The transformation of the Metropolis of Myra into an Ottoman village

By: Ebru Fatma Fındık
Research Assistant Hacettepe University, Faculty of Letters, Department of Art History, Beytepe, Ankara / TURKEY

Fig. 1: The house of a Turkish villager

The ancient city of Myra (mod. Demre) is situated in a plain of Lycia, surrounded by the Taurus Mountains to the north and by the Myros River (mod. Demra Çayı) to the east. Located to the south-west, on the banks of the Andrakos River, is its ancient harbour Andriake (mod. Çayağzı). The city has a large rural territory and during the Byzantine period the city had close religious, social, and economic ties with its territory (Foss 1996: 315).

Since 1989, the excavation and restoration work of the most important ecclesiastical building of the ancient city, the Church of St. Nicholas, has been carried out by the Art History Department of Hacettepe University. On the other hand, the excavations in the ancient city have been carried out by the Archaeology Department of Akdeniz University since 2009. Continue reading

The Cultural Afterlife of Mosaics in Turkey

By: Laurent Dissard, University of Pennsylvania

Sensational discoveries of mosaics periodically make the headlines of newspapers in Turkey. After being discovered, unearthed, cleaned, and removed, these ancient floors slowly make their way to museums or private collections. For this month’s ASOR Blog on the Archaeology of Anatolia, I wish to examine the curious afterlife of mosaics in, out of, and more recently, back to Turkey. I want to analyze their transformation from buried and forgotten things in the ground, to sanitized artifacts, aesthetic masterpieces, and contested objects of desire.

Unearthed in the late 1990s at Zeugma in Southeastern Turkey during rescue excavations before the construction of the Birecik Dam, the 2nd century AD mosaic below is now displayed in the newly built Mosaic Museum of Gaziantep. It shows Achilles on the island of Skyros leaving for the Trojan War. Thetis, Achilles’ mother, knowing that her son would die by joining the Greek army, dresses him as a girl and sends him to live with a king and his beautiful daughters on the island of Skyros, far away from the war.

Odysseus (R) takes Achilles (C) away from Deidameia (L)

Continue reading

Basalt Connections at Zincirli Hoyuk

Basalt lion from the castle gate at Zincirli Hoyuk, in the Pergamon Museum

By: Leann Pace and Eudora Struble

When Eudora and I began graduate school together at the University of Chicago, I don’t believe either of us was planning to work on a long-term archaeological project in Turkey. Eudora was very involved with archaeology in Jordan and my limited experience led me to believe that I wanted to work on excavations in Israel. However, we were given the opportunity to join what would become the Neubauer Expedition to Zincirli. This journey began in 2006 and we are eagerly anticipating another great season in the summer of 2013. Obviously we are hooked on working at the site and on being part of the larger research community working in Turkey. Continue reading

The Gordion Furniture Project

By: Krysia Spirydowicz, Associate Professor, Art Conservation Program, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, CANADA and Senior Conservator, Gordion Furniture Project, Ankara, TURKEY

Figure 1. Inlaid Table from Tumulus MM (E. Simpson, Gordion Furniture Project)

The ancient Phrygian capital of Gordion in central Anatolia was first explored in the early 1950s by a team from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Located approximately 100 km southwest of Ankara, this impressive site consists of a flat city mound with occupation levels dating from the Early Bronze Age to Hellenistic times and nearby clusters of burial mounds or tumuli. Rodney Young, the first director of excavations, explored three of the largest tumuli (Tumulus MM, P and W) as well as sections of the City Mound.  Over 40 pieces of ornate, inlaid furniture dating to the eighth century BC were discovered in wooden burial chambers located deep inside the large earthen mounds. Continue reading

Prehistoric Anatolia and the Archeology of Warfare

By: Stephanie Selover, PhD Candidate, the University of Chicago

Selover-excavating

Stephanie excavating at Marj Rabba, Israel

My dissertation project centers on the study of evidence of warfare from Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age Central and Southeastern Anatolia.  To date, research on the subject of warfare in the Ancient Near East in general and Anatolia in particular has been largely limited to overviews that include the entirety of the Ancient Near East and go into few details.  These include Roper’s “Evidence of Warfare in the Near East from 10,000-3,400 BC (1975), Ferrill’s The Origins of War (1985), Hamblin’s Warfare in the Ancient Near East to 1600 BC (2006) and Gat’s War in Human Civilization (2006).  Indeed, many such reviews of ancient warfare compile all of human existence from the Upper Paleolithic (100,000 BC) to the start of the Late Bronze Age (1300 BC) into a single chapter (e.g. Ferrill 1985: Chapter 2; Hackett 1989: Chapter 1).  Commonly, these studies lead off with the assumption that the origins of warfare start at some point in the ancient Near East then spread elsewhere (Ferrill 1985, Kelly 2000: 2; Vencl 1984).  Continue reading

Ulucak: A Prehistoric Mound in Aegean Turkey

Özlem Çevik (Archaeology Dept., University of Thrace, Edirne, Turkey) and Çiler Çilingiroğlu (Dept of Protohistory and Near Eastern Archaeology, Izmir, Turkey)

Fig 1: General view of Ulucak mound.

