Voices from the Field (2015-06-23)

Archaeological Ceramics at Kaymakçı

Peter Cobb

The case of the broken vase: how an archaeology team investigates Bronze Age life through detailed study of everyday items.

For many millennia people have used ceramic vessels for the storage, preparation, and consumption of food and drink. Pottery's centrality to basic human activities along with its near indestructible material nature usually make it the most abundant material class uncovered by archaeological excavations. Of the samples found at Kaymakçı last year, 90% were ceramic when measured by either count or weight, with the remaining samples including material classes such as bone, stone and metal.

Because of its abundance, the careful recording of the ceramics is a team effort (see photos). Each day, team members study such characteristics as the shapes, colors, and clay fabrics of the ceramic vessels.

 

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The team sorting a context of sherds.

Continuing the careful and detailed digital recording done with field stratigraphy, we also apply a set of technologies in the lab to record information about ceramics accurately and efficiently. Thus we use Pantone Capsure devices to measure colors digitally and a NextEngine portable 3d laser scanner to record shape. In this way, we can most objectively compare each ceramic sample both with each other at our site, as well as with the published materials from other nearby sites.

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Lab co-manager and Ege University student Tunç Kaner 3d scanning a ceramic sherd.

Gygaia Projects has always strived for scientific rigor in the study of pottery. Research led by project co-director Dr. Christina Luke analyzed survey ceramics from Kaymakçı and the surrounding region typologically, chemically, and mineralogically. This has provided a very interesting picture of the social, economic, and political history of the region, a picture that is detailed in an article in a fully Open Access issue of the Journal of Field Archaeology, already available online (http://www.maneyonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/2042458215Y.0000000009)!

Voices from the Field (2015-06-18)

Excavation North

Kyle Egerer

Meet the excavation team working at the northern edge of Kaymakçı’s citadel!

 

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Our tireless and endlessly enthusiastic team from the nearby villages of Hacıveliler and Büyükbelen!

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At times, objects come out of the ground that require hands-on explanation. An inspiring aspect of working with this fine group of people is their eagerness to learn about the cultures and materiality that previously populated the areas they now inhabit.

 

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We eat a number of different types of bread during our breaks. After explaining that the Hittites of Late Bronze Age Anatolia had at least 120 types of bread, our workers laughed proclaiming, “That’s nothing, we have 150 different kinds!” Here, you see three local varieties along with menemen, olives, and a tomato – all local fare.

 

From an ethnoarchaeological point of view it is interesting to listen to descriptions of local histories and understandings of the past. This dialogue adds a different character to the archaeology we are doing on site!

Voices from the Field (2014-12-20)

Gygaia Projects Presentations at Koç University in İstanbul

This fall Gygaia Projects was represented twice in İstanbul, once on the main campus of Koç University and once at its Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (RCAC), the premier research center in the world for scholars focusing on all aspects of the civilizations of Anatolia (archaeology, arts, history, literature, economy, etc.) from the Neolithic through the Ottoman periods.

We hope to report soon on presentations planned for various other venues in spring 2015. Until then, best wishes to all our readers for a Happy New Year!

From Sèvres to UNESCO: Water Diplomacy and Cultural Sovereignty in the Gediz Valley

In September I presented research on long-term and future diplomacy initiatives in the Gediz Valley at Koç University. I examined İzmir and its countryside and the impact of U.S., European, and Russian influence. Case studies included İzmir’s Kültürpark, Gediz Basin water projects, restoration initiatives at Sardis, claims to sovereignty in the region of Bin Tepe, and the future impact of World Heritage and EU programs. My research brought together results from ethnography, policy, and field survey.

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Ceramics of the Second Millennium BCE in Western Anatolia

While pursing my dissertation as a PhD candidate in the University of Pennsylvania's Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World program, I am currently a junior fellow at the RCAC, located in the heart of İstanbul on İstiklal Street near Taksim Square.

As part of my fellowship, I gave a talk in November about my dissertation research on the second millennium BCE ceramics of western Anatolia. The talk gave me an opportunity to introduce to this community the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (CLAS) (www.bu.edu/clas), the first initiative of Gygaia Projects.

Three other fellows presented on the same night, and their topics give a good sense of the breadth of research being conducted at the RCAC. One presentation discussed the impact of the fall of Constantinople in 1453 on Byzantine book production, while another investigated Greek manuscripts of the Middle Byzantine period. The third talk compared Islamic period grave monument traditions in Turkey and Central Asia.

