Category: Voices

Voices From the Field (2021-04-30)

Presentations at the Online 15th International ANAMED Annual Symposium (IAAS)

Gygaia Projects

We’re back again with another presentation at the 15th IAAS, Winds of Change: Environment and Society in Anatolia. This one brought out a new area of research that focuses on climate change, wetland management, and voices from the Ottoman archives. We’re very excited about this ongoing work. See below for more details!

Of Wetlands and Reclamation Regimes: Climate Change, Social Upheaval and Political Practice in Western Anatolia in the Long Nineteenth Century

Semih Çelik and Christina Luke

Abstract: Recently, Ottoman waterscapes have garnered attention, and there has been a revived interest in local and regional studies. A growing corpus of Ottoman environmental histories focus on waterscapes as part of social, political, and economic transformations of the economic and natural landscapes of the empire. Despite this interest, wetlands have been understood and discussed as empty, malarial, putrid, and unproductive spaces, often dominated by nomadic tribes and transhumant communities. In part this perspective has been cultivated by historians who celebrated late Ottoman efforts to desiccate and reclaim wetlands. In this chapter, we scrutinize evidence that late-nineteenth-century wetlands were in fact resilient ecosystems with unique micro-ecological characteristics and with major actors who were active in the transformation of these social, economic, and ecologic systems. To do so, three wetland areas from western Anatolia were chosen, each of which tells a unique, but interconnected story. Seemingly small in spatial scale, these wetlands were connected to a much larger world of villagers, merchants, bureaucrats, administrators, entrepreneurs, and even imperial and trans-imperial institutions that defined much of western Anatolia. These resilient micro-ecologies also supported significant macro-climate patterns that in turn balanced patterns of migratory birds and animals, including transhumant lifeways. We argue that the quest to control wetlands as well as to move towards capitalist modes of production in late-nineteenth-century western Anatolia pivoted on competition and conflict among various actors with different interests, rather than a monolithic group of entrepreneurs solely in pursuit of profits through agricultural production and destruction of wetlands. We illustrate that negotiations reached across multiple scales and in turn influenced how specific actors came to understand natural history and the importance of integrating policy and human manipulation of ecosystems. Finally, we set each of these narratives within the significant and shifting climate changes that took place in the mid- to late nineteenth century

Considerations of Ottoman wetlands
Modernity arrives at Cellad (or Cellat) Lake
18th & 19th century wetlands in the Marmara Lake Basin
Late 19th and early 20th century conservation efforts

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Voices From the Field (2021-05-09)

A Presentation on Pigs at the TAG-TURKEY 2021 Online Symposium

Gygaia Projects

More good news! It has been a very busy month for presentations. Francesca G. Slim, Canan Çakırlar, and Christina Luke presented Human-Pig Interactions and Group Identities in The Late Bronze Age Aegean and Anatolia at the Third Meeting of the Theoretical Archaeology Group-Turkey (TAG-TURKEY 2021).

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Voices From the Field (2021-05-15)

A New Publication on Agropastoral Economies and Land Use in Environmental Archaeology

Gygaia Projects

We are pleased to share news that a new publication on agropastoral economies and land use at Kaymakçı and environs has just appeared in Environmental Archaeology (the Journal of Human Palaeoecology). See below for details!

Agropastoral Economies and Land Use in Bronze Age Western Anatolia

John M. Marston, Canan Çakırlar, Christina Luke, Peter Kováčik, Francesca G. Slim, Nami Shin, and Christopher H. Roosevelt

Abstract: The Middle and Late Bronze Ages of western Anatolia (modern Turkey) remains poorly understood in comparison with its Mycenaean and Hittite neighbours, especially in agricultural economies and land use. Kaymakçı is the largest Middle and Late Bronze Age citadel excavated to date in western Anatolia and new archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological data from the site presented here shed new light on regional agricultural economies and land use. Agricultural practices at Kaymakçı focused on barley and bitter vetch farming and pig, caprine, and cattle husbandry within a diverse and extensive economic system that made substantial use of wild plants and animals for food, technology, and fuel. Goats and pigs were managed primarily for meat, while sheep and cattle were managed to produce a range of secondary products. Wood charcoal analysis reconstructs both deciduous and evergreen oak woodlands, which also dominate the contemporary landscape. In regional perspective, Kaymakçı is most similar to the northern Aegean agricultural tradition, but with elements of Anatolian practices as well, representing a hybrid position between the Aegean and Anatolian worlds as seen in other lines of archaeological evidence from the site.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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