Category: Digital


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



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


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


Excavations at Kaymakçı

The Kaymakçı Archaeological Project began in 2014 with aims of conducting excavations and related research activities at and around Kaymakçı, a Middle and Late Bronze Age site located overlooking the western shore of Lake Marmara. Kaymakçı consists of a fortified citadel as well as dispersed extramural settlement and other remains. It is the largest known site of its period in the Gediz River valley and must have been a significant regional capital. The excavation of Kaymakçı promises gains for both the scientific knowledge of second-millennium BCE central western Anatolia and its links to the Aegean and Anatolian worlds. Geophysical prospection, excavations, and conservation and restoration activities are revealing and preserving the site’s architecture while an international team of scholars and students study material and environmental evidence to shed light on the ancient communities of Kaymakçı and the world they inhabited.

The Site

The citadel of Kaymakçı is located on top of a ridge of mica-schist bedrock around 140 meters above the level of Lake Marmara. With its main occupational phase dating to the Middle and Late Bronze Age periods, Kaymakçı represents not only the largest of the six contemporary citadels in the Marmara Lake basin discovered in the course of the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (CLAS), but also, with its 8.6 ha enclosed space, the largest second-millennium BCE citadel in western Anatolia known to date. Based on both its archaeological evidence and the historical geography of western Anatolia as reconstructed from Hittite textual sources, Kaymakçı is one of the most likely candidates to be the capital of the LBA kingdom of the Seha River Land.

The first several years of excavations have focused on the three primary components of the citadel: the fortification system (areas 81.551 and 95.555); the inner citadel and surrounding slopes (areas 93.545, 97.541, and 98.531), and the southern terrace (areas 99.526 and 108.523/109.523). Based on identified ceramic and/or architectural phases, current understandings of the second-millennium BCE chronology of the citadel differentiate a limited occupation during the MBA (represented by ceramics alone at present) from more intensive phases of LBA occupation that are further divided into an earlier LB 1 phase (17th to 15th centuries BCE) and a later LB 2 phase (14th–13th centuries BCE). Limited ceramic collections may represent either terminal Late Bronze or very early Iron Age activities at the site, after which time it appears to have been thoroughly abandoned.

Ongoing excavations within and future excavations outside the citadel are hoped to shed more light on the mystery of Kaymakçı’s abandonment – induced from human-derived or environmental conditions or a combination of the two – and may illuminate also the full extent the site in extramural settlement and cemetery areas up the ridge, on the slopes of the ridge, and along the lakeshore.

Excavation Areas

This 9 x 9-meter excavation area is located along the fortification system in the northwestern-most part of the citadel. Excavations aiming to confirm geophysical results and explore the date and style of fortifications. Large bastion-like features with 2-meter wide walls, already visible in geophysical results, were built here in the local LB 2 phase, strengthening the fortifications in this otherwise vulnerable location.
Supervisors: K. Egerer (2014); E. Kaner (2019).

This L-shaped area consisting of a 9 x 29-meter rectangle and 9 x 9-meter addition, are located along the northern fortifications of the citadel. Excavations aimed to test geophysical results suggestive of a gate structure. Several phases of building and living activity are attested in the area, including the original construction of the 2-meter wide LB fortification wall and subsequent LB modifications, including several buildings and a possible gateway.
Supervisors: K. Egerer (2015); E. Kaner (2019).

This 19 x 19-meter excavation area is situated in the uppermost, almond-shaped terrace of the inner citadel of Kaymakçı. Excavations aiming to determine the date and function of this this most-protected space of the citadel have revealed its 1.5-meter wide circuit wall and a large, seemingly open space occupied by at least 16 semi-subterranean circular features. Built using a combination of cut bedrock and drywall techniques, these were likely used originally as grain silos or other storage facilities and were emptied and filled with secondary deposits over the course of the local LB 1 and LB 2 phases.
Supervisors: D. Plekov (2015, 2016); C. Scott (2015).