Voices from the Field (2014-12-03)

An early December greeting…

… with updates from two more of our project participants on their professional outreach activities this fall. Enjoy!

A student presentation in Delaware

Remi Kneski

On October 30th I presented on “Gygaia Projects: the Kaymakci Archaeological Project (KAP)” at the University of Delaware.

The presentation focused on my time in the conservation lab on site and in Tekelioğlu. A typical work day for me consisted of cleaning the various types of artifacts coming out of the field, including ceramic and metal items, testing the conductivity of these objects, and cataloging them in the database to make sure their record would be saved for future purposes.

On-site conservation of a stack of three ceramic vessels

On-site conservation of a stack of three ceramic vessels

The team’s conservators and I also spent a lot of time testing different mixtures of mortar to find one that would eventually be used for the consolidation of excavated architectural features. In addition, we participated in the removal of several ceramic vessels from the excavation areas and, once they got back to the lab, cleaned and reconstructed them to the best of our abilities.

A view of closed excavation areas at Kaymakçı from September 2014.

A view of closed excavation areas at Kaymakçı from September 2014.

When it came to be the end of the season, we closed each of the four excavation areas, which entailed mortaring loose architecture, covering areas with geotextile, and weighing the geotextile down with sand bags and surrounding rocks. It was an incredible and knowledge-producing experience and I can’t wait to return in 2015!

Thermal Zoning in Vernacular Anatolian Settlements at VerSuS 2014

Tim Frank

Representing my co-authors and Gygaia Projects Directors, Christina Luke and Chris Roosevelt, I traveled to Spain in September to present work at the International Conference on Vernacular Heritage, Sustainability and Earthen Architecture (VerSus). It was my first trip to Spain and I must say that I was completely overcome by the quality of urban space that infused places like Valencia and Barcelona. The paper entitled, “Thermal Zoning and Natural Ventilation in Vernacular Anatolian Settlements” was presented in front of a full audience in the School of Architecture’s Aula Magna at the Universitat Politecnica de Valencia. The conference theme was, “Lessons from Vernacular Heritage to Sustainable Architecture” and its primary goal was to identify fundamental principles from vernacular heritage while exploring ways to integrate those principles into the design of more eco-responsible buildings.

Renderings and simulations of a sector of the central Anatolian Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük

Renderings and simulations of a sector of the central Anatolian Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük

Our contribution used state-of-the-art computational fluid dynamics (CFD) platforms to examine how early populations achieved thermal zoning by putting basic building attributes and material constituents to task, finely attuning building assemblages to ever-changing factors such as prevailing airflow. Two Anatolian settlements, Çatalhöyük (above) and Mardin (below), were analyzed using CFD platforms to disclose their respective passive cooling strategies relative to variable inputs, including wind velocity and direction. The presentation reported the findings from this analysis and discussed how these attributes produced comfort levels that rival contemporary standards, including air-change rates at 1.5 meters per second. The presentation also demonstrated how these vernacular strategies from antiquity have been adapted for use in the design of the Gygaia Projects research and educational center to passively maintain thermal comfort while offsetting energy consumption.

Renderings and simulations of a sector of the southeastern Anatolian Roman (and modern) site of Mardin

Renderings and simulations of a sector of the southeastern Anatolian Roman (and modern) site of Mardin

Voices from the Field (2014-08-05)

“All good things must come to an end”…

… at least temporarily. The excavation areas are now closed, and – in partnership with the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Manisa Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography, and Yaşar University – the Boston University Kaymakçı Archaeological Project has now rounded out its inaugural season! These new excavations supplement ten seasons of survey in the region, reinforcing the importance of Kaymakçı in our understanding of Bronze Age communities in the Marmara Lake basin and western Anatolia and the nature of their connections to central Anatolian and Aegean communities.

We are grateful to everyone who participated: 60+ crew members from communities in the region as well as those affiliated with various universities in the US (Boston, Cincinnati, Delaware, Michigan, Mississippi State, Penn, Virgina Tech, UC Davis), Europe (Charles (Prague), Freiburg, Gröningen, UCL), and Turkey (Ege, Koç, Nevşehir, Yaşar, Yeditepe).

