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!

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 (2015-07-05)

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 (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.

BU Today

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 (2014-08-05)

“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 (2014-07-15)

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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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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