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.

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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 (2014-11-20)

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 (2014-07-15)

Tea – Çay

At 10 am each day (on site and in the laboratories), we have a morning tea or “çay” break. Müslüme and Ayşe prepare wonderful breads (sweet cakes, often with a touch of lemon or cinnamon) or savory treats. Today we had a light pastry (börek) filled with a crumble of cheese, parsley, red and green peppers, and a touch of olive oil.

Nearby Sites

Each season the team takes a well-deserved 3-day break – a chance to get away, relax, and rejuvenate before the second half of the season. The break this year was at the beginning of last week. Destinations included Çandarlı and Bodrum (and their nearby beaches and fabulous calamari), and visits to Priene, Didyma, Miletus, and İstanbul (a short flight from İzmir). Here Tim Frank shares some of his sketches from nearby locations.

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Sketches of the Terrace Houses and the Bouleuterion at Ephesos

 

4th of July in a Temple of Artemis

One of the closest tourist locations to us is the ancient site of Sardis. It has become a tradition to celebrate the 4th of July with our old friends and colleagues there. Nick Cahill, director of the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis, gave our crew a terrific tour of the excavation areas, followed by a cocktail party, dinner, and a moonlight night in the Temple of Artemis.

The Ceramics Lab

Tunç Kaner and Mert Külekçioğlu

This week we worked with excavated and washed ceramics, organizing them by form, color, material, and size, tagging and photographing them. We then made 3D models of ceramics displaying diagnostic features by scanning them with a NextEngine laser scanner. We then trimmed and organized the 3D models. Furthermore, we entered into the database the counts, color, and weights of the other ceramics we photographed. This is what we generally do in the ceramics lab. Both of us think that working here has been a very educational experience and also a lot of fun!

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Excavation

Alice Crowe

Now well into our fifth week, the excavation areas are getting deeper, the workload ever increasing, and the Turkish-English barriers slowly melting. As an excavation area supervisor, I have been busy in the field and the lab processing finds, recording and directing the excavation of my area, attempting to interpret the uncovered material, and sometimes even picking up a trowel myself (!). To help with all of this, members of the project who work primarily on pottery, bones, and botanical remains rotate through the field twice a week to bring fresh perspectives to the excavated material. While I get help from these members on a rotating basis, I share the workload with members of local communities every day, who kindly put up with my çok kötü (very bad) Turkish and bring me delicious homegrown fruit!

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Photography

Keith Adams

The use of photos in archaeology is more than 100 years old. Most archaeologists combine photography and traditional drafting methods to record and interpret architecture, artifacts, and soil deposits uncovered while excavating. This includes both formal (publication quality photography) and less formal photography. The latter, less formal or candid photographs have been used to record the excavation process, creating a visual record of that which is destroyed in the process of extraction (while many archaeologists quip that “excavation is destruction”, our project director likes to say that “excavation is digitization”). Both kinds of photography continue to be used at Kaymakçı.

From the first day, however, excavations at Kaymakçı have also extended the use of photography to include the production of 3D models. These are made from composites or mosaics of photos rendered in 3 dimensions and oriented to a GPS-surveyed grid. These computer models display soil layers, artifacts and architectural features with a high degree of precision. The models record the processes and decision making of excavation accurately and allow the viewer to move back and forth in virtual excavation time and space in order to better understand the relationship between soil layers, walls, floors, etc.

Has all of this use of new technology and the use of new programs gone smoothly over the last few weeks, without a hitch? Absolutely not. There have been hitches! Have workflow and results gotten better with each day? Of course! The procedures are becoming commonplace and the glitches ironed out as they spring up.

As we have learned in the last few weeks, there is an art to doing science. As seen in the photos below, there is definitely a choreography to the photography. With luck, photography as science and the art it produces will enhance our presentation of archaeology to an increasingly visually oriented public.

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