Voices from the Field (2017-02-01)

Planted in Istanbul

Nami Shin

A beautiful day at Koç.

Analyzing ancient plant material is extremely rewarding, but can be a laborious process as well. A single archaeobotanical sample can take anywhere from a couple of hours to days to finish. However, being on the beautiful campus of Koç University makes the analysis just a bit easier. A beautiful forest surrounds the university and the various plants that decorate the campus are all labeled with their scientific names. As an archaeobotanist, the abundance of nature is calming to me and the labeling of the plants is something I truly appreciate.

 

 

 

My time at Koç this year has mostly been spent analyzing the botanical samples from the 2016 excavation season. The analyses have proven fruitful and I have found many exciting things in the samples. For more information, look out for future publications!

Appreciating the fact that all the plants are labeled.

Nami analyzing a sample at the Archaeology lab at Koç.

 

Analyzing these samples is extremely important in understanding what life was like at Kaymakçı during the Bronze Age. At Kaymakçı we know they were eating barley, different varieties of wheat, grape, and different legumes among other things. Looking at the past through plant remains not only gives us an idea of what they were eating, but also the other types of plants that dotted the landscape of the site. We can see what kinds of flowers and other wild plants were present, giving us a richer picture of what life looked like for the ancient inhabitants.

As the excavation continues, our knowledge of the ancient environment will also continue to grow. I look forward to learning more about these ancient people and I hope you do too!

The garden. One of the most beautiful places on the Koç campus.

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

Voices from the Field (2016-07-14)

Floating at Kaymakçi

Emily Johnson

So, what does it take to transform bags of unremarkable soil samples into analyzable carbonized material? At the Kaymakçi Archaeological Project, this involves a large orange flotation tank and a lot of water pressure.

In order to deliver water to the tank so that we can dissolve the soil and leave the carbonized remains floating on the surface of the water, an electric-powered pump pushes water up a hill to a repository, where it then flows back down the hill. The floatation team is able to take advantage of the water pressure both as it is being pushed up the hill and as it is falling back down in order to help release stubborn carbonized plant and seed parts from the soil.

Of course, this often involves a bit of troubleshooting, including building a series of canals to divert water flow, dealing with temperamental hoses and valves, and managing the local wildlife.

In the end, the carbonized remains that are analyzed during the off-season are invaluable in helping the project to understand the life and environment of the people living at Kaymakçi.

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

Voices from the Field (2015-07-05)

Kaymakçı from Above!

Manny Moss

Eyes in the Sky: a new UAV is providing fresh perspectives on the site and surrounding landscape, and changing the way archaeology happens.

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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have recently become affordable, reliable, and powerful enough to join the archaeological toolkit. Here at Kaymakçı, we’re using the camera mounted on our new DJI Phantom to document ongoing excavation activities, explore the surrounding landscape, and aid in our efforts to construct 3D, volumetric models of archaeological deposits.

Capable of taking video and still imagery, precision-guided by GPS, and with flight times exceeding twenty minutes, our new UAV allows for shadow-free, top-down shots from ten, twenty, or even 100 meters above the ground.

 

The images from the UAV have also proven to be an excellent addition to the mapping and 3D spatial components of the project. The UAV’s photographs can be pieced together in a photogrammetry program to produce a hyper-accurate digital elevation model of the site, the landform on which it sits, and the surrounding hills, valleys, and waterways. This landscape model can be used by many of the other specialists on the project to make inferences about past and present land use, hydrology, agriculture, and human occupation.

 


Taking aerial photographs, and shooting HD video early in the morning takes advantage of the raking light to reveal subtle topographical details.

 

New perspectives offered by the UAV have aided in understanding spatial relationships difficult to see from ground level, and have given those of us working on the ground a fresh eye on Kaymakçı’s neighborhood. We look forward to applying this tool in new ways in the near future!

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 (2014-12-10)

Good press and a student symposium at Boston University

A recent series of feature articles in BU Today (Boston University's daily newspaper) highlighted the recent archaeological work of BU affiliates. Coverage of Gygaia Projects was particularly positive and may even provide perspectives that are new, even to frequent readers of our "voices" posts.

BU Today

Earlier this semester an archaeology major working with Prof. Marston presented a summary of her research from summer 2014 that is continues throughout this academic year.

Poster Presentation at Boston University

Nami Shin

My field and lab research from summer 2014 culminated in a poster presentation for the Undergraduate Research Symposium at Boston University sponsored by BU's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).

The annual symposium provides chances for students funded by UROP to present their UROP research. Poster topics ranged across many different fields and showcased the research proficiency of the undergraduates at BU.