Fig 1: General view of Ulucak mound.

Ulucak is a settlement mound located 25 km east of İzmir, in western Turkey (Fig. 1). The mound contains cultural accumulations spanning periods from the Early Neolithic to Late Roman-Early Byzantine periods. The lengthy sequence at Ulucak allows observations on long-term continuities and discontinuities in the settlement layout, architecture, material culture, and subsistence patterns in Aegean Turkey over many millennia.

The start of excavations at Ulucak encouraged an increasing focus on Neolithic culture in western Turkey as the earliest occupation at the site is significant for understanding the neolithization mechanisms in the region. The early farming communities of Ulucak occupied the site from around 6750 to 5700/5600 cal BCE, thus providing us with valuable information on multiple aspects of their daily lives and cultural changes through time. Continue reading

From History and Myth, Anatolians in Mycenaean Greece

By: Josh Cannon, University of Chicago

The Late Bronze Age (LBA) of Anatolia is a period that has been described to us through history and myth. The history of LBA Anatolia comes primarily from the Hittites, who actively created and maintained records. Written in cuneiform, these records provide us with a wealth of information ranging from sweeping royal military campaigns to the correspondence of local leaders discussing missing slaves. The myth comes predominantly from the Archaic and Classical Greeks who wrote about how their Bronze Age ancestors interacted with their Anatolian neighbors. The most famous story of this nature is Homer’s Iliad. If we carefully weave the historical knowledge together with the myth, we can use the two together to accomplish more than either can do alone. However, this is a delicate task. Both sources need to be treated with their shortcomings in mind. For instance, one issue with the historical record is that it is incomplete. This is due to several reasons, though time will allow us to improve some of them. With time, scholars will continue to translate the many Hittite tablets that have been uncovered. Also, additional Hittite tablets will come to light through archaeological excavations. What time cannot touch are the historical details that were never recorded by the Hittites, details that were left out because they were deemed insignificant or perhaps politically damaging. Continue reading

Finally underway at Zincirli Höyük, Turkey!

J SkornikBy: Jordan Skornik, University of Chicago Divinity School

After a later-than-usual start due to Ramadan, the 7th season of the Neubauer Expedition to Zincirli (ancient Sam’al), an archaeological project of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, began in earnest. Digging officially commenced at dawn on Saturday, August 25, and with only one week under our belts, there was already much to be excited about. Thanks to the Heritage Fellowship, I was able to experience it firsthand. Continue reading

Scooping Frogs and Excavating Statues in Turkey

By: Emily Coate, 2012 Heritage Fellow

The generosity of those behind the ASOR Heritage Fellowship afforded me my first opportunity to dig at a Near Eastern site. I participated in the excavations at Tell Tayinat, a settlement occupied during the Early Bronze and Iron Ages located in southern Turkey near the Syrian border. You may have heard the name in the news recently, owing to the discovery of a couple impressive statues this season. Particularly noteworthy is the head and torso of King Suppiluliuma, with a Hieroglyphic Luwian inscription across his back. Continue reading

Contested Heritage and the New Museum(s) in Diyarbakır

By: Laurent Dissard

The southeastern provinces of Turkey will soon be home to a series of new, state-of-the-art, archaeology museums. Such buildings are being (or have already been) planned, constructed, remodeled, or expanded. The Gaziantep Museum, for instance, houses many of the Roman mosaics of Zeugma unearthed before the construction of the Birecik Dam. Other mosaics, discovered during the expansion of Şanlıurfa’s sewage system, will be displayed in an Arkeopark near the city center.

Diyarbakır, a third city in southeastern Turkey, is not lagging behind. Work is underway to transform its citadel (içkale) into an archaeology museum. Recent finds at sites threatened by the Ilısu Dam will make up a large part of its collection. Hence, the displaced antiquities will slowly find their ways to a new home. A win-win situation for Turkey, it would seem. As the country develops its infrastructure, investing in dams, roads, and sewage systems, it is simultaneously seen as protecting its past. A paradox, nevertheless, since it is these attempts to modernize that are threatening the country’s cultural heritage in the first place.

