Month: September 2020


When the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (CLAS) began, the backbone of the research focused first and foremost on the concept of landscape – a holistic vision of place-making by those inhabiting this region. Change over time, from conceptual understandings to the physical transformation of the landscape, has resulted in shifting ideas for how communities referred to concepts of home and territory. From settled communities to transhumance, rich narratives of the ebbing and flowing of human heritage define this region. From the forests and lakes of the Bozdağ Mountain range, the vast Gediz River plain, the various rivers (Gediz and Alaşehir), the extensive Lake Marmara, and the uplands of the western and northern mountain ranges, our holistic interest continues to be the layers of legacies embodied across these landscapes.

Affiliated team personnel

Christina Luke, Koç University
Chris Roosevelt, Koç University


DNA: Ancient and Sediment DNA Studies

The scope of ancient DNA studies aims to study genetic characterizations of archaeobotanical material recovered from excavations at Kaymakçı and sediments taken from cores covering the Marmara Lake basin, nearby ridges and uplands, and the Gediz plain. The goal is to assess genetic changes that have occurred over time, often due to domestication, from prehistory to yesterday.

The main goals of the Ancient (aDNA) and Sediment DNA (sedaDNA) research group are as follows: i) to obtain high quality ancient DNA for use in genomic studies, we work with carbonized seeds (e.g., wheat, barley, chickpea, bitter vetch, and grape) retrieved from controlled excavations; ii) to screen agronomically important gene regions for evolutionary changes and the agronomic character of the ancient DNA of agricultural plants and to compare these with their contemporary relatives, this work aims to uncover changes in specific crop plants, notably genetic variation from ancient species to the present; this information will shed light on future agricultural activities; iii) obtaining information about the agricultural and vegetational history of the region through genetic analysis of sedaDNA extracted from a series of strategically placed sediment cores across the Marmara Lake Basin and the Gediz plain, our goal is to examine the population dynamics of existing plants and thus to generate information that can answer important questions on past and present breeding processes of specific crops.

Affiliated team personnel

Zeki Kaya, Middle Eastern Technical University
Asiye Çiftçi, Middle Eastern Technical University
Funda Özdemir Değirmenci, Middle Eastern Technical University
Çiğdem Kansu, Tekirdağ Namık Kemal University


Digital Recording & Database

From the beginning of survey work in 2005 to present excavation work, we have always strived to remain at the forefront of developing, cutting-edge technologies that can transform the ways archaeology is practiced and the archaeological record is interpreted and presented. Efforts began during survey work with handheld GNSS, digital photography, Geographic Information Systems, and database integrations, and subsequently transitioned to “paperless” solutions, including tablet recording of field data, whether from pedestrian field survey, geophysical survey, or excavation.
In 2014, we continued this work with the debut of a holistic digital recording solution for Kaymakçı: the KAP Recording System. Leveraging the connectivity provided by a solar-powered point-to-point network spanning several kilometers, a centralized PostgreSQL database stores data input via a combination of MS Access forms, bespoke Android apps for field and laboratory photography, and GNSS equipment. While the hardware and software that supports the system has been updated and modified slightly over the years, the primary architecture of the system endures, providing the foundation for the integrated workflows that define our teamwork.

Affiliated team personnel

Gary Nobles, Oxford Archaeology
Catherine Scott, Brandeis University
Tunç Kaner, Koç University



Current conservation efforts at Kaymakçı focus on site-level support for excavations at Kaymakçı and the processing, stabilization, and curation of archaeological materials. An ongoing training program pairs an expert conservator with students. Working with primary data, the conservation team focuses on stabilization of materials, from metals and glass to ceramics and pigments. A conservation laboratory at the research center allows for primary treatment of study materials prior to storage and transfer to the regional Manisa Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography. In addition, the conservation team oversees the excavation process, consulting as necessary when fragile or unique contexts require especially careful extraction. The conservation team also manages the closing of excavation areas with protective coverings (geotextile) at the end of each season as well as their opening at the beginning of subsequent seasons.

Affiliated team personnel

Caitlin O’Grady, University College London



Pottery fragments represent the most conspicuous category of archaeological materials found both on the surface and within the buried layers of archaeological sites. From the CLAS dataset, our project has been working to establish the first broad-scale typology for the region. Of course, detailed excavations at Kaymakçı and at nearby Sardis, provide “anchors” that allow us to refine specific windows of time. So far the chronology from Kaymakçı has yielded a rich repertoire of pottery, with the best-documented categories being ware types representative of the mid and late second-millennium BCE ceramic horizon of the region. In particular, Red-Light Brown (RLB), Gray, and Red-and-Brown Coarse (RBC) wares constitute the major groups of the Kaymakçı pottery assemblage.

Past ceramic analyses focused on studies of production over time. Here our researchers explored the chemical fingerprints from neutron activation analysis of ceramics to demonstrate likely shifts in workshop organization. As we might expect, during periods of low occupation and rural hamlets, production was decentralized; yet during periods of urbanization, production was far more centralized.

Future studies are focusing on identity and performance, as indicated by surface treatment. Of special interest is the local gold and silver wash as well as painted wares of the second-millennium BCE indicative of foreign connections. In addition, researchers are engaged in new technologies of documentation and analysis, from 3D scanning and laser profiling to thin-section petrography, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), x-ray florescence (XRF), and Raman spectroscopy.

Affiliated team personnel

Peter Pavúk, Charles University
Tunç Kaner, Koç University
Peter Demján, Charles University



Our approach to archaeobotany, the study of ancient botanical remains, explores how communities engage with their surroundings. We explore what people ate as well as the crops they cultivated to feed their animals. Experts also explore ancient texts for discussions of agricultural strategies and foodways as well as the role of wild and cultivated plants in past and contemporary medicinal practices and gardens. We use these datasets to reconstruct past environments. From excavations at Kaymakçı sediment samples from all contexts—fills, floors, or hearths, for example—are “floated” to retrieve (usually charred) botanical remains, which are then identified in a laboratory. Other analyses, such as stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotopes and the extraction and amplification of ancient DNA, are then conducted. Sustainable practices for our research team include eating locally as much as possible, which includes a rich array of seasonal vegetables and fruits, as well as a hearty amount of olive oil from the trees at the research center. We also have a developing component of onsite gardens and orchards.

Affiliated team personnel
Nami Shin, Koç University and Tübingen University
John M. Marston, Boston University