Archaeology of Turkey:
State of the Field 2012

keynote: Çiğdem Atakuman

“A local’s account of the cultures of archaeology in Turkey”


(see below for details)

  • Sonya Atalay
  • Christopher Lightfoot
  • Christina Luke
  • Tim Matney
  • Christopher Ratté
  • Scott Redford
  • Christopher Roosevelt
  • Brian Rose
  • Sharon Steadman
  • Lucienne Thys-Senocak


Sonya Atalay, IU Bloomington
I’m interested in finding ways of doing archaeology in full partnership with indigenous and local communities – including all aspects of the archaeological process, from development of research designs to grant writing, ethics and IRB review, fieldwork, analysis and dissemination of results. The desire to involve communities in the process of investigating, managing and protecting their own heritage led me to compare various forms of community based and participatory research (CBPR) methods. My first book ‘Community-based Archaeology: Research with, by and for Indigenous and Local Communities’ includes research from five community-based archaeology projects I conducted, one of which is at Çatalhöyük, Turkey. I’ve also published several articles about the community-based research I’ve conducted in Turkey. Currently, I’m involved in a partnership with local residents in the village of Küçükköy (near Çatalhöyük) to develop an archaeological community theatre project funded by the E. U. This is part of a larger study I’ve just initiated on archaeological knowledge mobilization.

Research interests: community-based participatory research in archaeology, postcoloniality and archaeology, archaeo-tourism and development, intellectual property issues in cultural heritage, food studies, cooking technologies

Possible directions their comments might take: I’m very interested in considering the complex challenges and possibilities that we can expect in Turkey over the next quarter century, particularly with regard to the intersection of archaeological research, archaeo-tourism, and collaborative heritage management. As I understand it, archaeologists have a critical role to play in fostering substantive and sustainable local community involvement. What skill sets, tools, and training are needed by students and professionals to address the changing face of research in Turkey and the wider Near East in the 21st century? How will these changes affect the archaeology curriculum, funding strategies, and knowledge mobilization practices?

Christopher Lightfoot, Metropolitan Museum of Art
It is almost twenty years since I unexpectedly and rather reluctantly became the director of the Amorium Excavations Project. Although I had not trained as a Byzantinist or, indeed, as an archaeologist, I was aware even then of how large and important the site was, especially in medieval times. Taking over the ‘flagship’ Byzantine excavation in Anatolia was a great challenge, one made all the more difficult by the sudden and untimely death of my predecessor, the eminent Roman and Byzantine archaeologist Prof. R.M. Harrison of the University of Oxford. It involved keeping the momentum of the project going, sustaining interest in and support for the excavation, adhering to the principal objective of the excavation as laid out in 1988, obtaining and publishing results, and securing the preservation of the site and its excavated ruins. My remarks will aim to draw on this experience in order to highlight the challenges that now face a new generation of Byzantine archaeologists in Turkey.

Christina Luke, Boston University
After nine years of working and living for extended periods of time in the provinces of Manisa and Izmir (several months each year as well as two full years, 2000-2001 and 2010-2011), I have become increasing interested in the longevity and enforcement of overarching, firm cultural policies that dictate how archaeology is to be practiced in Turkey. In addition to my work as co-director of the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey in the Marmara Lake Basin of western Turkey, I am exploring the history of U.S.-Turkish collaboration in western Turkey, partnerships that resulted in multi-national educational opportunities for archaeologists and local communities. With this history in mind, I am interested in exploring new ways of envisioning a proactive, future set of cultural policies that facilitate multi-national education that aims to manage solid research with sustainable preservation and responsible development of both cultural and natural heritage landscapes in western Turkey. My comments will emphasize the importance of collaboration among scholars and local communities, dynamic pedagogy, and heritage corridors.

Timothy Matney, University of Akron
I have been participating in fieldwork in the Near East annually since 1984. I co-directed the excavation at Titriş Höyük in the Şanlıurfa province with Guillermo Algaze from 1994-1999 and have directed excavations at Ziyaret Tepe in the Diyarbakır province from 1997 to the present. My general theoretical interest is in early urbanism and town planning. Both of these excavation projects were salvage initiatives run through permits granted from the regional museums in Şanlıurfa and Diyarbakır. Over the past 18 years, there have been significant changes in my relationship as a foreign “scientific director” of a salvage excavation and the regional museum directors. These changes are professional, administrative, and political. Furthermore, the Diyarbakır province itself has changed in terms of economic, security and military concerns since I started work in 1997. I think what I have to offer the roundtable discussion is a perspective from long-term, but temporary, salvage projects in high-risk regions.

