Voices from the Field (2017-07-20)

Eat, (sleep), work, repeat! Daily activities in Area 109.523.

Dalila Alberghina

Liters of soil removed, numerous crates filled, and shades of tan. The criteria to measure the progress of our excavation team can be many, but among all we prefer the following: a better understanding of how the space we are working in framed and influenced daily life in the past. After seven weeks of fieldwork in excavation area 109.523, we can say that we have made some progress in this direction!

This season, in fact, our team has been focusing in particular on the exploration of one domestic unit located in the SE section of trench 109, and the investigation of the largest room has recently suggested some answers to our questions about the nature of this space.

The NE section of the main unit in building 227 with two different firing installations in the background (left).

The types of small finds we were recovering seemed to suggest food-related activities, but the presence of in situ vessels and firing installations now adds more certainty to our hypothesis that this large room was devoted mainly, if not only, to food processing, from the grinding of grains to roasting and cooking.

Examples of in situ finds from building 227

Additionally, we have also been exploring the adjacent space, a long and narrow corridor that separates this building from another, larger domestic unit. Here the absence of architectural features and regular paving and the relatively clean nature of the deposit helped us rule out an earlier hypothesis that this space was a narrow alley. Concentrations of  raw and finished stone flakes and cores among other small finds suggests an alternative view.

The narrow outdoor unit 236

Our current idea is that this narrow outdoor space was devoted in part to the production of stone tools and perhaps other small objects.

Some of the lithics found in corridor 236.

By combining these different lines of evidence resulting from our daily routines on site, the possible rhythms of ancient daily life in this part of our area begin to emerge.

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

Voices from the Field (2019-07-14)

Archaeologists cannot stay away from archaeology

Nami Shin

Here at Kaymakçı, we work hard everyday to learn more about the ancient people who once inhabited the citadel. Our team includes many different specialists: excavators, zooarchaeologists, archaeobotanists, ceramicists, conservators, sediment chemists, and 3D spatial analysts. We happily work to identify the different plants, animals, ceramics, etc. used or kept on site in antiquity despite the sometimes intense daily heat and routine early morning starts.

Our team is hard-working and focused on research, but we still know how to have fun! On days off many team members like to venture to other places in the area. Some team members, like our archaeobotanist, like to spend their days off at the beach.

Our archaeobotanist standing at a pier in Ayvalık

In chatting with other team members, it seems most of our archaeological team simply cannot stay away from archaeology, even on their days off!

 A few team members exploring Assos.

The team enjoys their days off, but as you can tell we enjoy archaeology even more. Washing bones, floating sediment samples, digging in the dirt, and more are where our biggest smiles are found!

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

Voices from the Field (2019-07-10)

A diamond in the rough: raw materials in 97.541

Catherine Scott

As much as archaeologists enjoy finding the kinds of beautiful things you might see in a museum—jewelry, glass jars, wall paintings, mosaics, etc.—we also get excited when we find the raw materials used to produce these fine objects. Raw materials and their contexts can tell us a lot about how people in the past lived and worked, as well as how they related to other people and groups nearby and far away.

This year in excavation area 97.541, we have been lucky to find a number of objects that might be raw materials for craft production. Most of these raw materials have been stone, as stone is difficult to reuse and preserves well. These include soft, colored stones that might have been used in pigment production, as well as translucent stones that could have been used to make jewelry or other decorative objects. These materials are also found alongside tools used in other kinds of production, such as needles and spindle whorls for making textiles, and stones used for polishing.

The location of these raw materials relative to architecture can tell us a lot about how space was used, and how production was organized. Are they found inside buildings, or outside in open courtyards? Are they associated with houses or with workshops? If certain materials are found only in some parts of the site, access to those materials may have been restricted based on social status or the specialized function of parts of the site.

The southern part of area 97.541. The location of raw materials can help us learn what these buildings and open spaces were used for.

A variety of scientific analyses can be used to find the origin of these raw materials, which can tell us if they were gathered locally or imported from far away. By looking at the distribution of raw materials and finished objects across a landscape or a region, we can learn how trade routes developed and changed over time. A good example of this is the famous Uluburun shipwreck found off the southwestern coast of Turkey and dating to the Late Bronze Age; this ship contained both raw materials from around the Mediterranean (such as glass ingots) and finished products (such as gold jewelry).

We are a long way from being able to make these sorts of interpretations about the objects that have been recently found in area 97.541. However, we will continue to study them and look forward to learning more about this aspect of  ancient Kaymakçı.

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

Voices from the Field (2019-07-01)


Elena Mars & Leah Balagopal

The conservation lab treats a variety of objects, but this week our focus is metal! Because Kaymakçı is a Bronze Age site, the metals we see are usually either copper alloys or lead. Archaeological metals can be found in varying states of deterioration due to past use, burial, environment, and the excavation process. Luckily most recovered metals are in good condition with no active corrosion.

Metal objects are typically covered with a layer of burial accretions (calcium carbonate rich material that is naturally deposited) and soil that obscure the form and surface of the object.

Accretions or calcium carbonate coatings that develop during burial


Accretion removal is a delicate process which entails first removing any loose soil with a stiff brush. To tackle the accretions, we turn to the scalpel. Slow mechanical cleaning with a thin blade coupled with a few drops of ethanol can free soil trapped within layers of accretions, thus removing them both. We also use unorthodox materials to safely remove surface layers including porcupine quills.

Our tool kit! Including porcupine quills found on site at Kaymakçı. The quills are used to mechanically remove unwanted surface deposits.
On this copper alloy a glass bristled brush was used to aid accretion removal while preserving the protective and stable malachite oxide layer.
Once the obscuring accretions have been removed the form of the needle is revealed.
On the left: before treatment; On the right; after treatment.
Elena treating a copper needle under the microscope.
Leah treating a copper awl –a puncturing tool.

Our conservation team is working hard to conserve the artifacts from the site and hope to “Cu” Later!

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