Voices from the Field (2017-07-24)

Goodbye, Kaymakçı (for now!)

The 2017 season of the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project has come to an end, with many thanks to all members of the full team (local and foreign academics and staff) for their hard-working dedication.


As we continue to research and write about the past few years’ discoveries in our respective institutional homes, we are already looking forward to next summer’s new developments!

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!

Voices from the Field (2017-07-20)

All Things Small!

Magda Pieniążek and Maria Lill

The small finds team has grown in 2017, with Magda Pieniążek getting support from students Maria Lill and Milos Roháček. The small finds team deals with a variety of manmade objects from diverse materials ranging from metal, clay, faience, and stone to bones. Even though they are called ‘small finds,’ some of the objects (like grinding stones) are quite big; one weighing as much as 2 kg!

The focus this season was primarily on textile tools, such as spindle whorls and loom weights, and metal objects, such as knives, needles, and awls. All these objects bring us closer to the people that lived and worked in Bronze Age Kaymakçı.

Over quite a few days Maria dealt with the 120 spindle whorls found at the site so far, working with them throughout the day (and night, as they even appeared in her dreams!). Spindle whorls were used on spindle spikes as weights to increase and maintain the speed of spinning. The spindle whorls in Kaymakçı were made of clay and come in various shapes: conical, biconical, and spherical. They also differ considerably in weight. Their appearance on the site tells us about people spinning yarn of varying quality for different kinds of textiles.




Many of them were decorated with notches or impressions. We admired the creativity of those living in Kaymakçı and held a spindle whorl beauty contest. Here is the winner: an elegant biconical example!

Magda and Milos concentrated on the metal finds such as pins, chisels, knives, drills, and awls. Bronze Age awls could have been used for fine levering or prying work, carving, or perforating objects made of wood, leather, bone, horn, or even stone. The awls found at Kaymakçı so far are small, 5 cm on average, so they must have been used for very fine craftsmanship. Some of them could be used as drills for perforating very small objects such as beads – one was only about two millimetres thick.

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!

Voices from the Field (2017-07-17)

Learning about Local Ceramic Production

Catherine Scott

One of the many benefits of a study season is the chance to follow new lines of research that we wouldn’t have time for during a normal field season. This year, a number of team members were lucky enough to visit Gökeyüp, a village on the outskirts of the Gediz Valley, and watch the traditional production of ceramics. This is our first trip since excavation began at Kaymakçı, though we have visited the village multiple times over the past 15 years as part of the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (CLAS).

Ceramicist Peter Pavúk studies the unfired pots, which have been drying in the sun.

Ceramics before firing (below) and after firing (above).

Wet clay ready to be mixed with mica.

Our area has been known for producing “goldwash” pottery since the second millennium BCE. “Goldwash” generally refers to ceramics that have a deep gold or bronze color following firing, which is created using local mica. In Gökeyüp, mica is used as a temper to strengthen cooking pots, and as a wash or slip to make them shine. Goldwash ceramics are also found at Kaymakçı, though their method of production seems to be different. That said, observing modern production can still be informative.

This pot has a silver spot where it wasn’t heated evenly.

All the ceramics are made by hand by women who have passed down the skill over time. For this firing, they made 800 objects in two weeks!

When pots are ready to be fired, the potters build a circular pyre and stack the ceramics on top, covering them with wood. The location of the pyre here is in the street, at an intersection that gets a lot of wind to stoke the flames. The firing takes anywhere from about 30 minutes to two hours, and is carefully controlled.

The firing is a social event. Neighbors came to help and to watch, and even cooked potatoes on the embers for a snack! We are very thankful for the opportunity to have observed and participated in this local tradition.

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!

Voices from the Field (2017-07-11)

Detailed Tasks: Sorting Bones in the Heavy Residue Fraction

Francesca Slim

Heavy residue analysis begins! This year the faunal team grew, and we have a wonderful workforce to get some work done this study season: Dr. C. Çakırlar, Francesca Slim, Jildou Kooistra, Madison Blumer, Conor Mead, and Elif Özsöy.

A large workforce to handle a lot of small bones: Jildou, Elif, Conor, and Madison.

This year the faunal team has begun the analysis of the heavy residues retrieved during flotation. After a long workflow involving collection of sediment samples by excavators and flotation, heavy residue collection, and sorting by the archaeobotany team, the bone material within the heavy residue samples ended up with the faunal team. Using a variety of tools, the heavy residue samples are laid out on trays, meticulously examined in bright daylight, and sorted into categories with small brushes and dental tools. We have been finding various taxa of not just the common domesticates, but also bones from amphibians, birds, fish, molluscs, and small mammals such as mice.

