Voices from the Field (2019-06-07)

We’ve Moved: Reorganizing the new depot

Ayce Büyükmete and Kader Gürgen Erdem

This year, we were the “early birds,” arriving at the new Kaymakçı dig house to begin work in advance of the rest of the team. Our work will focus on identifying, analyzing, and sorting 2nd millennium BCE pottery that comes from the site each day.

Ayce, Kader, and Hakan working with artifacts.

We started the season by sorting and checking the inventory from previous years; this gave us the opportunity to touch and observe artifacts before the excavation started. We are indeed lucky! 

We begin by pulling all of the samples from each context (right now, we are focusing on area 97.541). We check the pictures in the database to make sure they are correct. We also re-weigh and re-count the samples to make sure that our data are accurate; these measurements will be used to study the ceramics from the site in the future. This process involves becoming familiar with new systems and technologies, including the project’s networked database and a series of apps that automatically save and label photographs of samples. We have also had the opportunity to learn about tools like the Pantone CapSure; this device digitally measures the color of artifacts and identifies their Munsell color.

The Munsell color chart was developed to describe the color of soils, ceramics, and other materials in archaeology. These “Munsell readers,” as we call them, make taking these measurements very quick, and also help to keep measurements standardized between analysts.
Yiğit and Mustafa looking for “joins” (where two sherds fit together).

After checking all the data in each sample, everything is put back into the depot. The new depot will be organized by excavation area and context number, so all samples will be easy to find for researchers in the future. 

Yaşar working in the new depot.

Now that excavation is beginning, we are excited to welcome new information and materials, and to share new experiences with friends and fellow researchers. 

Let this be a successful excavation season! 

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

Voices from the Field (2019-06-04)

Using Digital Tools to Understand New Excavation Areas

Catherine Scott

Excavation area 97.541 is a good example of the potential history of an excavation area at Kaymakçı. It was first excavated in 2015 by Emily Wilson, then continued in 2016 by Haley Chasteene. Emily returned for the study season in 2017 to reassess the area in advance of our recent summary publication. Now I will be excavating this area again in 2019. 

A drone photograph of area 97.541 from the beginning of this season.

The extensive digital documentation that results from our workflow at Kaymakçı facilitates the transfer of an excavation area from one area supervisor to another, as well as research during the off-season or during study seasons. 


An excavator or researcher will generally start with the available reports; at Kaymakçı, we write regular interim and final reports that include both a narrative of what occurred during the season and the excavator’s interpretations. The report also includes a Harris matrix, a form of representation very common to archaeologists that helps visualize stratigraphic sequences (or, the physical relationships between deposits and features). 

Part of the Harris matrix from 97.541.

We also create other forms of digital documentation that are extremely helpful in understanding the work that has been done to date.

Excavation journals are written in Evernote and archived on the project data server; excavators can easily take pictures and annotate them to explain how they are excavating or to highlight features of interest.

A section of Emily’s notes from 2015.

Our networked project database allows for easy access to data on contexts and samples. It pulls together information from all participants, including excavators and specialists.

The Excavation database form. We currently use Microsoft Access, but are in the process of developing a web-based platform!

Spatial data recorded in ESRI’s ArcMap (a Geographic Information System, or GIS) are also easily available. We archive all files from previous years, so researchers can access plans from each day of excavation to see how they were recorded by the excavator at the time. These “day plans” show the state of the excavation area at the end of each day.

A day plan from 2015.

We also have access to the 3D models produced for every context, which provide all the spatial data from the excavations. Because these models are detailed and dynamic, they can often provide much more clarity than traditional photographs. These models help us to “relive” the excavation, in a way, by allowing us to see what each context looked like before and after it was removed, in all of its three-dimensional complexity. We also continue to develop 3D volumes of each context using these models, which allow us to virtually reconstruct and re-excavate each area in different ways.

The 3D model from a 2016 context, shown in Agisoft Photoscan.

All these resources are available via our networked data server, and therefore directly on each area supervisor’s computer via a remote desktop connection. With all these tools at our disposal, we are able to get up to speed quickly on previously unfamiliar excavation areas!

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

Voices from the Field (2019-05-27)

Welcome back to Kaymakçı!

Voices from the Field has been “on leave” since the 2017 field season, but the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project team has not been idle! The project continues to move forward with a number of publications, discussing topics ranging from broad overviews of the site and its region to specific studies on materials from the excavation and previous regional survey.

We are excited to explore three different sectors of the site this year with continuing excavations. In area 95.555, Ebru Kaner (PhD candidate, Istanbul University) hopes to improve current understandings of the fortification system, including refining the date of its initial construction and later modifications. In area 97.541, Catherine Scott (PhD, Boston University) aims to investigate the earliest phases of a suite of building complexes in the Inner Citadel. In area 109.523, Dalila Alberghina (PhD candidate, Koç University) is continuing to explore the use of a suite of buildings in the middle of the Southern Terrace, with an additional goal of determining the depth and date of artificial fills that extend at least 3.5 m below the modern ground surface.

