Voices from the Field (2015-05-31)

We’re back for the 2015 season!

After a relatively-dormant winter, our first “voice” from the field season of 2015 comes from the geophysics team that has been working since mid-May at Kaymakçı, located in the western Turkish province of Manisa, on the shore of Lake Marmara (the ancient Gygaean Lake, for those who don’t remember!). Expect many more posts over the coming weeks and months. We hope you enjoy!

The Directors

A resumption of geophysical survey

Güzin Eren, Kyle Egerer, Manny Moss, Dan Plekhov

The 2015 season marks the fourth consecutive season of electrical resistance survey at the Late Bronze Age site of Kaymakçı. This year we are expanding our area of investigation to include previously unsurveyed parts of the site.

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For those unfamiliar with geophysics, the Gygaia Projects blog, or archaeology in general, “geophysics” refers to an aspect of the geosciences that concentrates on the characteristics and physical processes of the earth’s crust. Geophysical survey methods are used in archaeology to identify and isolate subterranean cultural remains. As a non-invasive, site-intensive survey method, resistance survey has proven particularly productive at Kaymakçı because of its local geological and natural conditions.

By introducing a weak electrical current into the ground between probes moved at set intervals along a zigzag pattern, the technique allows us to distinguish stone walls from other man-made and natural features with differing levels of resistance to the flow of electricity. So far this season we’ve successfully surveyed 50 survey grids – 2 hectares!

Until very soon,
the 2015 Kaymakçı Geophysics team!!

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Voices from the Field (2015-05-08)

Gygaia Projects Presentations at the SAA meetings in San Francisco

I recently traveled to San Francisco to represent Gygaia Projects at the 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. This year’s meeting attracted more than 5,000 archaeologists – the largest turnout in the Society’s history. The lobby of the conference hotel was a sight to behold; I’ve never before seen so many people in one room wearing hiking boots with suits.

On the second day of the conference, I presented a poster on behalf of myself and coauthors Christina Luke and Christopher Roosevelt at the symposium “The Robustness and Vulnerability of Food Production and Social Change: An evaluation of interdisciplinary concepts using archaeological data, models and ethnographic observations”. This session brought together researchers from several methodological backgrounds, each of whom used food production as a framework for thinking about how past societies interacted with their environments.

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Our poster – “Extreme weather events and 10,000 years of land-use change in the Gediz River valley” – arose from recent efforts to understand how the ancient inhabitants of the Gediz River valley adapted to the risks of extreme weather. We used data from a state-of-the-art paleoclimate simulation to estimate how frequently droughts and floods would have hit the valley over the past 10,000 years. Drawing on concepts from game theory, we then explored how the risks of extreme weather might have influenced an ancient farmer’s choice of which crops to plant from one year to the next. We compared our models to data from the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey and related Gygaia Projects initiatives. We found that the impacts of extreme weather are contingent on the vulnerabilities of each particular society, and that very often what farmers might think to be the best option for minimizing risks in the short term makes them more vulnerable in the long term. Discussing these findings with our colleagues in San Francisco led to several new hypotheses that we look forward to begin testing upon our return to Kaymakçı in the weeks to come.

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