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 (2017-07-05)

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!

Voices from the Field (2017-06-24)

So many sherds, so little time: re-analyzing pottery at Kaymakçı

Dalila Alberghina and Tunç Kaner

Team Members, from left to right: Tunç Kaner, Alparslan Aydın, Ebru Kiras, Adil Kekeç, Arzu Yıldırım, Elifnur Çetin, Fadime Şener, Miloš Roháček, and Kristina Jarošová (Not pictured: Dalila Alberghina, Berfin Güzel, Emine Şener, Mehmet Şener, and Aykut Erefe)

During the 2017 study season, the pottery team at Kaymakçı is re-examining the great amount of ceramic sherds collected in previous years. These have already been processed during the excavation seasons, but this year the goal is to analyze the pottery repertoire in more detail by looking for major groups and subgroups’ distinctions and correcting possible errors. This detailed study will allow a more careful assessment of intra-site variation and represents a pivotal element for the interpretation of the excavated contexts.

We follow the now well-established processing procedures. Every group of sherds collected from a context is divided into sub-groups according to fabric and typology, while diagnostic specimens (rims, handles, bases) are numbered and recorded separately.

  • Photographing a sample of ceramics.
  • Measuring color with the CAPSURE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All sherds have now been photographed and weighed. Additionally, the color of the interior and exterior surface is recorded using Pantone CAPSURE devices. Sherds of interest are also analyzed via 3D scanning. 

Making a 3D model.

The process requires teamwork and coordination, and we are lucky to have extra help sometimes!

Lucy helping out!

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

Voices from the Field (2017-06-16)

An exchange

Christina Luke

Last week, the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project (KAP) and the Fen Bilimleri School in Salihli had the opportunity to spend the day together. After tea, fresh apricots and homemade pastries, the students were split into three groups.

  • Project and school leadership meet.
  • Beautiful apricots from the Şener's garden.

 

In the ceramic lab, they were shown recording methods and 3D scanning. In the conservation lab, students learned about objects and science, and they tried to mend broken plates (from the local department store Kipa). It was hard!

In the zooarchaeology lab, they discussed the details of studying bones from the archaeological record to understand food patterns but also arts – wool and leather especially. KAP team members introduced students to using 3D images and virtual reality to determine the difference between sheep and goat bones.

In the afternoon, KAP members visited the school in Salihli. During a lovely poolside lunch, we met the director and talked with teachers and students about their school and future collaborations with KAP. We were impressed by their English and felt ashamed that we didn’t speak more Turkish!  

 

We were then shown the lower school, including the terrific chess room. We toured the main building to see classrooms as well as the wonderful café on the upper floor. Our time ended with a visit to the horses. We learned that this part of the curriculum promotes civil engagement and appreciation of animals.

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

Voices from the Field (2016-07-23)

Holding the Past

Peter Cobb

(Photo credits: Hakan Hatay)

People in the past used pottery in many aspects of their lives, but especially during meals. As we excavate each day at Kaymakçı, we uncover these vessels, broken into pieces and scattered throughout the site. Many of these vessels are bowls, useful for multiple purposes during meals.

As we work with these vessels, we have the chance to touch and hold them as people did in the past. Handles on the sides of the bowls still fit well in our own hands.

Even though the vessels are usually broken, we can imagine how they would have looked when complete, in the past. In this way, we connect with the people who lived thousands of years ago based on our shared human activities of eating and drinking.

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

Voices from the Field (2016-06-24)

Going 3D at Koç

Tunç Kaner

 

 

During my two years with the Kaymakçı Archeological Project (KAP), I have worked closely with Peter Cobb to develop a holistic recording system for ceramics from Kaymakçı. Related to this work, I have also recently begun to help with the 3D digital recording of ceramics from the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (CLAS), directed by Christina and Chris between 2005 and 2014.

