Voices From the Field (2021-06-29)

Lake Desiccation or an Anticipated, Annual Retreat?

Gygaia Projects

With concerns mounting over climate change, the vantage point of our daily lives puts this reality front and center in our minds. We awake each day to the sun rising over the mountains that flank the northern shores of Lake Marmara. And… each day the shoreline grows. We know from the Ottoman records that this pulse lake – known by ancient authors as the Gygaean Lake or Lake Coloë – has been ebbing and flowing for centuries.

1750 Map by Giovanni Battista Borra (Yale University)

Giovanni Battista Borra’s 1750 map (now at Yale University) demonstrates the performance of this body of water. With rising temperatures and other pressures, is this a serious turning point? Or will annual rains, perennial springs, and the modern infrastructure work together to refill the lake basin come winter 2021? How might a more nuanced reading of Ottoman records and archaeological assemblages inform our thinking of this performance landscape? Be sure to follow our continuing posts and forthcoming publications.

Early morning images show the retreating shorelines and the “two lakes” mapped around 1750, with Kaymakçı in the right foreground of both images
These images taken at different times of day show seasonal agricultural fields that grow in size along the retreating lakeshore as well as vegetal growth on the water surface taking advantage of the extremely shallow depths
Will lake levels soon return to those seen here in summer 2019? We know at least the local birds and birdwatchers hope so!

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects soon!