Christopher Ratté, University of Michigan

Scott Redford, Koç University
I teach courses on the art, architecture, and archeology of Anatolia and the Eastern Mediterranean in the medieval period at Koç University’s Department or Archaeology and History of Art and currently serve as Director of Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations. Over the past few years, the RCAC has collaborated with faculty in Koç University’s MA program in Anatolian Civilizations and Cultural Heritage Management, and NGOs in Turkey, western Europe, and the US in organizing and hosting workshops at the RCAC on various aspects of archeological practice, restoration/preservation, and site management in Turkey. I have served as a member of excavation teams and surveys, and directed surveys in Turkey on and off since 1982. I will be unable to attend the conference, but I will be submitting a short paper drawing on my field experience in survey and excavation, as well as my administrative experience in interacting with various actors in the archaeological community in Turkey.

Christopher Roosevelt, Boston University
My archaeological experience in Turkey has focused primarily on Iron Age central western Anatolia (in the provinces of Manisa, Uşak, and İzmir), yet it has traversed paths of team nature and field approach that seem to be spiraling back to a place near origin. I began excavating at Iron Age Sardis in 1995 as part of the fully-fledged institution that is the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis, broadened my experience to all Lydia with independent, targeted survey of tumuli and museum research for my doctoral work (2003), moved laterally into diachronic survey of the Marmara Lake Basin as co-director of the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey since 2005, and most recently began to narrow in on a singular Middle and Late Bronze Age site — a previously unknown regional capital — which I am currently preparing to excavate (in 2012?), with the goal of exploring issues of local and regional organization and interregional interaction.

Having participated in institutional, independent, and small, team-based research projects that span excavation, museum research, and survey practices, at Brown I look forward to discussing the relative merits of these approaches within the Turkish permitting system, while pondering the potential benefits of their integration in more holistic approaches to the regional archaeological record.

Brian Rose, University of Pennsylvania

Sharon Steadman, SUNY Cortland
I am the Co-Director (with Gregory McMahon, University of New Hampshire) and Field Director of the Çadir Höyük Archaeological Project in Yozgat Province, central Anatolia. I have been with the Çadir Höyük project since its inception in 1993, and have been working in Turkey since 1989. As a prehistorian I have seen an explosion of data emerge on pre-Uruk periods in southeastern Anatolia over the last two decades, a circumstance aided not so much by government priorities but rather by the many salvage projects necessarily initiated in anticipation of the completion of the several dam projects in that region. The acquisition of prehistoric data on the Anatolian plateau, however, has been a much slower process. Pre-Hittite (before the second millennium BCE) periods have not been nearly as extensively explored, particularly in the northern regions of the plateau, and thus our knowledge of this region and prehistoric periods is spotty at best. Pre-second millennium BCE periods are not a priority for funding or investigation in recent years in Turkey since they do not lend themselves, with a few notable exceptions, to good preservation or to tourism. I am interested in exploring how archaeologists may emphasize the importance of ancient periods that have not previously been considered vital research areas by government agencies. How might we highlight the need to continue the support of research in areas and on periods that either run contrary to accepted histories or are not likely to be popular destinations for non-archaeological visitors? Such issues are relevant not only for Turkey but in many regions today.

Lucienne Thys-Senocak, Koç University
I teach Ottoman architectural history, museum studies, and cultural heritage management at Koç University, so I am interested in how both the emerging field of Ottoman archaeology, and the management of archaeological sites have been developing in Turkey, particularly in the past decade. Starting in 1997, I co-directed (with Rahmi N. Çelik, Istanbul Technical University) two architectural survey projects in the Dardanelles, at the Ottoman fortresses of Seddülbahir and Kumkale. At the request of the Turkish Forest Ministry, our Koç-ITU team–with archaeological excavations led by my colleague at Koç– Carolyn Aslan– resumed field work on the Gallipoli peninsula at the Seddülbahir fortress in 2005 to prepare a conservation project for the site. This project was approved by the Çanakkale conservation board in 2009; we are still waiting for the Forest Ministry to implement the project. Because of the locations and complicated ownership of the Ottoman fortifications, we have worked in the Dardanelles region, and on the Gallipoli peninsula, with a variety of government agencies including the Turkish military, the General Directorate of Pious Foundations, the Forest Ministry and the Directorate of National Parks, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as well as the local museum and conservation board. While I am unable to attend the round-table in person, I will be submitting my thoughts concerning two different topics. The first is about the methodologies which can be used when documenting and excavating Ottoman period sites, particularly fortifications. Second, I will be commenting on what it means to teach “best practices” in cultural heritage management in Turkey, and suggest some directions that this type of training may take in the future.

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