Category: Material Science

Material Science


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


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



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



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.

The conservation team is also responsible for analysis and interpretation of finds using a range of chemical and instrumental techniques to aid archaeological excavation decisions made in the field. Current research projects include reviewing the stability of conservation treatment protocols used in the field and laboratory, as well as investigations into low temperature material processing and ceramic manufacturing technologies at Kaymakçı. These collaborative research projects facilitate more nuanced understanding of finds and their preservation, as well as how they relate to site chronology, geospatial organization, and site diagenesis.

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