CLAS is currently updating its approach to heritage management. The guiding framework, in keeping with the CLAS research plan, is the place of heritage in living landscapes. CLAS focuses on the documentation and condition of archaeological, historical and ecological sites of interest; oral histories and ethnography of contemporary perspectives on heritage; contemporary legal restrictions and policies that impact stakeholders (archaeologists, farmers, developers); and linkages with nearby centers of heritage (Salihli, Sardis, Golmarmara, Kula, Usak, Manisa and Izmir), including local chambers of commerce, tourism groups, and government agencies.
At this time CLAS has recorded the condition of hunderds of archaeological sites from the Paleolithic to the early modern period. CLAS explores the condition of tumuli and changes to the landscape using declassified aerial imagery (1949, 1994, 1995) and a 2006 Quickbird image as well as during pedestrian survey. There are over 140 tumuli of the Lydian and Achaemenid periods, at least 116 still standing in Bin Tepe; other ancient and early modern cemeteries; several large and fortified citadels of the Middle and Late Bronze Age, including Kaymakçı, the probable capital of the region during these times; and numerous small sites of various periods representing small villages or hamlets that ring the Gygaean Lake. In addition, CLAS records architectural remains using an RTK GPS system and photo rectification of facades.
CLAS is working towards developing a comprehensive heritage management plan for the area. It is our belief that management of the ancient and natural landscapes of Bin Tepe, as well as of other environs around the Gygaean Lake, must be holistic. A management plan should consider that these are dynamic landscapes that cannot be sealed with fences and gates alone; populations live and work throughout the area today among its many archaeological sites.
Included among the modern features of the study area are its many agricultural villages (and their communities): in and around Bin Tepe are Kendirlik, Tekelioğlu, Karayahşi, and Pazarköy (of Salihli), and Dibekdere and Kestelli (of Ahmetli); elsewhere around the lake and in the study area are Hacıveliler, Beyler, Kılcanlar, and Yeniköy (of Gölmarmara), Kargın, Derici, and Mandallı (of Ahmetli), and Kemerdamları, Poyrazdamları, Çökelek, and Emirhacılı (of Salihli). Just outside the study area lie several district centers (Gölmarmara, Ahmetli, and Salihli) as well as at least five Jandarma offices (Gölmarmara, Ahmetli, Sart, Salihli, and Poyrazdamları). Any successful proposal will need to vest a sense of responsibility for, if not pride in, the ancient landscape with the closest village and/or district center.
CLAS plans to continue to work on a variety of management plan proposals, to meet with key community members interested in heritage management, and to discuss with Ministry representatives how best to thwart the ongoing destruction of the ancient landscape in central Lydia. At the current rate of destruction, this ancient landscape will be completely lost within several decades. Bin Tepe is the largest tumulus cemetery in all of Anatolia and among the most famous in the world and some sort of policy aimed a sustainable management is needed. The same can be said about the general environs of the Gygaean Lake, where the juxtaposition of monuments of both natural and cultural heritage value should be preserved for future generations. Furthermore, it is the historical Milne Line of the Turkish War of Independence as well as the region that saw major settlement changes from 1920-1980 with the abandonment of many villages and the settlement of new villages. And, several villages in the area now focus on sustainable living, promoted through organic agricultural programs.