BU Archaeologists Explore Turkey, and Blog About It

July 17th, 2014

Team sends timely reports from the Gygaia Projects

Boston University BU, College of Arts and Sciences CAS, Archaeology site dig, Turkey, blog

The team is using real time kinematic GPS recordings of archaeological features and deposits, writes team member Kyle Egerer in his latest blog post. This data “allows us to document what we’re excavating more efficiently—and ultimately more effectively—in the field,” Egerer says. “In my excavation area, this helps us record the fortification wall.” Photo courtesy of Christina Luke

This summer, a team led by two Boston University archaeology professors has been working hard on an archaeological dig in Turkey, and when they’re not digging, they are blogging about digging. The Gygaia Projects—codirected by Christina Luke, a College of Arts & Sciences senior lecturer in the writing program and the archaeology department, and Chris Roosevelt, a CAS associate professor of archaeology—is trying to preserve the ancestral cultures and natural environments of the Marmara Lake basin, an area in western Turkey that was used as a resort area during the Bronze Age.

The Gygaia Projects consists of scientific field research and education programs for local residents about archaeology, the environment, and the local community. The project’s ultimate aim is to foster long-term US-Turkish cultural interactions.

The Gygaia Projects has two archaeology arms—the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project (KAP), which began this summer, and the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (CLAS), which Roosevelt and Luke have codirected since 2005.

This summer’s blog has focused on the new Kaymakçı Archaeological Project, where the group is working on noninvasive remote sensing, geophysical investigations, and excavations at the largest known Middle and Late Bronze Age fortified citadel in western Anatolia, says Roosevelt in an email from the field.

“In short, our primary goal is to understand the geopolitical, economic, ritual, and social significance of the site and its communities in the context of its neighboring Hittite and Mycenaean cultures,” Roosevelt writes. “In order to excavate in Turkey, the plan had to be reviewed by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and then earn cabinet-level governmental approval. Applications must include a minimum of a 10-year plan of research and heritage management.”

When they’re not out in the field, team members take turns writing about their summer explorations on the Gygaia Projects blog. Alice Crowe (CAS’14) works as an excavation area supervisor on the project. Her job involves processing finds in the lab, recording and directing part of the excavation, interpreting the uncovered material and, yes, digging.

On the fifth week of the dig, Crowe wrote: “The excavation areas are getting deeper, the workload ever increasing, and the Turkish-English barriers slowly melting…. Members of the project who work primarily on pottery, bones, and botanical remains rotate through the field twice a week to bring fresh perspectives to the excavated material. While I get help from these members on a rotating basis, I share the workload with members of local communities every day, who kindly put up with my çok kötü (very bad) Turkish and bring me delicious homegrown fruit.”

The Gygaia Projects is partly funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The excavation began in June and will wrap for the summer in August.

– Author, Amy Laskowski. To read more entries from the blog, click here.