tombs nos.100 and 118 constitute simple sarcophagi, while the tomb no.30 is trapezoidal formed, Klazomenai lid sarcophagus. No decoration was found on the soft gable roof lid, while figured decorations were seen on the head end and foot end of the sarcophagus. This sarcophagus, which is very similar to the sarcophagus called the Albertinum Group by Cook, must have been imported from Klazomenai. This idea is also supported by the non-existance of any gifts in the sarcophagus. An adult male’s grave gifts being left outside the sarcophagi is known to be a general feature unearthed in the Klazomenai necropolis.
This direction unity in the inhumation burials continued to exist until the mid-Hellenistic Period. In the 5th century BC, terracotta sarcophagi were replaced by lid sarcophagus made of tuff stone. During this period, the cremation of adults gradually ceases in favour of inhumation.
Multiple burials are seen in sarcophagi of the 5th century BC. These multiple burials can either be in the form of cremation and inhumation as seen in the two tombs as stated above or in the form of multiple inhumation burials. The best example of this is the sarcophagus no.107. From the sarcophagus in which three adults (two females one male) were laid, three black lyrathos ornamented in black figure technique dating back to around 450 BC, black varnished kylix, amphoriskos and the base and body of a table amphora were found. The fact that three individuals were laid on each other without damaging one another and that there was no time difference between grave gifts suggests that these burials were made in the same period and that the sarcophagi were probably used as family tombs. Another sarcophagus belonging to the late 5th century BC is tomb no.2. This sarcophagus has a supporting wall made with good workmanship tightened with keystones all over. Although an alabastron made of alabaster stone, bronze fibula, iron strigilis, two figurines, table amphorae, skyphos, four bollards and seven stemless were recovered from the sarcophagus, as the bones in the burial place are melted, only a tibia of an adult could be identified. However, considering the number of findings, it is safe to say that this sarcophagus had multiple burials.
In the north-eastern corner of the necropolis, a grave with a different structure from the others was revealed. This tomb no.49 has a square plan of 3.10 x 3.17 m. While the outer surface of the blocks forming the Euthynteria section does not have the elaborate workmanship, the second set of blocks, fastened to each other by keystones have a very good workmanship. On the southern wall of the podium, a step is pulled back and two blocks are preserved. It is understood from the marks on the first row of blocks that the second row of blocks –like the preserved ones on the south- is placed by pulling back a step in other directions as well. The inner faces of the blocks are left untreated and the traces on the second row of blocks preserved in the south demonstrate that the unprotected third row was also built a step backwards. The data reveal that this podium with a square plan is originally a stepped pyramid.
The discoveries related to the 5. Century BC are not only limited to the sarcophagi, but also include inhumations directly laid upon the ground. A very rich variety of burial gifts were discovered in an inhumation of the sorts (no.133) belonging to a 3.5 years old infant. The body was laid in an east-west direction as in all inhumations of the period, and the body had two bronze bracelets on each arm, two cavalries and one lying figurine, one rooster and five turtle figurines, two lekythos ornamented with black figures, one kylix, three grey bowls, two beads from Phoenician glass, twenty-seven talus bones, two objects made of bone and a sea shell.
Although, a total of 20 tombs were identified, including eight stone sarcophagi, six roof tiles, four amphorae, one pithos and one simple earth grave belonging to the 4th century BC, no cremation burials were detected. The stone sarcophagi are similar to the examples of the 5th century BC and are laid in the east-west direction. The no.36 sarcophagus has been identified as the grave that contains the highest number of individuals. In the tomb where two females, one male, and one infant were laid; three cup-skyphos, a table amphora, three bronze mirrors and a strigilis were found. Considering the volume of the sarcophagus, it is unlikely that the five individuals would have fitted in at once. This is an important data showing that the sarcophagus used as family graveyard has been opened when someone in the family died. In addition, almost all of the sarcophagi of the 4th century BC are made of rubble stones, with supporting walls higher than the sarcophagus. In some cases, the presence of lime plaster on the outer surface of these walls shows that these walls surrounding the sarcophagi were originally on the ground level. The no.260 stone sarcophagus, unearthed during the 2008 excavation season, confirms this precisely. In the works to unearth the sarcophagus, an on-site preserved 20 cm wide plaster structured parallel to the ground levelled with the sarcophagus lid was found. This plaster is very important as it shows the then walking plane. Studies have shown that the part of the sarcophagus which was about 54 cm high stood above the detected walking plane. This clearly shows that some of the sarcophagi have an architectural arrangement that can be seen above the ground level. Thus, the sarcophagi of which locations are known were easily opened when new members of the family deceased and had to be buried in the family tomb.