  • Geophysics Team

We look forward to next year when the excavation areas and laboratories will reopen for what we hope to be another fruitful season. In the meantime, our work will focus on the many new opportunities brought forth by this season’s results, always making the most of collaborations with faculty and students throughout the academic year:

  • 3D illustrations of objects, architecture, and landscapes
  • lab analyses focusing on human-environmental interactions and subsistence economies
  • ongoing documentation of oral histories
  • collaborative development of a regional management plan
  • interpretation of new results and publication of previous work
  • continued design of the Gygaia Projects research and educational center, and
  • grant writing and fundraising to support all these activities.

Our partners still in Tekelioğlu and at Kaymakçı will continue to assist in many aspects of the project, too, from planning gardens, to preparing for the construction of the research and educational center, to remaining vigilant in the long-term protection and preservation of the site.

Also ongoing will be the weather station’s recorder – what better way to understand the impact of annual cycles of environmental conditions? Accompanying our WeatherBug and assisting our site guard, Ferit, will be an “eye in the sky,” a new night-vision enabled security system to help monitor the site while we are away.

Thanks to all for following our “Voices” from the eight weeks of this season – we’ll look forward to keeping you as up to date as possible over the coming months.

Until then, a traditional watery goodbye!

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Voices from the Field (2014-07-22)

Socializing

We periodically take advantage of our proximity to Lake Marmara by holding a scenic mangal (bbq) on the platform where fisherman sell their haul. Makes for a great team photo spot, as well!

Excavation

Nick Gauthier

The summer heat has finally set in at Kaymakçı. Thanks to the weather station on site, we always know exactly how hot it is in the field and, for those brave enough to check, how hot it will get before the day ends. Team members gladly exchange tips for tying headscarves and keeping water bottles cold.

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Words for essentials like su (water), gölge (shade), and ruzgar (wind) have become part of everyone’s vocabulary. The winds help with the heat, but the 45 mph gusts present their own problems.

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As archaeologists, it is tempting to focus on exotic finds and burned layers that hint at interactions with other sites in the region and highlight the importance of Kaymakçı in the ancient Mediterranean world. But our understanding of the site depends equally on uncovering the daily rhythms of its ancient inhabitants, and our daily battles with the wind and sun encourage us always to think on this smaller scale of individuals.

Environmental/Botanical Analyses

Anna Graham

Since our last paleoethnobotany update, flotation has continued in full force. As the days grow hotter, the flotation tank is the coolest place to be.

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In addition to floating the samples, we spend much of our time processing materials that come out of the soil samples. This involves sorting out the pottery, bone, and other things that don’t float in water.

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Landscape Architecture

Terry Clements

This week the design team has been working on schematic plans for a new research and educational center to house future team members during excavation seasons. Tim Frank and Manny Moss are also looking at this season’s excavation areas and creating 3D models of what’s been found so far. In both projects Tim is studying wind flow patterns and how buildings influence airflow for natural cooling.

We could have used some cooling breezes this week when the temperature reached 104 degrees!! While we are sitting in the old village schoolhouse, the representation team’s office space, it is hard to imagine that local children got much studying done in the still-hot room.

I have been working on refining the conceptual site design for the new research and educational center as the architecture team is refining the building designs. We’ve incorporated team meeting areas and some garden spaces into the plan. Once the soil floatation studies are analyzed and ancient plant species identified, we hope to build a Bronze Age demonstration garden. It will be a nice visual complement to the vegetable garden intended to help feed the team in future years. In the meantime, I’m using more analog means to study the local landscape.

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Ceramics

Peter Pavuk

Pottery, or rather fragments of it, are without any exaggeration the most common and numerous find-category on any excavation. And its value is just as manifold. In the first place, it helps us to date the excavated contexts, since fashion was constantly changing even in the Bronze Age, so too did the typology of ceramic vessel shapes. Paying closer attention to the production technology teaches us about a wider-reaching network of contacts and exchange of knowledge. The know-how was just as important (and often treasured) as it is today. Finally, search for imports or new decorative techniques, can reveal potentially far-reaching trade routes.

Going through the freshly excavated lots of pottery, often still wet in the drying sieves, made me soon aware that there seems to be a clear pattern of difference between the various excavation areas. A more thorough look at selected contexts revealed that at least two distinctive ceramic phases can be identified. Their date can be further pin-pointed by drawing parallels from other sites, but since most of them are hundreds of kilometers away, Kaymakçı will certainly become THE yardstick for the definition of ceramic development in Central Western Anatolia.