I live and study in Izmir at Ege University, but I travelled to Istanbul a few times during the 2015–2016 academic year to work with the CLAS material in the Archaeology Lab at Koc University. I worked with Christina Luke and Chris Roosevelt in person, and Peter Cobb virtually, to train a team of MA and PhD students in 3D recording methods. I also set-up the project’s NextEngine 3D Scanner as well as photography and Pantone Capsure (Munsell) stations in the lab, where they will be set up again in the fall for the next academic year. The training took two weeks; later I monitored Koç students from Izmir and visited Istanbul again for intensive periods of work.

We are continuing the same procedures now in our field lab, where we are working with a larger team on classifying and documenting ceramics that have just been excavated.

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

Voices from the Field (2016-06-03)

Ceramics is in the air! Discussing pottery evidence at Kaymakçı

Peter Pavúk

 

 

It was with great pleasure that I joined, even if only for 10 days, the resident Gygaia team in Istanbul, more specifically my colleagues working at the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED).

My experience working extensively at excavations and in museum collections in Western Anatolia, the Aegean, and Europe (most notably my 15 years at the site of ancient Troy) has helped me a lot to frame the new finds from Kaymakçı, where I serve as one of the senior ceramic analysts. Unsurprisingly, the main aim of my visit to Istanbul centered around planning the upcoming 2016 field season, discussing with Christina Luke and Chris Roosevelt various prospects, but also publication strategies. I was given also a tour of the impressive Koç University campus in Sarıyer, including the Koç University Surface Science and Technology Center (KÜYTAM ), for archaeological and other scientific analyses.

In addition to my work at Kaymakçı, I am also involved in collaboration with the German team at Pergamon, where I previously participated in evaluation of the data from the prehistoric survey in the central and lower Kaikos Valley. I am currently also involved in a re-study of the pottery and stratigraphy of the so called early fortification, published originally as Archaic (6th century BCE) by W. Radt, but later re-dated to Middle/Late Bronze Age (mid 2nd millennium BCE) by D. Hertel. Therefore, I also managed to do some work in the Pergamon Archive.

While the processing and analysis of objects is certainly the focus of my work, the opportunity to travel during the year and meet with fellow researchers in collaborative environments is extraordinarily valuable. Not only was I able to meet with colleagues from Gygaia Projects and Pergamon, but I also had the opportunity to listen to lectures and sit and talk with friends based at various archaeological institutes in Istanbul.

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

Voices from the Field (2015-10-19)

Conservation Research at the University of Delaware

Remy Kneski and Adrienne Gendron

While working with KAP during the 2015 excavation season, Remy and Adrienne conducted research on conservation problems pertaining to material culture in archaeological settings. They are continuing to expand these research projects during the 2015–2016 academic year, after which their conclusions will be discussed in their senior theses.

Currently, Remy is working on aging of adhesives on a brick substrate. The four adhesives selected (Paraloid B-44, Paraloid B-72, Ground Hide Glue, and Derby) were naturally aged outside for 6 weeks over the summer and will be artificially aged this fall. The results of her research will determine which adhesive would be best for reconstruction of ceramics at an archaeological site in conditions of high temperature and relative humidity.

Adrienne is performing artificial aging on copper-alloy samples under different conditions to determine the effects of certain variables on their degradation. She hopes to obtain a more complete understanding of the chemical processes that cause degradation of copper-alloy (bronze) artifacts in situ in order to further characterize conservation concerns with metal artifacts excavated from Kaymakçi and propose effective solutions to ensure their long-term preservation.

In September, Remy and Adrienne also presented an outline of their summer experiences at KAP to the Art Conservation Freshmen Seminar at the University of Delaware. Because many art conservation students at the university have a wide range of interests in related fields, they spoke about the many components of fieldwork as well as their experiences performing conservation treatments on archaeological materials.

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

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 (2015-07-11)

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.

 

unpacking excavation area_Nicole

Nicole unpacking an excavation area from the 2014 season

 

adhesive testing_Remy

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