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
On October 30th I presented on “Gygaia Projects: the Kaymakci Archaeological Project (KAP)” at the University of Delaware.
“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).
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
Mapping, Modeling, and Visualization
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.
3D photographic composite of a storage vessel (above), rendered as a wire mesh (below)
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.