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 (2017-06-16)

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 (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 (2016-06-24)

Going 3D at Koç

Tunç Kaner

 

 

During my two years with the Kaymakçı Archeological Project (KAP), I have worked closely with Peter Cobb to develop a holistic recording system for ceramics from Kaymakçı. Related to this work, I have also recently begun to help with the 3D digital recording of ceramics from the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (CLAS), directed by Christina and Chris between 2005 and 2014.

I live and study in Izmir at Ege University, but I travelled to Istanbul a few times during the 2015–2016 academic year to work with the CLAS material in the Archaeology Lab at Koc University. I worked with Christina Luke and Chris Roosevelt in person, and Peter Cobb virtually, to train a team of MA and PhD students in 3D recording methods. I also set-up the project’s NextEngine 3D Scanner as well as photography and Pantone Capsure (Munsell) stations in the lab, where they will be set up again in the fall for the next academic year. The training took two weeks; later I monitored Koç students from Izmir and visited Istanbul again for intensive periods of work.

We are continuing the same procedures now in our field lab, where we are working with a larger team on classifying and documenting ceramics that have just been excavated.

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

Voices from the Field (2016-03-09)

The word is getting out! Gygaia Projects directors present on various aspects of the project

Christina Luke and Chris Roosevelt

Scholarly conversation takes place in many venues, one of which is through the presentation of new data and ideas at conferences and as part of lecture series. Such presentations offer an exciting opportunity to collaborate with and get feedback from colleagues around the world.

In mid-February, Christina Luke attended a terrific conference and workshop entitled: “New Approaches to Historic Landscapes.” Her presentation focused on the construction of "heritage and history" through the lens of sovereignty in the Gediz Valley. The title of her paper was "Deep Time: Cultural Landscapes from Antiquity to Modernism in the Gediz Valley, western Turkey”. Christina asked how "the right heritage" is often celebrated at the expense of other historical narratives. She argued that historical landscape analysis offers one way forward in understanding change over time. The sessions were supported by a British Academy Newton Fund Advanced Fellowship, and led by Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University (Turkey) and Newcastle University (UK). It is our hope to collaborate with various new colleagues to begin a historic landscape analysis of the Gediz Valley.

Photo Credit: Néhémie Strupler, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut

 

Chris Roosevelt recently spoke on two occasions about the ongoing work of Gygaia Projects. His first talk took place at the German Archaeological Institute as part of their ongoing lecture series. The title of his paper was “A Forgotten Capital in Late Bronze Age Central Western Anatolia: Kaymakçı in the Marmara Lake Basin.” Chris talked briefly about the results of the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey, which found a network of second-millennium BCE citadels around Lake Marmara, and presented some initial results of the ongoing excavations at Kaymakçı under the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project. His talk was well attended by members of the archaeological community in Istanbul.

At the Turkish Art and Culture Lecture Series of the Turkish Cultural Foundation, Chris’s talk “Archaeology, Technology, and Sustainability: Approaches to the Past in the Gediz Valley, Western Turkey” addressed the sustainability of archaeological practice and data. He discussed various non-invasive archaeological techniques, including aerial photography and remote sensing, and also explained the digital recording system of the project as a way of making it possible to "re-excavate" sites digitally. (See Chris’s open-source article with fellow project members Peter Cobb, Manny Moss, Brandon Olson, and Sinan Ünlüsoy, titled “Excavation is Destruction Digitization: Advances in Archaeological Practice” for more information on the latter topic!)

Photo Credit: Jana Mokrisova

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

Voices from the Field (2016-01-21)

Gygaia Projects Presents at the AIA conference in San Francisco

Dan Plekhov

I recently had the opportunity to travel to and present at the 117th annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, held in rainy San Francisco. These conferences are often quite overwhelming, with many wonderful sessions to attend and people to meet who are engaged in exciting new research. This year was no exception, and I was happy to present my work to other archaeologists working on similar projects and to compare methods and results.

The research I presented took the form of a poster, coauthored by me, Chris Roosevelt, and Christina Luke, titled “Assessment of Iron Age Lydian Tumulus Distributions through GIS-Based Spatial Analysis.” The underlying question of this research was to determine what features of the Bin Tepe landscape influenced the placement of the burial mounds, which appear to follow certain patterns and form clusters.

By combining various spatial datasets into a Geographic Information System (GIS), representing such features as Lake Marmara, the Gediz River, streams, water features, and contemporary archaeological materials, we were able to measure the distance between each tumulus and the nearest of these features to measure proximity. Additionally, using digital elevation models, we were able to measure the visibility from each of the mounds to other features on the landscape, such as Kaymakçı, the Lydian city of Sardis, the three most prominent mounds, and all other mounds. Altogether, these measurements give us a sense of how the tumuli relate to the landscape in respect to their placement.

(Here we see the distribution of elevation values for the tumuli (dashed red line) in contrast to the distribution expected from a random pattern (black line). The gray polygon represents a 95% confidence envelope around the random pattern, achieved through bootstrap resampling.)

 

While this is useful information, we were interested in determining which of these landscape features may actually have been considered by Lydians when they chose sites for the mounds. To test this, we generated a set of random points equal to the number of mounds within Bin Tepe (137), and we did this 100 times. For each simulation, we again measured all these variables to get a distribution of values that reflected a random pattern representative of the landscape. By comparing this distribution to those of our real tumuli, we were then able to determine where our pattern significantly departed from the pattern we would expect if the mounds were placed randomly.

We found that there was a notable subgroup of tumuli that showed a clear preference for ridges and that intervisibility between the mounds was significantly greater than what we would expect from a random pattern. This suggests that proximity and visibility to other mounds was more important than proximity to natural features such as Lake Marmara or the Gediz River.

 

We received great feedback on these methods and results, which will factor into further analysis of the mounds to be presented at the Society for American Archaeology conference in early April. Stay tuned for more results then!

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

Voices from the Field (2015-10-19)

Conservation Research at the University of Delaware

Remy Kneski and Adrienne Gendron

While working with KAP during the 2015 excavation season, Remy and Adrienne conducted research on conservation problems pertaining to material culture in archaeological settings. They are continuing to expand these research projects during the 2015–2016 academic year, after which their conclusions will be discussed in their senior theses.

Currently, Remy is working on aging of adhesives on a brick substrate. The four adhesives selected (Paraloid B-44, Paraloid B-72, Ground Hide Glue, and Derby) were naturally aged outside for 6 weeks over the summer and will be artificially aged this fall. The results of her research will determine which adhesive would be best for reconstruction of ceramics at an archaeological site in conditions of high temperature and relative humidity.

Adrienne is performing artificial aging on copper-alloy samples under different conditions to determine the effects of certain variables on their degradation. She hopes to obtain a more complete understanding of the chemical processes that cause degradation of copper-alloy (bronze) artifacts in situ in order to further characterize conservation concerns with metal artifacts excavated from Kaymakçi and propose effective solutions to ensure their long-term preservation.

In September, Remy and Adrienne also presented an outline of their summer experiences at KAP to the Art Conservation Freshmen Seminar at the University of Delaware. Because many art conservation students at the university have a wide range of interests in related fields, they spoke about the many components of fieldwork as well as their experiences performing conservation treatments on archaeological materials.

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

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.

20150621_133545

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.

 

ceramicsgroup

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.

tunc

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 (2015-05-31)

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.

P1140106 copy

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!!

P1140097 copy