A view of Diyarbakır’s içkale

A view from Diyarbakır’s içkale

Continue reading

Archaeological Conservation Strategies in the Near East, Fri. Nov. 16

conservation session flyer

Click to Enlarge

By: Suzanne Davis and LeeAnn Barnes Gordon

This year we are pleased to announce a new workshop session for the ASOR Annual Meeting, Archaeological Conservation Strategies in the Near East. Both conservators and archaeologists tend to present research within their own fields, effectively segregating the disciplines. But this year, thanks to ASOR, we have an opportunity to foster collaboration and promote information sharing among conservators and archaeologists working in the Near East. As conservators who work on excavations in the Near East, this topic is important to us and we hope you’ll find it interesting and important, too.

The workshop contributors will present multi-disciplinary projects and research on archaeological heritage from Egypt, Israel, Turkey, and Iraq. Topics examined will include regional trends in conservation, balancing preservation and access, site management, treatments of challenging materials, and collaborations with local conservation and archaeological communities. Moderated discussions between the presentations will engage the contributors as well as the audience, creating an ongoing dialogue that we hope will ultimately improve preservation for archaeological materials and sites in the Near East. If you have questions, insights, or just an interest in these topics, please join us. Continue reading

Heritage Fellow experiences first dig in picturesque Cappadocia

I am helping clean what seemed a possible differentiation in the color of a plastered mud-brick wall.

By: Mehrnoush Soroush, 2012 Heritage Fellow

I received the Heritage Fellowship to participate in my first fieldwork at the site of Kınık Höyük, in Cappadocia. Kınık Höyük is close to the small city of Altunhisar, and Niğde is the closest real town where we spent several free Saturday afternoons. I cannot think of a better way to have spent this scholarship. To begin with, our höyük (mound) is located in such a picturesque landscape. My early morning trips to the site and my afternoon trips back to the dig house were like short dreams in a wonderland: endless combinations of horizontal lines of golden grain fields and orchards and vertical lines of poplars which constantly sway in the cool mountain breeze. All of these are embroidered on a blend of clear blue sky and pinkish gray mountains that infinitely reflect one another. Our höyük is the most prominent feature, at least in my eyes, in this landscape: a miraculously intact golden cup, set up-side down amidst orchards and fields and visible from almost everywhere, including our dig house in the village of Yeşil Yurt. Continue reading

Heritage Fellow Digging in at Neo-Assyrian Site

By: Dylan Johnson, 2012 Heritage Fellow

Thanks to the ASOR Heritage Fellowship, I am currently participating in my fourth archaeological excavation season. This is the first year I am working at the site of Tell Tayinat in southern Turkey, having worked three previous seasons in excavations around Israel. The site is best known for its Neo-Assyrian temple and Bit-Halini palace, but also has exciting Early Bronze Age occupation. We are situated in a region called the Amuq plain, across the street from the equally famous site of Tell Aççana (ancient Alalaḫ).

Continue reading

Several centuries of glass in one summer

Carrie Swan excavating glass

By: Carrie Swan, The Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown University, 2012 Platt Fellow

As a glass artifact specialist, my research is not limited to a particular time period or geographic region, so I am able to study material from a range of times and places. It’s incredibly interesting and rewarding to view material culture over a long chronological sequence, and to study the particular ways in which glass was produced and used within various regions and by different cultures. This summer I’ve been fortunate enough to work with two different projects, studying the glass assemblages unearthed during the excavation of Horbat Huqoq in Israel and Hisn al-Tinat in Turkey.

Huqoq is a Jewish village located in the Galilee region of Israel, just west of Lake Kinneret and within the area of ancient Migdal, Capernaum, and other villages made famous by the life of Jesus. The site dates primarily to the Roman-Early Byzantine period, but our excavation project actually has three main goals: 1) to study the ancient village, 2) to study the synagogue of the ancient village, and 3) to study the “modern” Arab-Palestinian village of Yakuk that was built on top of the ancient village but abandoned in 1948 and bulldozed in the 1960s. Continue reading

Heritage Grant Recipients Peter Cobb and Kyle Egerer Describe Their Summer with the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (CLAS) in Western Turkey

Kyle Egerer (foreground) and Peter Cobb (background left) with fellow CLAS team member Bradley Sekedat, conducting an architectural survey of a school house located in Eski Hacıveliler, Turkey.