Excavation of this 19 x 19-meter area located on the lower, outer terrace of the inner citadel of Kaymakçı aims to explore the date and function of this area of the inner citadel and have revealed semi-subterranean storage features similar to those unearthed in other areas of the site, as well as at least three building complexes situated opposite a narrow corridor and open courtyard. The buildings are internally articulated into smaller rooms, some of which are paved with flagstones, and include installations such as ovens/hearths and large pithoi, or storage jars. Ceramics retrieved from stratified layers suggest a period of use spanning the local LB 1 and LB 2 phases.
Supervisors: H. Chastene (2015); C. Scott (2019).

This 9 x 9-meter area is located on the southern, lower slope of the inner citadel, near its junction with the southern terrace. Excavations aim to test geophysical results and explore the date and use of a large building complex. Excavations to date have revealed a roughly square space abutted by several smaller walled spaces probably used for storage purposes during the local LB 1 and LB 2 phases.
Supervisor: N. Susmann (2014).

This 9 x 9-meter area is located near the southwester edge of the Kaymakçı’s southern terrace. Aiming to elucidate geophysical results showing the clearly delineated walls of a building complex, excavations here were continued down to bedrock and represent the fullest LB sequence of activities recovered to date. Early LB 1 fills and other evidence suggest initial use for open-area activities. By the LB 1-2 transition, the area was built up with elongated buildings and continued to be used for mixed domestic, household industry, and storage purposes over several subphases.
Supervisors: A. Crowe (2014, 2015); C. Scott (2016); E. Kaner (2018).

Excavation of this 19 x 19-meter area located in center of Kaymakçı’s southern terrace aims to explore geophysical results suggestive of the area’s “urban” character, with streets and alleys dividing blocks of building complexes. Revealed at the southwestern corner of the area, a wide pebble-paved street appears to connect the outer fortifications with the inner citadel. Immediately northeast of and abutting the street are at least three long and rectilinear building complexes separated by narrow alleys. The occupational sequence is similar to that of 99.526: the earliest levels show traces of open-air activities and the following LB 2 phases are characterized by large architectural complexes of mixed domestic, household industry, and storage uses.
Supervisors: J. Mokrišová (2014, 2015); D. Alberghina (2018, 2019).

Survey in the Marmara Lake Basin

The Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (CLAS) was carried out between 2005 and 2014 with the main goal of investigating the long occupational histories of the region surrounding Lake Marmara. Through a combination of regional field survey and intensive site surveys, geophysical investigations, paleo-environmental studies, and the analysis of collected archaeological materials, this 10-year project played crucial roles in the identification of human activities in the region since the Paleolithic and in the reconstruction of settlement patterns from Neolithic through recent times. We view survey as dynamic and thus our survey motto is from prehistory to yesterday – a continual moving “end point” towards current and future research.

CLAS work started as a natural development of previous survey research conducted in 2001 in the area of greater Lydia, where we targeted the documentation of tumuli, or burial mounds, dating to the Lydian and Achaemenid periods. CLAS work began in 2005 with a pilot survey in Bin Tepe, the Lydian cemetery of a “thousand mounds” associated with Sardis, and quickly developed with the goal of exploring the diachronic history of a 400 square kilometer area of central Lydia surrounding Lake Marmara. Methodological approaches combined aerial and satellite reconnaissance and regional field survey with intensive site survey, material studies, and paleo-environmental investigation of the history of the lake itself. Through regional survey we identified and documented over 200 areas of ancient cultural activities, ranging in date from Paleolithic to recent times. Intensive surveys aimed to establish the extent, chronology, and, if possible, the function of targeted sites of more stable human activity, from quarries to occupation mounds.

Aerial and satellite reconnaissance and intensive site survey were integrated with microtopography and geophysical survey at Kaymakçı to explore subsurface remains beginning in 2007. Using a combination of methods, we were able to produce detailed surface and subsurface maps of Kaymakçı’s citadel and surrounding slopes, thus gaining a better understanding of the extent of outer and inner fortification walls and the presence of streets and architectural blocks even prior to the beginning of excavations.