Eager to show that Archaeology, too, has exciting and novel research going on, I presented some of the botanical remains from Kaymakçı. In the field, I collected botanical samples that yielded carbonized seed remains from different economic plants, such as cereals, pulses, and fruits. At the symposium, I talked to parents, fellow students, and professors about how archaeologists can recreate the diets of ancient peoples as well as their agricultural systems. I explained that the presence and preservation conditions of certain plant remains are indications of what plants people ate and how they grew them.

Talking to interested people from all different backgrounds, I realized how important it was to make the varied aspects of archaeology relevant in modern-day times. The symposium was successful in exposing a variety of people to undergraduate research and, most importantly for me, archaeological research.

At, Kaymakçı I found evidence of barley (Hordeum vulgare) and wheat (Triticum aestivum) grains, as well as grape seeds (Vitis vinifera).

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 (2014-11-20)

We’re back!

Well... Not yet back in Turkey, but…

It took some time to let the dust settle from the season – with annual cycles of report writing, grant writing, and then permit renewal applications – but we now aim to raise our collective voices again, this time reporting over the next months on the various off-season activities of and associated with Gygaia Projects.

In this posting, we hear (or rather see) from Mehmet Şener (son of Doğan and Müslüme), who snapped a few pictures of Kaymakçı in September, wonderfully capturing the golden light of the late afternoon sun. Thereafter, Kyle Egerer reports on a post-season opportunity in central Turkey.

Mehmet Şener’s Pictures from Kaymakçı

  • View from inner citadel east over Lake Marmara

A Presence at QuickLakeH2014 in central Turkey

Kyle Egerer
Barely out of the western Anatolian dust, I soon found myself presenting in Ankara at the QuickLakeH2014 conference between the 15th and 19th of September at the Maden Tetkik ve Arama (MTA) Natural History Museum. This conference was organized by a highly devoted and passionate team of geologists and quaternary scientists from Ankara University (Ankara Üniversitesi) and the Quaternary Research Group (Kuvaterner Araştırma Grubu). The goal of the conference was to bring together an interdisciplinary group of scientists to address the topic of lakes, environment, and human interactions during the Quaternary Period – our current period of geologic time. In a paper titled, “Water and People in the Marmara Lake Basin (Middle Gediz), Western Turkey” (authored by Luke, Roosevelt, Gauthier, and Egerer), we addressed the effects of yearly fluctuations in water availability and long-term environmental trends on humans. We were particularly interested in how these natural changes could help explain the ebb and flow of human settlement in the study area of the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (CLAS), the first initiative of Gygaia Projects (www.bu.edu/clas).
  • The QuickLakeH 2014 group at the conference.
As the lone archaeologist amongst paleoenvironmentalists and geologists at the conference, I learned the importance of stepping outside the confines of my discipline to engage with research questions and approaches far outside my own. Upon the conclusion of the conference participants departed on a two-and-a-half day fieldtrip through the Konya basin of modern-day south-central Turkey to experience first-hand – at places like Tüz Gölü and the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük – how crucial geology and hydrology can be for interactions between both humans and humans and the environment.

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.

Voices from the Field (2014-07-01)

Regional Survey / Regional Archaeology / The Central Lydia Archaeological Survey

Brad Sekedat

In addition to the exciting start to excavation at Kaymakçı, work continues on regional data collected over the course of ten field seasons under the auspices of the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (CLAS). These data, which come in the form of pottery and other finds, archaeological features in the landscape, their associations to the region’s natural topography, subsurface geophysics, and ethnographic study, help us understand patterns in this dynamic region. Although we are not conducting regional survey this summer, work goes on as we prepare to publish our results. My days are primarily spent immersing myself in the database, writing, and synthesizing material in order to understand better human relationships with the landscapes of the Marmara Lake basin over time.

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Flotation and Environmental Research

Nami Shin

This week the paleoethnobotany team started flotation of the soil samples that we have received from the field, and some have the potential to yield ancient plant material! To understand further the environment of Kaymakçı, we have been studying its various plants.

When we aren’t at the flotation tank or studying plants and excavating at Kaymakçı, we help to catalogue the ceramics that are brought back to the lab.

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Excavation

Natalie Susmann

The past few weeks have been very exciting in our area. We began finding features fairly quickly, and the excavations continue to reveal a complex set of activities. The entire team is honing their paperless archaeological recording, fieldwork, and material recovery techniques, including details of conservation and preservation. English and Turkish are being learned by all!

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Conservation

Becky Bennett and Jenna Shaw

Our toolkits are at the ready to respond to the material from this first year of excavation, helping illuminate the palimpsest of Kaymakçı. As the excavators work from the ground down, the conservation team needs to be prepared for anything. The material currently coming in from the field for conservation is thrillingly varied, ranging from evidence of an early twentieth-century military presence to ceramics and metals that hint at the site’s more ancient past.

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