Francesca doing detailed analysis on the identifiable mammal bones from the heavy residue samples.

In these heavy residue samples, we find bones that do not usually appear in the hand-selected and dry-sieved samples. In addition to finding small animals, here and there we find small bones from very young animals, showing that even very young baby animals were kept at Kaymakçı. This means that the heavy residue samples are very complementary to the dataset, as a whole, and give us better insight into the full spectrum of domestic, wild, and commensal animals present at Kaymakçı in the past.


When we do the sorting, we also keep our eyes out for some specific bones that may be used for other types of analysis. For instance, we are hoping to find fish otoliths (a type of ear bone), which can be used in future isotope analysis. In this way, we collaborate not just between specialists, but also across many years of the project!

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!

Voices from the Field (2017-07-09)

Photographing Finds

Christina Luke

It was a great pleasure to host expert photographer Niki Gail as part of the Kaymakçı team for four days. His good spirit with the various field conditions made the extreme (47 degrees) heat wave much more enjoyable. He worked closely with many team members to document small finds (pins, rings, tokens, spindle whorls, etc.) as well as bones, ceramics, and architectural materials in mudbrick. We were also able to spend a day at the Manisa Museum to document previous seasons of material stored in their collections. While the heat made that work challenging, the wonderful setting of the Ottoman era architecture creates a nice setting for work. 

Getting the right shot can be challenging!

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!

Voices from the Field (2017-07-07)

Ebru in Tekelioğlu

Christina Luke

The first weekend in July brought ebru (marbling) artist Nedim Sönmez to Tekelioğlu. He offered ebru and papermaking workshops for the children of the village. Short lectures and videos covered the history of these crafts in Turkey, and then the students had many opportunities to try the crafts themselves.

Children were able to share ideas and approaches for two days. At the end of the workshops, they brought their art back to their families.


Nedim is the director of Ege University’s Paper and Book Arts Museum in Bornova, Izmir, as well as an established and well-known artist. This is his second workshop with our project.

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!

Voices from the Field (2017-07-06)

Sweet Treats: Baking American Pies in Turkey for the Fourth of July

Emily Wilson and Caitlin O’Grady

The 4th of July means many things for Americans: the celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, barbeques, family and friends, and fireworks. For many Americans, it also means fruit pies, a dessert that is especially popular on this holiday. This year, we decided to make fruit pies for our annual 4th of July barbeque – a taste of the US while working in Turkey. But making these pies was not without its challenges.

Shopping - do you think we have enough ingredients?

So much butter!

Prepping cherries.

Making a lattice crust.

Our baking challenge.




Using the oven, which cooks only one pie at a time at a constant and unknown temperature, gave the bakers an even greater appreciation for the cooks who use it everyday to make our food!

One crust completed, 2 more to finish.

So many delicious pies! 

Ready for feasting!

The pies and crumble were safely transported down to the shores of Lake Marmara for the holiday barbeque. Without exception, they were proclaimed a delicious success!!!

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!

Voices from the Field (2017-07-05)

Precision drawings made fast with lasers

Peter Demján

Understanding the development of pottery shapes and forms plays an important role in reconstructing ancient living and making. Each fragment has to be carefully studied and precisely documented, including a drawing reconstruction of the original vessel based on the profile and estimated diameter. This process is usually quite time-consuming and involves either drawing by hand or creating a digital drawing based on a 3D scan.

Caption: Pottery processing team from the Charles University in Prague at work. From left to right: Peter Pavúk, Lucia Šušková, and Kristina Jarošová (not pictured: Peter Demján and Miloš Roháček).

The inventor of the Laser Aided Profiler (Peter Demján), processing a fragment.





During this season of the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project, the pottery processing team got new reinforcement in the form of a prototype Laser Aided Profiler (LAP), developed specifically for measuring the profiles and circumferences of pottery fragments.

The Profiler enables us to produce a high-quality digital drawing of a ceramic vessel based on a fragment in a matter of minutes. Such drawings can then be used to analyze various vessel types in traditional ways or to compare the shapes of profiles digitally and calculate their similarity. This process, called morphometrics, enables us to analyze thousands of fragments from different parts of the site, or even different sites, without having to go over every single one by hand.

The Laser Aided Profiler in action.

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!