We each received the ASOR Heritage Fellowship for the 2011 summer field season in Anatolia. We both participated in the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (CLAS) in western Turkey, on the shores of the Gygaean Lake (modern Marmara Gölü), north of ancient Sardis (modern Sart). The CLAS project is co-directed by Christopher Roosevelt and Christina Luke of Boston University, and we would like to thank them for the opportunity to be a part of this research. We are also very thankful for the hospitality we received from the villagers in TekelioÄŸlu, the CLAS project’s host village. The residents of Tekelioğlu made us feel at home in the beautiful landscape of Lydia while ensuring we had our fill of the world’s best olive oil!
Continue reading

Heritage Grant Recipient Marilyn Cassedy Describes her Experiences During the Final Excavation Season at the Kizilburun Column-Carrying Shipwreck, Turkey

One of the six-ton column drums comes to the surface.

This summer I was able to travel to Turkey to participate in the final season of excavation at the Kizilburun column-carrying shipwreck as a direct result of the ASOR Heritage Grant I was awarded. Because of the high cost of running an underwater excavation from a remote location, project directors typically require students to pay for their own travel to and from the site. The remoteness of this project served also to increase travel costs for interested participants. As a result of these expenses, I was one of only two students able to join the excavation team this summer.
Continue reading

Platt Fellow Allison Mickel Has Trouble with Her Trowel at Çatalhöyük

Last year, working at Bir Madhkur with Dr. Andrew M. Smith II, one of the volunteers had brought a footlong trowel meant for heavy-duty gardening, or possibly harpooning whales. We were constantly inventing theories as to its possible intended purposes, until eventually we only had to pick up the thing (if we could lift it) or simply mention the “Mattie trowel” to inspire laughter.
This year, at Çatalhöyük, I had brought the Mattie trowel. My digging partner-along with everyone else working in the building, for that matter-had a trowel with a small, sharp, triangular head. I looked like I had brought a pie-slicer to site. But my Mattie trowel had been through four seasons of fieldwork, across continents, where I had perfected my excavation technique with her. I had learned to cut Rubiks cube corners with vertical walls and flat floors. Continue reading

Update on ASOR’s strategic plan

Strategic plan adopted by ASOR board.

It is with great pleasure we announce that on April 24, 2010, the ASOR board of trustees unanimously adopted the “Strategic Plan as a blueprint to move ASOR forward.” A considerable amount of work has been done by the Strategic Planning Task Force that was chaired by ASOR President Tim Harrison. We thank President Harrison and the rest of the committee (Susan Ackerman, Jimmy Hardin, Morag Kersel, Sten LaBianca, P. E. MacAllister, and Carol Meyers) for their efforts and excellent work. To review ASOR’s Strategic Planning documents, please click here.

The Strategic Plan sets forth a blueprint for ASOR to move forward, but it intentionally did not resolve many implementation issues. The next step will be for President Tim Harrison to appoint an “Implementation Task Force” that will be charged with bringing specific recommendations for implementing the goals set forth in the Strategic Plan to the board of trustees. Updates on the progress of this committee will be posted online and in upcoming ASOR Newsletters.

Please contact Tim Harrison with any questions or comments on the Strategic Plan and with recommendations for the implementation stage. This is an exciting time for ASOR and we look forward to collaborating with our members in the years to come.

Posted by ASOR’s executive director: Andrew G. Vaughn

BASOR back issues available at steep discounts

Back issues of BASOR available to current ASOR members (professional, retired, or student) at steep discounts.

Option #1: Purchase as many individual volumes as you wish from the available sets listed below (subject to availability) for $5 for each volume plus shipping (see below). Please send a list of your needs to asorpubs@bu.edu (or call 617-358-4376), and we will send you a quote based on availability and shipping.

Option #2: Purchase one of the sets below for the special price listed (includes U.S. shipping). Please email asorpubs@bu.edu (or call 617-358-4376) for purchase instructions or for a quote on non-U.S. shipping. If you would like to pick up a set at our Boston offices, you may deduct $35 from the set prices listed below.

Online Option: Click here for information about receiving all of the current issues of BASOR online via Atypon Link and all of the back issues via JSTOR.

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BASOR 357 (Feb 2010) available online

BASOR 357 (Feb 2010)

ASOR is pleased to announce that BASOR 357 (February 2010) has now been posted online at Atypon Link.

You may access the table of contents here:

http://www.atypon-link.com/ASOR/toc/basor/357/february+2010

The issue contains articles by Maysoon al-Nahar, Christopher M. Monroe, Gideon Avni, and Asa Eger.

As a reminder, the last 3+ years of ASOR journals are available to ASOR members on Atypon Link. For details, please see the following URL:

http://www.asor.org/updates/atypon-online.html