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 (2016-07-14)

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 (2016-07-10)

Newcomers at Kaymakçı!

Haley Chasteene and József Puskás

Newcomers to an archaeological project usually have a period of adjustment. Luckily, here at Kaymakçı, a fast-paced learning environment and very friendly team and staff can help alleviate newbie stress. Haley is a recent graduate from San Diego State University and has a background in the archaeology of California. Joska received a MA degree from BBU from Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and has experience in excavating Bronze Age sites in Transylvania. We both decided to join this project to widen our knowledge of digital archaeological technologies and to experience a new environment.

Teamwork: Haley Chasteene recording coordinates with the RTK GPS, while Joska Puskas holds digital photogrammetry target in place.

Teamwork: Haley Chasteene recording coordinates with the RTK GPS, while Joska Puskas holds a digital photogrammetry target in place.

We enjoy the opportunity to learn and use a more digitally based recording system.

Recording new features in our excavation area.

Recording new features in our excavation area.

Our staff lives in villages surrounding Kaymakçı. Having daily exposures to local culture and language is just another perk of this already rewarding archaeological experience.

Çay mola. One of our favorite times of the day.

Çay mola. One of our favorite times of the day.

Every day we continue to widen our knowledge of a paperless digital recording system, while also spanning our view of Turkish culture and language. We are very thankful to be a part of the team.

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

Voices from the Field (2016-06-29)

What happens when you don’t excavate for two years? – reviewing excavation area protection measures

Caitlin R. O’Grady

Every season, we spend a lot of time and effort implementing measures to protect excavation areas between field seasons. This includes “wrapping” architecture, scarps and baulks with geotextile, a water permeable cloth made from thermally bonded non-woven polypropylene fibers. The geotextile protects these features minimizing erosion and plant growth. Following wrapping, we use rocks and “dirt bags” to ensure complete protection.

However, long term exposure to plants, animals and the elements between seasons cause the geotextile to degrade, which makes it necessary to “unwrap” and “rewrap” architecture and excavation areas.

Luckily, I work with a great team of people that make this process smooth – even on the two hottest days of the season! 46° and 47° C (that’s 115° and 117° F!) thus far.

Photo: Hakan Hatay

Photo: Hakan Hatay

In anticipation of this process, the conservation team unrolled geotextile to cut more manageable pieces to use in the field.

In anticipation of this process, the conservation team unrolled geotextile to cut more manageable pieces to use in the field.

We then “unwrap” the excavation area

We then “unwrap” the excavation area.

We then check architecture for stability.

We then check architecture for stability.

Finally, we are ready to “rewrap”! (Photo: Hakan Hatay)

Finally, we are ready to “rewrap”! (Photo: Hakan Hatay)

And more teamwork on one of the hottest days of the season! (Photo: Hakan Hatay)

And more teamwork on one of the hottest days of the season! (Photo: Hakan Hatay)

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

Voices from the Field (2016-06-19)

A new season at Kaymakçı!

Chris Roosevelt & Christina Luke

We’re back in the field for another excavation season of the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project. Storage depots and excavation areas have been reopened, the team has arrived from universities in Turkey, Europe, and the US, general orientations are complete, and we are moving fully forward to continue to explore this ever surprising citadel from around 3500 years ago.

We hope you enjoy following the project’s progress as the season unfolds!

 

It’s back to early mornings again for an enthusiastic team (Photo: Hakan Hatay)

We broke ground in excavation areas at Kaymakçı, overlooking scenic Lake Marmara and environs, and held introductory orientations for participants on site and in labs (Photo: Chris Roosevelt)

Catherine Scott (Boston University PhD Candidate and Koç University ANAMED Fellow) discusses excavation strategies with Sinan Ünlüsoy (KAP Assistant Director, Yaşar University) (Photo: Hakan Hatay)

Training in the recording system with Ebru Ayten (Middle East Technical University), as well as Veli Tekin and Mustafa Çelebı (Büyükbelen) (Photo: Hakan Hatay)

Haley Chasteene (recent UCSD grad), József Puskás (Babeş-Bolyai University), and Jana Mokrišová (University of Michigan PhD Candidate and Koç University ANAMED Fellow) plot their plan of action (Photo: Hakan Hatay)

Necmettin Akar (Büyükbelen), Rojda Arslan and Hazel Özmen (Koç University), and Dan Plekhov (Brown University) consider different problems across an excavation area (Photo: Hakan Hatay)

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 (2015-07-05)

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 (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 (2014-12-10)

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).