Voices from the Field (2017-07-11)

Detailed Tasks: Sorting Bones in the Heavy Residue Fraction

Francesca Slim

Heavy residue analysis begins! This year the faunal team grew, and we have a wonderful workforce to get some work done this study season: Dr. C. Çakırlar, Francesca Slim, Jildou Kooistra, Madison Blumer, Conor Mead, and Elif Özsöy.

A large workforce to handle a lot of small bones: Jildou, Elif, Conor, and Madison.

This year the faunal team has begun the analysis of the heavy residues retrieved during flotation. After a long workflow involving collection of sediment samples by excavators and flotation, heavy residue collection, and sorting by the archaeobotany team, the bone material within the heavy residue samples ended up with the faunal team. Using a variety of tools, the heavy residue samples are laid out on trays, meticulously examined in bright daylight, and sorted into categories with small brushes and dental tools. We have been finding various taxa of not just the common domesticates, but also bones from amphibians, birds, fish, molluscs, and small mammals such as mice.

Francesca doing detailed analysis on the identifiable mammal bones from the heavy residue samples.

In these heavy residue samples, we find bones that do not usually appear in the hand-selected and dry-sieved samples. In addition to finding small animals, here and there we find small bones from very young animals, showing that even very young baby animals were kept at Kaymakçı. This means that the heavy residue samples are very complementary to the dataset, as a whole, and give us better insight into the full spectrum of domestic, wild, and commensal animals present at Kaymakçı in the past.


When we do the sorting, we also keep our eyes out for some specific bones that may be used for other types of analysis. For instance, we are hoping to find fish otoliths (a type of ear bone), which can be used in future isotope analysis. In this way, we collaborate not just between specialists, but also across many years of the project!

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

Voices from the Field (2017-07-09)

Photographing Finds

Christina Luke

It was a great pleasure to host expert photographer Niki Gail as part of the Kaymakçı team for four days. His good spirit with the various field conditions made the extreme (47 degrees) heat wave much more enjoyable. He worked closely with many team members to document small finds (pins, rings, tokens, spindle whorls, etc.) as well as bones, ceramics, and architectural materials in mudbrick. We were also able to spend a day at the Manisa Museum to document previous seasons of material stored in their collections. While the heat made that work challenging, the wonderful setting of the Ottoman era architecture creates a nice setting for work. 

Getting the right shot can be challenging!

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

Voices from the Field (2017-07-07)

Ebru in Tekelioğlu

Christina Luke

The first weekend in July brought ebru (marbling) artist Nedim Sönmez to Tekelioğlu. He offered ebru and papermaking workshops for the children of the village. Short lectures and videos covered the history of these crafts in Turkey, and then the students had many opportunities to try the crafts themselves.

Children were able to share ideas and approaches for two days. At the end of the workshops, they brought their art back to their families.


Nedim is the director of Ege University’s Paper and Book Arts Museum in Bornova, Izmir, as well as an established and well-known artist. This is his second workshop with our project.

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

Voices from the Field (2017-07-06)

Sweet Treats: Baking American Pies in Turkey for the Fourth of July

Emily Wilson and Caitlin O’Grady

The 4th of July means many things for Americans: the celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, barbeques, family and friends, and fireworks. For many Americans, it also means fruit pies, a dessert that is especially popular on this holiday. This year, we decided to make fruit pies for our annual 4th of July barbeque – a taste of the US while working in Turkey. But making these pies was not without its challenges.

Shopping - do you think we have enough ingredients?

So much butter!

Prepping cherries.

Making a lattice crust.

Our baking challenge.




Using the oven, which cooks only one pie at a time at a constant and unknown temperature, gave the bakers an even greater appreciation for the cooks who use it everyday to make our food!

One crust completed, 2 more to finish.

So many delicious pies! 

Ready for feasting!

The pies and crumble were safely transported down to the shores of Lake Marmara for the holiday barbeque. Without exception, they were proclaimed a delicious success!!!

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 (2017-06-15)

We are underway!

The 2017 season has begun at the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project! This year is a study season, so look forward to posts discussing our work to understand better the history of this amazing site! 


Project members taking a tour of the site. Photo credit: Jana Mokrisova.

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

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 (2016-07-23)

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!