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 (2015-06-15)

End of the Geophysics Season

Kyle Egerer, Güzin Eren, and Dan Plekhov

Hoşçakal Geophysics, Merhaba Excavation! (“See you later Geophysics, Hello Excavation!”)

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From Kaymakçı we are able to see weather systems building above Bozdağ, only to descend towards Bin Tepe and the site…

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It’s difficult to say which way storms will go, but it’s easy to keep an eye on the weather when it presents views like this!

 

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… in the thick of things!

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Other than storm clouds, we also had frequent visitors of a different type!

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A happy geophysics team at the conclusion of the season!

Voices from the Field (2015-06-14)

Welcome to our new blog coordinators!

Emily Wilson, Nuray Yılmaz, Catherine Scott, and Jana Mokrišová

With a new season come new coordinators for Voices from the Field! Stay tuned for future updates from the Gygaia Projects.

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Emily Wilson (University of Chicago) is excited to be joining the (field) team here at Kaymakçı.

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Nuray Yılmaz (CUNY) is thrilled to be excavating in Turkey, her home country, for the first time.

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Catherine Scott (Boston University) is a four-year veteran of the project, but it is her first year as an area supervisor.

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Jana Mokrišová’s (University of Michigan) fourth year on the project will be dedicated to excavating and mudbrick studies.

Voices from the Field (2015-05-31)

We’re back for the 2015 season!

After a relatively-dormant winter, our first “voice” from the field season of 2015 comes from the geophysics team that has been working since mid-May at Kaymakçı, located in the western Turkish province of Manisa, on the shore of Lake Marmara (the ancient Gygaean Lake, for those who don’t remember!). Expect many more posts over the coming weeks and months. We hope you enjoy!

The Directors

A resumption of geophysical survey

Güzin Eren, Kyle Egerer, Manny Moss, Dan Plekhov

The 2015 season marks the fourth consecutive season of electrical resistance survey at the Late Bronze Age site of Kaymakçı. This year we are expanding our area of investigation to include previously unsurveyed parts of the site.

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For those unfamiliar with geophysics, the Gygaia Projects blog, or archaeology in general, “geophysics” refers to an aspect of the geosciences that concentrates on the characteristics and physical processes of the earth’s crust. Geophysical survey methods are used in archaeology to identify and isolate subterranean cultural remains. As a non-invasive, site-intensive survey method, resistance survey has proven particularly productive at Kaymakçı because of its local geological and natural conditions.

By introducing a weak electrical current into the ground between probes moved at set intervals along a zigzag pattern, the technique allows us to distinguish stone walls from other man-made and natural features with differing levels of resistance to the flow of electricity. So far this season we’ve successfully surveyed 50 survey grids – 2 hectares!

Until very soon,
the 2015 Kaymakçı Geophysics team!!

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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.

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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 (2014-12-03)

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 (2014-07-29)

Food!

One of the benefits of living in an agriculture-based village is being able to follow shifts in diet as the field season and cultural calendars progress. Such shifts remind us to think about how seasonal and cultural factors must always have played roles in ancient cuisines of this region, too.

A recent example comes from our daily dessert of fresh fruit. Although we have been eating karpuz (watermelon) and kavun (honeydew) all season long, the colors and flavors have intensified – much to everyone’s delight – as the growing season peaks. Patlıcan (eggplant), which also grows during the summer, appears in many of our main dishes. Its favorite version so far made an appearance at a recent mangal (bbq) held by the lake. It involved 12 eggplants roasted directly on hot coals until steaming and tender. They were then thrown into plastic bags where their skins were removed before the insides were mashed together with garlic in a bowl. Simple yet delicious, this patlıcan közlemesi (grilled eggplant mash) was the highlight of the meal.

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The past few weeks have also introduced first-timers in Turkey to some of the foods related to Ramadan (usually called Ramazan in Turkey), the Islamic holy month that involves fasting during daylight hours. A special product of this month is a traditional flatbread called ramazan pidesi: a disc-shaped loaf with a broad crosshatch pattern on the top, sprinkled with sesame seeds. The dense texture and saltier-than-usual flavor adds to its appeal.

The evening iftar (breaking of the fast after sundown) has taken a different form now that we are in the final week of Ramazan. The last two nights saw families in the village host public meals. Last night our team’s hosts sponsored the event in the school courtyard, serving çorba (soup), güveç (stew), cacık (a cold cucumber and yogurt soup), pilav (rice), and halva (a semolina-based dessert) to the entire village and their network of family and friends.

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Small Finds

Magda Pieniążek

In archaeological lingo, “small finds” are objects like spindle whorls, loom weights, weapons, jewelry, or various kinds of metal tools (and they need not be small!). They can be very important indicators of the intensity and direction of foreign contacts, of social relationships, and of local production both on the household level and in specialized workshops controlled by the elite.

Objects found so far at Kaymakçı reflect the residential and industrial character of the area: small metal tools confirm the production of fine objects, while decorated items of bone and bronze reflect elite consumption at the site. Numerous spindle whorls speak to intensive textile production, and their decoration reflects the creativity of the site’s inhabitants. Every day brings surprises and makes the work very exciting. Working with the “small finds” from Kaymakçı is like participating in the making of central western Anatolian culture of the second millennium BCE.

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Oral Histories (and some lithics)

Nedim Büyükyüksel

As the field season nears its end, our work both in the field and in the lab has begun to pick up speed. Alongside the large amounts of pottery unearthed at Kaymakçı, here in the lab we are also receiving and processing a significant amount of stone tools, referred to as lithics, that date primarily to the Bronze Age and later. After we photograph and catalogue each piece, we analyze their particular features to understand the type of tool and the use to which they were put.

In addition to the lithics, a substantial part of my time has been dedicated to the study of the more recent cultural and economic landscapes of the Marmara Lake basin. By way of oral histories and visual records collected through long discussions with local elders in Tekelioğlu and surrounding villages, we are tracing the sociocultural impact of economic and technological developments in the Gediz Valley over the last 150 years. Using Omeka Neatline software, we are creating an interactive, diachronic map of the Gediz River valley, allowing viewers to wade through the region’s recent past. These discussions allow us to understand the local effect of the region’s integration into the global scene and provide endless opportunities to drink excessive amounts of çay (tea)!

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Conservation

Sylvia Schweri

Toward the end of the 2014 season, the conservation staff is busy planning and executing work that will help prevent excavation areas from deteriorating over the next year. This week, conservators placed mortar caps and troughs on certain vulnerable locations along excavated masonry walls. We used a mortar consisting of lime, sand, and small amounts of local soil and cement, which performed well in previous off-site testing. By placing this mortar where we anticipate rain to run down slopes or pool in depressions, we hope to protect recently excavated architectural features from the erosion.

In addition to selective mortar capping, conservators are planning the end-of-season excavation area preservation plan, which involves sandbag berms around excavation areas, sandbag buttresses along architectural features, and an overall covering of geotextile. Geotextile is a synthetic, permeable fabric that allows moisture and air to circulate, while reducing potential disturbance and erosion to underlying features.

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