There are new developments in our off-site work, as well. We’ve recently moved from the temporary accommodations we’ve been privileged to make use of for the last several years to a new facility and have begun to re-inventory and reorganize five years of excavation materials. Long-term and painstaking work with ceramics, metals, small finds, mudbrick, sediment chemistry, plant remains, animal bones, and more is beginning to bear intellectually stimulating and interesting fruit, helping to situate Kaymakçı within broader understandings of second-millennium BCE western Anatolia. We are continuing to develop digital technologies for 3D recording on site and in the lab, also, with improvements to display and analysis coming soon. 

More detailed posts on many of these topics are soon to appear, so we hope you’ll welcome the return of our “Voices” and follow along here and on our social media accounts!

Voices from the Field (2014-06-17)


Introductory comments

This post begins our series of Voices from the Field, a means of disseminating news about the activities of Gygaia Projects in a popular format. Work so far this year has included geophysical survey under the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey and a host of activities relating to the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project. For Voices from the Field, we’ve asked project participants to write up brief photo-reports based on talks with and visits to the various areas of activity that make up our research program. This week’s post comes from the directors and their leadership teams.

Housing and Food

As in past years, we’re based in the small community of Tekelioğlu. During this summer season, we make up 10% (30 people) of the population (300 people). Team members are set up in various rental houses with our base of operations at a central location that includes two laboratories (a “dirty” lab for conservation and environmental archaeology and a ceramic processing area) and a studio for architectural study, spatial modeling, and GIS research. We are at capacity and looking forward to the construction of a research and educational center – plans for which are underway!

Our cooks are once again making our work easier. Bread is baked on-site in earthen ovens and eggs – as well as lettuce and other produce – are fresh from the farm. As always, the olives and extra virgin olive oil from the surrounding fields are favorites.

“GygaiaNet”: A solar solution to real-time 3D recording

Chris Roosevelt

With the inception of excavation at Kaymakçı, the project has established an integrated recording solution that processes laser-scanning and photogrammetric point-cloud data into rendered digital models in near-real time to increase the efficiency of archaeological field recording. Needed for this system was a robust wireless connection between excavation site and labs and the electricity to power it. The implementation of this system, which we call “GygaiaNet” has included the installation of a Point-to-Point wireless system and a photovoltaic (PV) system to power it.

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The signal is beamed from an antenna on the third floor of our home base in Tekelioğlu over 6 km to Kaymakçı.

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The receiving antenna is on the tall bar of number four-shaped wireless-PV mast, between Sinan Ünlüsoy (Assistant Director for Excavations) and Peter Cobb (Assistant Director for Information Architecture). For reference, Tekelioğlu is on the lake shore between Peter and the car door.

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A team from Salihli installed the PV system. 

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The wireless-PV mast is anchored with guy wires to buffer against strong winds. From this central point, electric and fiber-optic cables carry the signal in three directions (visible to left and right along the ground) to wireless access points near each excavation area.

The system will be complete once we install a local weather station (to see just how strong local winds are!) and a wireless security camera to help monitor the protection of the site. 

Samples laboratory

Peter Cobb

As we excavate each context on Kaymakçı, large quantities of the material remains of Bronze Age culture are uncovered.  We find objects of everyday use such as ceramic bowls or animal bones, as well as the occasional special object made out of metal, stone, or other materials.  As we collect these, they become “samples”, which are brought to our Tekelioğlu base of operation.  Here, we sort them by type, photograph them and record important analytical data into our centralized database.  We have also begun to use a portable desktop laser scanner to create digital 3d models of some of the objects so they can be studied from anywhere in the world.  By collecting all of these data about the objects used in the past, we are able to understand how people lived thousands of years ago.

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Geophysical survey

Dominique Langis-Barsetti

Electrical resistance survey continued at Kaymakçı in preparation for the excavation season. 

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Electrical resistance survey is conducted by inserting mobile and remote probes into the ground at regular intervals and measuring the resistance of the completed circuit using specialised equipment. The data thus collected is processed into an image of the buried archaeological features (upper left corner).

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Although most of the processing is typically done in the lab, data can be checked in the field when necessary.

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Good ground moisture is preferred for electrical resistance, but dryer and harder soils can still be surveyed, albeit with increased difficulty.

Conservation

Caitlin O’Grady

During the first week of the KAP excavation season, conservation team members organized the new lab space, as well as prepared micro-chemical material characterization tests and mixed adhesives for use during the excavation season. Experimental mortar and grout mixtures, exposed to the elements since the end of the 2013 field season, were assessed by team members for condition, durability and weathering properties. The majority were in very good condition and selected recipes will be adopted for use with mudbrick and stone masonry on site.

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Environmental Archaeology

John (Mac) Marston

During the first week of the 2014 season, despite unseasonably cold and rainy weather, the environmental archaeology team set up our laboratory facilities, arranged for the construction of a new flotation tank, and scavenged the village for animal bones to begin to build a comparative collection. Flotation is the process by which ancient plant remains are separated from archaeological soils and requires a water source, pump, and tank for cleaning the soil and collecting the plant remains (mainly seeds). In order to identify animal bones from archaeological sites we compare fragments of bone found during excavation to skeletons of animals that lived near the site—a comparative collection—which we assemble from modern animal bones in the area today, burying them carefully to remove any remaining soft tissue through natural decay.

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