Month: September 2020


Our approach to zooarchaeology, the study of ancient faunal remains, investigates the intimate relationships among humans, animals, and landscapes. From archival sources, such as Hittite texts and Ottoman records, we have a rich narrative of animal histories in this landscape. Researchers working with excavated contexts from Kaymakçı unpack the nature of domestication, wild, and exotic assemblages, such as pig, goat, sheep, cattle, plus rabbit, deer, fish, bird as well as large cats, a bear, and even one example of a massive mammal, likely a hippo or whale. In addition, researchers have explored the importance of the heritage of transhumance in the region, such as that of the Yörük as well as “people of the mountain.” We’re also very keen on the shifting patterns in foodways since the mid-20th century and the changes from the influx of globalization.

Affiliated team personnel

Canan Çakırlar, University of Groningen
Francesca Slim, University of Groningen
Şengül Fındıklar, Koç University


Volumetric (3D) Recording

A key innovation of the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project (KAP) in developing the KAP Recording System in 2014 was its process of recording archaeological excavation in volumetric, 3D detail. Adopting a digital photogrammetric approach that leveraged quickly advancing Structure from Motion (SfM) processing via Agisoft software, field methods intend to enable highly accurate spatial documentation of excavation units (“spatial contexts”) using only digital tools. This means that time-consuming positional measurements using tape measures, string levels, and the like—not to mention pencil and paper—are unnecessary while in the field, because they can be calculated on the fly and whenever necessary from the fully digitized record. Subsequent recombination of the top and bottom surfaces of each excavation unit into an encapsulated volumetric entity—a time-consuming process in itself—allows the visualization of the original archaeological record in all its volumetric detail, enabling its virtual reconfiguration and re-excavation, turning the well-known archaeological trope “excavation is destruction” into “excavation is digitization.”

Affiliated team personnel

Gary Nobles, Oxford Archaeology
Catherine Scott, Brandeis University


Small Finds

“Small finds” refer to a variety of generally “small” artifacts in diverse materials. Often studied according to narrow material classes, their functions have great potential for understanding different productive activities carried out in antiquity. Among these, textile production is represented well at Kaymakçı by numerous clay spindle whorls and loom weights, in addition to bronze needles. Perforated round sherds are also interpreted as weights of some sort, although some of them might have been used otherwise, as scrapers, for instance. Bone “gorgets” and bronze hooks represent fishing equipment likely used in the nearby lake. A wide variety of other bone, stone, and bronze tools (such as handles, awls, and chisels), together with personal ornaments, represent other common items in the collection of small finds from Kaymakçı.

Affiliated team personnel

Magda Pieniążek, Tübingen University
Caitlin O’Grady, University College London
Jana Mokrisová, Birkbeck College, University of London


Research Center Design

The research center, which among other activities hosts the archaeological mission working at the nearby site of Kaymakçı during the summer months, is located near the village of Hacıveliler in Gölmarmara, Manisa. Overlooking Lake Marmara, the complex consists of different buildings including dormitories, a kitchen and dining room, and work rooms and laboratories for various projects.
Designed by Tim Frank, the architecture of the center acts as one with the local setting. This “performance” approach to design allowed Tim to embrace the various elements of the site, especially the north summer wind and the warm morning sunlight, to maintain temperature. The overhangs and passageways between buildings and the tall ceilings allow for air to circulate with the afternoon and evening summer winds. During the fall through early spring, the glass windows capture the sunlight for passive heating. Tim tested each of his designs using computational fluid dynamics. In addition, he worked extensively with all team members to design personal, communal, and working spaces to meet the needs of an interdisciplinary team.

Affiliated team personnel

Tim Frank, Kennesaw State University


Ottoman Studies

Intensive “digging” into the Presidential Ottoman Archives and Robert College-Boğaziçi University Archives in Istanbul has proved to be extraordinarily interesting for the historical importance of Lake Marmara, the Gediz River, and early archaeology in the region (Bin Tepe and Sardis). Current archival research relates to the period between the late 16th and early 20th centuries. The Middle Gediz Valley is a rich territory for Ottoman narratives on climate change, agricultural production, wetland management, and property relations throughout the period under Ottoman rule. Waqfs (pious foundations) controlled major areas of the region. Princes residing in the palace of nearby Manisa from the 15th to the 17th century played major roles in the waqf management of agricultural land in the valley as well as of the waters and surrounding wetlands of Lake Marmara. Unique historical trajectories define land and lake basin management in the face of dramatic climatic shifts during the Little Ice Age. Current research focuses on the Halime Hatun waqf, which included major components of agricultural and lake resources (fishing, reeds, leeches, etc.). Revenue from taxes collected by the waqf funded the Halime Hatun complex in Gölmarmara, including a mosque, medrese, soup-kitchen, and hammam. These places are today part of Gölmarmara’s Ottoman heritage. The dynamic landscapes of the lake basin offer a hub for exploring the varying scales of global climate shifts among local, imperial, and inter-imperial actors.

In fact this research also gives us the opportunity to place this region firmly within the networks of 18th century Izmir, a major commercial port that connected the middle Gediz Valley to the wider world. This entry triggered increasing competition over land and lake management in the late 18th and thru the early 20th century. Here our work explores Ottoman and non-Ottoman merchants; tax-farmers who competed to gain access to revenues from Lake Marmara, the fertile land, and mines; Cossack refugees who settled in the region as early as the 1830s and made good use of their expertise of socio-ecological knowledge on wetland ecologies to compete with the predominantly Orthodox Greek fishing communities; and local ayan families like the Karaosmanoğlu, who held economic as well as political power in the region. While trying to access and control the resources in the valley, and especially of Lake Marmara, lake communities (intentionally as well as unintentionally) negotiated the micro-climate of the valley and the natural history of Lake Marmara within the context of changing climate and property relations, notably the Tanzimat shifts. This eventually resulted with the emergence of lake management policies.

Finally, another important and emerging part of our archival work focuses on the narratives of early archaeologists, from Bin Tepe to Sardis. We’re interested in their agendas, their engagement with modernity, their relationships with Ottoman officials, and the role of conservation and presentation in Turkey, from the late 18th through the mid-20th century.

Affiliated team personnel

Semih Çelik, Koç University



Within the various categories of small finds, metal objects play a fundamental role in the reconstruction of everyday practices, craft activities, technological skills, and stylistic choices in ancient cultures. At Kaymakçı, as elsewhere across Anatolia in the second millennium BCE, the metal corpus includes mainly lead and copper-alloyed artifacts, ranging from tools to personal ornaments and weaponry. The abundant presence of small tools such as chisels, awls, and needles testifies to the richness and variety of specialized on-site activities, such as textile production. Stylistic elements of both utilitarian and more prestigious items show a combination of local elements as well as influences from Anatolian and Aegean cultural spheres.

All metal finds from Kaymakçı are typologically examined and categorized to trace differences and similarities with the same categories of artifacts from contemporary sites in other regions. In addition, archaeometric methods of analysis (pXRF, SEM-EDXRF, LIA, etc.) are applied to examine the elemental composition, microstructure, and isotopic signature of metal objects to better understand the technological skills, manufacturing choices, and routes of raw material procurement behind their making.

Affiliated team personnel

Dalila Alberghina, Koç University
Caitlin O’Grady, University College London
Magda Pieniążek, Tübingen University