Trances have been found indicating that, a layer of pebble stones were laid upon some of the tombs after being covered and then ceremonial fire was lit on top.
Some of the 4th century BC sarcophagi were found to be used a second time in the Hellenistic period. The best example of this is the sarcophagus no.210. Following the opening of the sarcophagus which has a crack on its lid’s southwest corner, the skeleton of two adults lying in an east-west direction was found. Two cup-kantharos, a bell, a pelike with a late red figurine were found at the foot-end as gifts; two strigilis in pieces, a broken Hellenistic stamnos with cremation and a bowl apparently used as lid were also found at knee and belly level. The assessments showed that the south-western corner of this sarcophagus of the 4th century BC was removed during the Hellenistic period and an urn was thrown into the sarcophagus.
Although infant burials are usually kept in amphoras, roof tile tombs are also used for adults and infants. While a large number of figurines were discovered in the roof tile graves opened during the Museum Rescue Excavations, in the recent works, roof tile graves uncovered revealed no gifts apart from an occasional coin. With this period, the habit of leaving a Kharon Mangori in the mouths of the dead in the inhumation burials started.
A total of sixty nine tombs were unearthed belonging to the Hellenistic period. Among them are; thirty one cremations, thirteen roof tiles, nineteen directly into the earth burials and two tile tombs. These numbers reveal a considerable and sudden increase in the ratio of cremation burials. It is also observed that stamnos was used as a form of urn pot. No infant burials were found in cremations. Infants were generally buried in roof tile tombs; a significant decline was seen in sarcophagi.
In cremations, while general habit seems to be secondary cremation, primary cremations (cremations on the spot) were also observed. Primary cremations were buried after being covered by roof tiles. Tomb no.12 forms an example to this; a 37 years old female was primarily cremated, a bronze coin, a bronze bracelet and a bronze object were left on her side; the perimeter of the place was built up with stones, then filled with rubble stones and the top was covered with two roof tiles.
In secondary cremations, the most common choice of urn had been the stamnoi. The mouths of the stamnoi were closed by either a bowl or a roof tile as lids. Sometimes an unguentarium is left inside them as gift. The richest of this kind of tombs is tomb no.64. Right beside a stamnos urn of which the mouth is closed with a roof tile; a krater, a lekane and a fish platter were left one within the other as gifts.
Roof tile tombs were built by putting up four or six tiles together in groups of two, while covering the front and the back with one roof tile each.
The most interesting findings of the Hellenistic era were found in the south-eastern part of the opening during 2005-2006 excavation seasons. A square planned (approximately 3x3 meters) rubble stone structure was unearthed in 2005. Although the upper part had been destroyed, it was understood that, it had walls on all three sides, except the southern side. At the southern side of the structure there laid three stepping stones serving as a doorway to the structure. It is understood that there was a platform around 30-35 cm high and wide and it was winding round all of the three inner walls. The floor inside is made up of fist-sized stones aligned together. The outer side of the walls are covered with well-preserved lime plaster, and the same plaster could be seen on the inside walls and floor in a scattered manner. The structure has a horse shoe altar shape and although a drilling was made in the centre to understand the purpose of the structure, this did not yield any results. In 2006 excavation season, the opening was widened eastwards of this structure and a similar structure was discovered approximately 80 cm east. The similarity can be observed in direction, plan, workmanship and size. The steps on the southern part of this second structure were destroyed and a tomb was discovered at its lower foundation level.
This tomb no.210 dated as early 4th century BC had an urn that was left inside during the Hellenistic era. In the course of opening of this tomb, some of the stones forming the floor of the second altar were removed and at the northern part, a Hellenistic urn (no.212) was discovered partly sitting on the supporting wall of tomb no.210. It was decided to completely remove the structure’s flooring in order to better understand the purpose of the altar. When done, three roof tiles arranged together as cover were recovered in the north of the inner part of the building. It was understood that the tomb no.213 was a primary cremation and that, after cremating the body on the spot, those tiles were covered upon the body and then the flooring was installed upon them. When this tomb was removed, too, another tomb was discovered at a lower level upon which the western wall of the altar stood upon. The lid of the tomb was shifted and there were four burials left inside, and almost without gifts, so it was deduced that this tomb had had a secondary use.
Some of the works of the 2007 excavation season were made on the north of the necropolis area. The works revealed three more tomb structures in addition to those mentioned above. They had the same characteristics like the ones formerly unearthed with their horse-shoe structures and north-facing plans. However, the non-existence of stair trails forms a divergence to the previous ones. The EAH coded altar was better preserved than the other two altar structures discovered in 2007. The altar was constructed in a manner to completely encircle an original burial dated 4th century BC. This tomb which was numerated as no.226 had also been subject to a second use like tomb no.210 and its lid had been opened and urns had been left in its west part just like tomb no.210. Its sole difference from the tomb no.201 was that two urns were left in tomb no.226. There were two cremated on the spot tombs in the inner parts of each two altar structures found in 2007. While one cremation was covered by fist sized stones, the other was covered with oval tiles.
