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 (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 (2014-07-08)

Excavation

Kyle Egerer

These three photos capture some of the main themes of working at Kaymakçı: Beauty, Technology and Cultural Exchange. Though periodically being rattled out of bed by the early call to prayer is not something everyone always enjoys, by the time we get up to the site in the morning, we’re rewarded with spectacular sunrises.  This one prefaced a day when the temperature reached 38° C – 100° F!

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There is more to archaeology than just diggin‘ around in the dirt. During this inaugural season we’ve introduced a number of new recording methods, including real time kinematic GPS recording of archaeological features and deposits. Doing this in combination with other photogrammetric recording allows us to document what we’re excavating more efficiently – and ultimately more effectively – in the field. In my excavation area, this helps us record the fortification wall.

Though technology plays a pivitol role in excavations at Kaymakçı, retrieving archaeological materials and evidence would not be possible at all without the cooperation of people from nearby villages.  Kahvaltı, or breakfast, out on site allows everyone to reenergize, hydrate, and share stories about life in Turkey. At times this half hour can get a bit silly, especially when we venture to see who can eat the hottest pepper or sharpest ezme – a hot pepper spread. No worries though, there’s always a nice çay and a belly laugh after every pepper!

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Mapping, Modeling, and Visualization

Manny Moss

Kaymakçı, the excavation team is developing a novel method of documenting the spatial relationships between artifacts, sediment, architecture and landscape. Traditionally, archaeologists document spatial relationships by drafting two dimensional plan maps with paper and pencil. This requires the excavator to turn to tape measures, plumb bombs, and line levels at every step of the excavation. At Kaymakçı, spatial relationships are documented with large sets of overlapping photographs that can be fed into powerful processing software in the lab to produce millimeter-accurate 3D models of each archaeologically significant element. These elements, combined with RTK-GPS data, can be used to produce a geospatially-referenced model of the entire site. My role has been to develop new tools that allow us to implement these modeling techniques as a comprehensive spatial documentation methodology. With these tools, the excavators have been able to record their work using cameras and tablets rather than pencil and paper.

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3D photographic composite of a storage vessel (above), rendered as a wire mesh (below)

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Soil Sampling

Catherine Scott

This week, we finished coring for soil samples in the southern portion of Kaymakçı.  Chemical analysis of the samples will help us locate where people cooked and made crafts from metals and other materials. Cores were taken in areas of active excavations and elsewhere. By leveraging detailed knowledge from excavated areas, we hope to extrapolate it across the entire site.

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