Author: wpadgy

Voices From the Field (2021-06-01)

A Stormy Season Start!

Gygaia Projects

The 2021 season of the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project started with some seriously stormy weather! A small team is here to work under strict pandemic precautions on excavations along Kaymakçı’s fortification system, site cleaning and maintenance, intensive material study, and the continuation of our multi-year depot re-inventorying project.

Soon after our arrival, we braced to receive a storm approaching from across the valley.

Storms approaching from the east are thought to be more turbulent than those coming from other directions!

When it hit, our visibility was reduced to the surrounding hillslopes, and our roofs, gutters, and downspouts were put to the test.The lake basin, obscured by the storm. Our rain chains, focusing the flow of gutter water to where we want it to go.

As the storm moved on, we were treated to the pleasant patter of drips on railings and a full-arch rainbow. Harbingers of good things to come this season, we hope!The patter of post-storm drips.

The rare treat of a full-arch rainbow!

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects soon!

Voices From the Field (2021-06-08)

The Northern Fortifications

Gygaia Projects

As things dried out over our first week, excavation area 95.555 was re-opened and cleaned in preparation for excavations under the supervision of Ebru Kaner, who is working on a PhD dissertation on related subjects.

Students and vocational staff cleaning the area after the removal of protective coverings.

The aims of Ebru’s excavations this year include recovering evidence for the phases and functions of the fortifications and other architecture in the area. At some point in its Late Bronze Age history, the single c. 1.5 m-wide curtain wall (seen curving along the top of the excavation area in the view below) was cut through, tower-like features were added, and other buildings were built seemingly on top of it. Was there a gate here? Were the other buildings defensive in nature, domestic spaces perched on the edge of the citadel, a combination of both, or something else entirely? These are some of the questions we hope to explore (if not answer) this season.

An oblique aerial view of excavation area 95.555 to the south-southeast. Note the curving trace of the fortification wall near the top (southern) edge of the area and the architecture cutting through and built over it.
In this view to the east, terrace walls on the northern slope below the fortifications are being exposed. Were these associated with a gate, some sort of access route, or something else?
Ebru and the team documenting, sectioning, and preparing to block-lift a mysterious, small clay-lined pit located just inside the fortifications. Along with a hearth and other features typical to domestic structures, discovery of this kind of feature begs questions about the multiple functions (that is, not just defensive) served by the fortification walls and associated spaces at Kaymakçı.

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects soon!

Voices From the Field (2021-06-15)

Sights & Sounds, Fauna & Flora

Gygaia Projects

Living on the slopes of the Kaymakçı ridge brings new sights and sounds of the local fauna and flora each day. The morning birds help us rise early before sunrise for fieldwork. Typically, these may include a chorus of Common (or Eurasian) Blackbirds (Turdus merula), House Sparrows (Passer domesticus), and a variety of other birds we haven’t yet identified.A chorus of morning birds. Once the sun’s risen, the woodpeckers often come knocking.

This year’s most distinctive identification so far was the rarely glimpsed but loudly heard Eurasian Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus), whose Latin name meaning something like “Goat Sucker” hints at the nature of ancient legends about its nocturnal activities.The Nightjar flies, feeds on insects, and sings by night, with an eerie effect.

Among other nightlife heard in our environs are herds of sheep and goat, whose ruminant activities keep groundcover well shorn, resulting in the pastoral landscapes so distinctive to this region.Sheep and their bells, kept in line by a canine shepherd. Goat bells. Can you tell the difference from the sheep bells?

After breakfast (and required quantities of coffee or tea!), a walk to the excavation area reveals some of the perennial and seasonal vegetation. A by-no-means scientific nor exhaustive exploration shows that most trees on the Kaymakçı ridge belong to one of three or four primary species: evergreen (Kermes or Holm?) oak (Quercus sp., coccifera or İlex?) and deciduous (Valonia) oak (Quercus ithaburensis subsp. macrolepsis), as well as wild pear (Pyrus sp., communis or amygdaliformis?) and wild almond (Amygdalus sp., likely orientalis).

Kermes or Holm (?) oak

Increasingly common to see in the local pear trees are parasitic blooms of common mistletoe (Viscum album), which appear to sap too many nutrients from some samples, ultimately killing them.

Wild pear tree with mistletoe bloom at upper left

Rarer but still common on the ridge is also Christ’s Thorn (Paliurus spina-christi), and the higher one goes up the ridge to the northwest, the more one encounters pine (Pinus sp.).

Christ’s Thorn

After the annual blooming, dying, and drying cycle of the ubiquitous asphodel (Asphodelus aestivus; Turkish or Summer Asphodel; see our post from 2 April 2021), typical groundcover between the trees on the Kaymakçı ridge includes a variety of grasses and anything the sheep and goats leave behind. This includes a pretty, yellow-flowered weed that is just coming into bloom now.

Mullein (Verbascum sp.?)

Distinctively less welcoming is a variety of beautiful but spiny, spiky, and thorny plants that encourage the wearing of pants, thick socks, and strong-sided shoes!