The data obtained reveals that, there was a tradition of altar tombs in Hellenistic period in Antandros and that these were used for cremation burials. The works done in the upper layers of the two altars unearthed in 2005 and 2006 revealed –unlike other areas- pieces of burial steles from the Hellenistic period and thus it is considered that originally, these steles were standing upon the burial altars. It is quite probable that the platforms inside these horse-shoe shaped altars had been used as gift leaving places during the ceremonies performed on specific days of the year.
A drilling of approximately 3x5 in size was initiated on the south-western part of the opening in order to understand how far south –towards the sea- the necropolis area extended. During the drillings started right to the south of tomb no.2, no tomb or other kind of structure was found except a few walls belonging to the late Roman period. However, the soil was very firm and layered. During the works, neatly arranged stones were discovered on an area 4 meters south of supporting walls of Tomb no.2. After extending the opening southwards in an effort to unearth this structure, the supporting walls circling a pithos tomb dating back to 6th century BC were discovered. A roof tile tomb from Hellenistic period was found right on the south of the tomb no.183, which partially destroyed it while it was being built. Well preserved high walls were encountered on an upper level on south, and they obstructed the works to be carried further south. When no tomb structure was discovered in a 4 meters wide area with a soil structure much different than the rest in a necropolis as dense as Antandros necropolis, brings up the idea that this area was an ancient road passing through the necropolis. This idea is backed by the topography of the necropolis area. The necropolis is situated on an approximately 60 meters wide coastline on the west of the settlement area, bounded by a hill on its north and the sea on its south. This very coastline can be regarded as almost the only destination that connects Antandros to the westward ancient city of Gargaros. Even today, the modern Edremit-Çanakkale highway passes approximately 40 meters south of the same ancient route. Apart from this, an examination of the necropolis plan reveals that the southern boundaries of the tomb altars of the Hellenistic period and the southern boundaries of the other tombs further west, together form an east-west positioned straight line. The fact that a circler structure with a radius of 1.10 meters of which the outer surface has a partially preserved plaster and inside filled with rubble stones was unearthed at the south-east of the necropolis opening and about 4 meters south of the second Hellenistic altar during the 2006 excavation season creates evidence to support this view. An urn from the Hellenistic period was discovered inside the structure. In the last days of the 2007 excavation season, upper section of a circular structure in the north of the necropolis was uncovered and completely opened in 2008. The structure was approximately 1.20 m. in radius, 0.64 m high, its outer surface was plastered and had two steps. The stepped formation and plastered facade of the circler structure is similar to the architectural structure surrounding the urn which was unveiled in 2006. For this similarity, an urn was expected inside, but no finds or graves were found. This suggests that the structure could be a "cenotaph." Another altar with a circular form is the tomb no.344 found on the south of the ancient road in 2010. An urn made of khytra and its mouth covered by a flat stone was found at the centre of the altar. The altars had a circler form with a radius of 1.16 cm and with a preserved plaster part of 33 cm. Inside the tomb, cremated bones belonging to an adult and one talus bone were recovered.
Work continued in 2007 to prove the existence of an ancient road and it was uncovered in four separate layers at 4.02 m., 3.94 m. and 3.89 m. from the 4.10 m level. These strata clearly show that the road was used for a long time and that it had been undergone repairs as needed. Pits showing the repair work were also found on the eastern side of the road opening. In this new opening, an eastern-western road that passed through the structures of the Late Roman period has been uncovered as mentioned above. The late Roman road lies in the same direction as the road thought to be used in the Hellenistic period, and it has the same hard soil bed like the Hellenistic road. And the late Roman road is only about 2 meters to the south of the early road.
Excavations at the Antandros necropolis revealed that the necropolis site was used continuously from the early 7th century BC to the end of the Hellenistic period. Although there is no data showing what the necropolis area was used for in the early Roman period yet, only one tomb belonging to the 2nd century AD was found. In the partially buried brick-braided coffin type tomb, the body was laid in accordance with the eastern-western directional union. Apart from this, a tomb dated to the Byzantine Period was also unearthed. The tomb no.25 was covered with flooring tiles aligned in twos over a coffin made of rubble stones and lime plaster. Four individuals, two females, one male and an infant, were buried in the tomb, while one of the females was laying west-east direction, heading west; the bones of the other individuals were collected at the foot-end of that female.