Voices from the Field (2015-07-25)

Animals and Archaeology – Faunal Analysis at Kaymakçı

Adam DiBattista, Francesca Slim, Christine Mikeska

Just one season of excavation results in thousands of pieces of bone, antler, shell, and other animal remains, which are referred to collectively as faunal material. This rich body of material allows us to understand the variety of ways animals were used in the past, evaluate potential contamination levels, and examine past environmental conditions.

Adam examines a piece of antler

Adam examines a piece of antler

 

Francesca measures a humerus

Francesca measures a humerus

 

As a team, we sort bones by their type (e.g., humerus, femur, tibia) and then record information about each individual bone. Using a variety of illustrated manuals and a collection of modern bones provided by our supervisor, Dr. Canan Çakırlar, we attempt to determine species. We frequently find domestic animals like sheep and cow, but also wild animals like deer and fish.

Photography and measurement are two ways we document faunal remains

Photography and measurement are two ways we document faunal remains

 

 

By carefully observing, measuring, and recording the excavated faunal material, we can begin to understand the age and health of animals at Kaymakçı in the past. These traits help us understand the habits of the people who used these animals for meat, wool, and a variety of other products and activities. For example, bones from older sheep may indicate that they were being used for “secondary products” like wool and milk, while bones from younger sheep may indicate they were being used for meat. Additionally, pathologies in cow feet can indicate they were being used for activities such as plowing rather than consumption.

Adam, Christine, and Francesca look at the structure of the teeth from a cattle mandible

Adam, Christine, and Francesca look at the structure of the teeth from a cattle mandible

Voices from the Field (2015-07-22)

Small is Beautiful

Magda Pieniążek

 

Returning to Kaymakçı, I have dived into the fascinating world of western Anatolian small finds: objects of everyday activities such as basic tools like loom weights or needles, objects of cult like animal figurines, or objects of dress and body adornments like bronze pins or beads. Between taking measurements, trying to make sense of rounded pieces of broken pottery that are sometimes found pierced, and planning improvements to the database, I try to imagine life at ancient Kaymakçı: rituals involving recently excavated parts of vessels shaped like bulls and snakes; children playing with small bits of broken pottery neatly worked as “tokens” or gaming pieces; women spinning yarn with conical, biconical, symmetrical, and asymmetrical spindle whorls…

 

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My office! The small finds, once they are brought in from the field and properly conserved (if needed), are brought to me for identification and analysis.

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Many of the finds brought in are easily recognizable as utilitarian objects, while others are mysterious and require more thought! Here are two items that share a similar round shape and ceramic material. The larger quotidian loom weight was used for weaving (it was pierced so it could be tied to weigh down the end of a string of the loom), whereas the small “token” has an unknown function.

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Here are some of the bronze pins excavated last year. These are some of the nicer objects I handle on a daily basis.

Voices from the Field (2015-07-13)

Imag(e)ining and recording at Kaymakçı

Emily Wilson

Photography at Kaymakçı is a mix of traditional elements and technological innovations.

Photography is a vital part of the recording process in archaeology. Photographs produce an accurate record of deposits, features, and the relationships between contexts. There are several types of photography that are utilized on site.

 

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On the every-day level, the use of tablets – as opposed to the traditional pencil and paper - allow us to take real-time photographs and annotate them in the field to illustrate our daily notes and create an accurate record of our excavation techniques and thoughts. These images and notes help us to interpret the archaeological record both at the moment of excavation, and later in the lab.

 

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The meter stick and the north arrow are an archaeologist’s best friend! Including these two items is essential in photographs to ensure that an accurate sense of scale and direction are preserved for both formal photos for publication and progress photographs. Without these vital pieces of information, the photograph is almost worthless.

 

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The use of the drone in the field has led to a revolution in photography. The drone is used to take aerials that allow for accurate and detailed day plans (a daily map that includes excavated areas, elevations, and important finds), as well as for “photobatching” large contexts (to create three dimensional models that portray accurate volumes, sizes, and shapes of excavated contexts).

 

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The importance of capturing all of the boundaries of a particular feature or context, as well as its relationships with contiguous contexts, can sometimes require courage and a steady hand at high elevations!

Voices from the Field (2015-07-11)

Piecing the past together: revealing archaeology through conservation

Caitlin O'Grady, Adrienne Gendron, Remy Kneski, and Nicole Passerotti
 

The process of excavation reveals artefacts and architecture that often require stabilization from the Kaymakçı conservation team. We work in the field and laboratory – where artefacts are brought following their recovery.

 

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Nicole unpacking an excavation area from the 2014 season

 

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Remy analysing adhesives used in conservation treatment

 

 

Adrienne measuring the plasticity of soil from Kaymakçi using a Casagrande apparatus.

Adrienne measuring the plasticity of soil from Kaymakçi using a Casagrande apparatus.

 

Our work involves the identification of archaeological materials when degradation makes it difficult to understand what is preserved. We also work to develop and test treatment methods to stabilize objects and conduct research to better understand the burial environment at Kaymakçı.

Recovered artefacts frequently have surfaces covered in burial soil and accretions due to the high percentage of carbonates (a kind of salt) in Kaymakçı soils. During treatment, we typically remove the soil and burial accretions, which mask surface features and decoration, using a variety of methods to reveal the object below.

 

Acid cleaning of a ceramic sherd

Acid cleaning of a ceramic sherd

 

After cleaning and stabilization, sherds are reconstructed to produce partial or whole vessels using archival conservation materials.

Adrienne using a syringe to consolidate a reconstructed vessel fragment with adhesive.

Adrienne using a syringe to consolidate a reconstructed vessel fragment with adhesive.

 

We typically use magnification when working with small metal artefacts made of copper alloys or iron in order to see the varying layers of burial soil, accretions and corrosion.

 

Nicole treating an iron artefact under magnification

Nicole treating an iron artefact under magnification

 

The conservation team at Kaymakçı enjoys working closely with archaeology specialists both in the lab and the field in order to stabilize, identify and research the many different materials excavated daily.

Remy’s reconstructed pot            

Remy’s reconstructed pot

             

Teamwork in the field

Teamwork in the field

 

Voices from the Field (2015-07-05)

Kaymakçı from Above!

Manny Moss

Eyes in the Sky: a new UAV is providing fresh perspectives on the site and surrounding landscape, and changing the way archaeology happens.

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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have recently become affordable, reliable, and powerful enough to join the archaeological toolkit. Here at Kaymakçı, we’re using the camera mounted on our new DJI Phantom to document ongoing excavation activities, explore the surrounding landscape, and aid in our efforts to construct 3D, volumetric models of archaeological deposits.

Capable of taking video and still imagery, precision-guided by GPS, and with flight times exceeding twenty minutes, our new UAV allows for shadow-free, top-down shots from ten, twenty, or even 100 meters above the ground.

 

The images from the UAV have also proven to be an excellent addition to the mapping and 3D spatial components of the project. The UAV’s photographs can be pieced together in a photogrammetry program to produce a hyper-accurate digital elevation model of the site, the landform on which it sits, and the surrounding hills, valleys, and waterways. This landscape model can be used by many of the other specialists on the project to make inferences about past and present land use, hydrology, agriculture, and human occupation.

 


Taking aerial photographs, and shooting HD video early in the morning takes advantage of the raking light to reveal subtle topographical details.

 

New perspectives offered by the UAV have aided in understanding spatial relationships difficult to see from ground level, and have given those of us working on the ground a fresh eye on Kaymakçı’s neighborhood. We look forward to applying this tool in new ways in the near future!