(Scotch cotton?) thistle (Onopordum sp.)

For the ancient fauna and flora of Kaymakçı and environs, see our recent posts about articles on agricultural and agropastoral systems in the area or our publication page.

How did this happen?

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects soon!

Voices From the Field (2021-07-06)

Changing of the Guard

Gygaia Projects

We are just about to conclude the first part of the 2021 season. All team efforts so far have focused on supporting the ongoing excavations along the fortification wall and associated material processing, especially of ceramics, of which large quantities were recovered this year.

Ongoing COVID precautions mean that only a limited number of team members can live and work with us at one time this year. With the ongoing depot inventory work, as well as needed ceramic, lithic, ground stone, metal, environmental archaeological, and other analyses beginning, we will usher in almost entirely new group of specialists and students. In the meantime, we bid fond farewell and profuse thanks to those who worked with us until now!

Our “June Excavation” team, with and (very briefly!) without masks
Our “June Excavation” team, with and (very briefly!) without masks

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects soon!

Voices From the Field (2021-07-13)

Two New Publications on Digital Archaeology at Kaymakçı

Gygaia Projects

We are pleased to share news that two new publications on digital archaeology at Kaymakçı have just appeared in Open Archaeology. See below for details!

Born-Digital Logistics: Impacts of 3D Recording on Archaeological Workflow, Training, and Interpretation

Catherine B. Scott, Christopher H. Roosevelt, Gary R. Nobles, and Christina Luke

Abstract: Digital technologies have been at the heart of fieldwork at the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project (KAP) since its beginning in 2014. All data on this excavation are born-digital, from textual, photographic, and videographic descriptions of contexts and objects in a database and excavation journals to 2D plans and profiles as well as 3D volumetric recording of contexts. The integration of structure from motion (SfM) modeling and its various products has had an especially strong impact on how project participants interact with the archaeological record during and after excavation. While this technology opens up many new possibilities for data recording, analysis, and presentation, it can also present challenges when the requirements of the recording system come into conflict with an archaeologist’s training and experience. Here, we consider the benefits and costs of KAP’s volumetric recording system. We explore the ways that recording protocols for image-based modeling change how archaeologists see and manage excavation areas and how the products of this recording system are revolutionizing our interaction with the (digital) archaeological record. We also share some preliminary plans for how we intend to expand this work in the future.

Filling the Void in Archaeological Excavations: 2D Point Clouds to 3D Volumes

Gary R. Nobles and Christopher H. Roosevelt

Abstract: 3D data captured from archaeological excavations are frequently left to speak for themselves. 3D models of objects are uploaded to online viewing platforms, the tops or bottoms of surfaces are visualised in 2.5D, or both are reduced to 2D representations. Representations of excavation units, in particular, often remain incompletely processed as raw surface outputs, unable to be considered individual entities that represent the individual, volumetric units of excavation. Visualisations of such surfaces, whether as point clouds or meshes, are commonly viewed as an end result in and of themselves, when they could be considered the beginning of a fully volumetric way of recording and understanding the 3D archaeological record. In describing the creation of an archaeologically focused recording routine and a 3D-focused data processing workflow, this article provides the means to fill the void between excavation-unit surfaces, thereby producing an individual volumetric entity that corresponds to each excavation unit. Drawing on datasets from the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project (KAP) in western Turkey, the article shows the potential for programmatic creation of volumetric contextual units from 2D point cloud datasets, opening a world of possibilities and challenges for the development of a truly 3D archaeological practice.

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects soon!

Voices From the Field (2021-07-20)

That’s a Wrap!

Gygaia Projects

A productive period of excavations on the edge of Kaymakçı’s citadel provided new evidence for the configuration and phasing of fortification architecture and subsequent buildings. Area 95.555 has now been “wrapped” in a layer of geotextile so its features can withstand the region’s sometimes intense winter storms. Cinderblock-like briquettes line the edge of the trench to hold the geotextile in place and obstruct surface water flow. Protective fencing and cautionary signage keep all visitors out, whether two or four legged.

Thanks to years of coaching from our head conservator Dr. Caitlin O’Grady (UCL), our team knows the process well and was able not only to wrap up area 95.555 quickly but also to re-wrap all other areas that needed renewed protections. Some steps in the process can be seen below.

First come the materials: rolls of geotextile and a light version of cinderblocks (“bimsblok”), both sourced locally from Uşak and Salihli, are delivered to the area in our trusty pickup.

Sheets of geotextile are unrolled over the area and custom cut to hug all surfaces, vertical and horizontal.

Unworked field stones found loose on the ground or recovered from excavation areas are repurposed to secure the geotextile in place. Stones are distributed evenly across the area by hand and well-coordinated teamwork.

Fencing stakes are hammered into the ground at regular intervals, and guide wires and chicken-wire fencing are stretched and secured in place.

The final result is a gleaming white excavation area, wrapped like a birthday present to be opened again in future seasons!

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects soon!