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Turkey Trip

Greetings From Abroad: Turkey 2009

Restoring ancient structures 2009

Do you ever wish you could turn back time? A University of Nebraska-Lincoln group, led by architectural engineering assistant professor Ece Erdogmus, crosses many miles and centuries each summer. With her specialization in masonry restructures and a love of her homeland, Erdogmus leads restoration of a Roman temple from the third century C.E., in the ancient city of Antiocheia ad Kragos on Turkey's southern coast. She developed the project with art history professor Michael Hoff from UNL and professor Rhys Townsend from Clark University, and since 2005, several UNL students have joined the field work team.

Funding has been provided by the National Science Foundation and Harvard Loeb Classical Library Foundation, as well as UNL funding.

Friday, August 7, 2009
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Research wrap-up

The governor of Gazipasa (who is going soon to a new area to be governor there) invited our team out for drinks at a restaurant on the beach near our hotel. He asked what our thoughts were about Gazipasa and Turkey, having his assistant translate for us. Besides drinks, the magnanimous governor had two surprises for us. The first was a gift basket containing St. John's bread and tea and flour made from the carob bean, which is grown in the Mediteranean region. This is when I learned that I don't like carob bean. The second surprise was that he offered to pay for room and board of any student returning to work on the Antiocheia ad Kragos project next year. The evening was somewhat surreal, however, because I realized that it was the last time I would spend an evening at the beach (at least for summer 2009).

The work of each team came to a culmination as we cleaned up the site and sealed up the schoolhouse with tools and artifacts until next year.

The Clark students worked hard finishing up drawings and block field maps to be taken back to the United States for studying, inking (which is the process of turning their pencil drawings into inked drawings), and collaboration.

The UNL students arrived at stopping points in their trenches, which will be continued next year. The two trenches on top of the temple found the marble floor of the temple. One trench had a man-hole size portion missing from the marble slab, reavealing what are believed to be fill rocks that distribute the weight of the upper level of the temple onto a vaulted chamber below. Unfortunately, no entry into a lower level was found in this season of work. Examples of similar temple architecture suggests that the entryway will be on one of the temple sides or from the upper level. The trench at the rear (North side) of the temple was continued approximately three meters below the where the level of dirt originally was. This trench revealed an exterior wall of a lower level. The wall appears to go down further, but we will have to wait until next year to see exactly how much. Theoretically, the coursework shown on the rear lower wall will continue around the temple, and we hope that this is preserved.

The work of the Engineering team continued with all its diversity:

We continued to excavate the temple mound and relocate the blocks to block fields. Block field D was created this season for column drums, bases, and capitals. This will helps us organize these imporatant block types. Block field C was filled with marble wall blocks, architraves, geisons, friezes, other Roman temple pieces. Approximately 50 blocks and small pieces were moved this season alone.

We continued structural analysis of the blocks, completing block fields A and B. Analysis of block fields C and D is partially complete. The information gathered from this analysis will be placed in the block database that is currently being compiled.

The temple rendering project was given a hearty start this season. After gathering as much information about the dimensions and architecture of the temple, we rendered the information in autoCAD as a 3D file. The file will be refined as our knowledge of the temple grows. As another facet of this overall project, we were given instructions from the Clark University students on how to interpret the pencil drawings they have completed. We then draw each block in 3D. The block drawings include information about worked surfaces (shown as "hatches" in autoCAD) and broken edges (which are given a different line color in autoCAD). These two autuCAD projects are intened to be combined. The individual blocks may eventually be inserted into the temple rendering; this will allow the reconstruction team to better determine the position the block should occupy when the temple is rebuilt.

Since the archeology students working on the trenches on top of the temple cleared a path for us on the marble slab they revealed, we brought up the GPR system and took scans. We carefully placed a rebar piece in a lower crack inbetween two wall blocks resting on the marble floor at the rear of the temple. Then we scanned on top of the wall blocks. The results from this scan were processed using Radan software, which allows us to view how deep the rebar appeared based on the dielectric used. We compared this depth to the actual depth of the rebar, which we measured directly. This allowed us to calibrate the GPR machine's dielectric when taking scans over the marble slab. The results showed some interesting things: 1)the marble slab was visible as a clear line on the scan 2)below this were various parabola reflections 3)then the scan revealed a "dead space" where the dielectric did not change 4)at the bottom of the scan, a flat layer was observed. We believe that this does not dispute the assertion that there is a lower chamber to the temple.

Overall, the 2009 season was very successful; however, we were left with many questions. As always, the end of the work season serves as a cliff-hanger which will not be resolved until the next exciting installment. We all became close as we slowly graduated from "maggots" to "goats", which is how Professor Hoff likes to refer to us students as. We sadly said our goodbyes to the temple site, beautiful Turkey, and each other, and we look forward to seeing what next year will reveal for the project.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
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Week 4 -- July 22 to 25

For anyone who is interested in weather, on July 26th at 6:21 am central time, the temperature in Omaha, NE was 64 degrees Fahrenheit. At the same time in Antalya Turkey (2:21 pm), the temperature was 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

Today is our day off, and time to recollect an exciting and progress-filled work week. A variety of projects were started during the period of time that the crane was not on the field. The engineering students continued our work on determining the temple's design, construction, and dimensions. Working inductively from the evidence found within the temple mound, we used surveying to find a very reasonable estimation of the temple's width. We then sketched plan and elevation views of the temple mound. From this. we retraced the construction of the temple by measuring different types of blocks that would have been stacked on top of each other centuries ago. We are attempting to create a detailed 3D rendering of the temple as it once was, thus making it necessary for us to study the site and ancient architecture so that we can make inferences. Luckily, we have talented professors and students from the other two university teams who are able and willing to provide us with the information we need.

A recent discovery has put a slight kink in our design of the temple, however. In the trench of an archaeology student, crowning moulding was found on what was originally thought to be the podium (platform). A crowning moulding is intended to be viewed from underneath, thus indicating that the platform is at least another 2 meters down (so that a person could stand under what is now considered the creppice of the temple). We are fairly certain that the lower level of the temple was a chamber, with walls visible (not dirt covered) around the entire outside of the temple. Since the west side of the temple is not preserved, we are not sure how these walls were constructed. Hopefully, further excavation on the North side of the mound (where Billy's trench is located, pictured left) will reveal more clues.

The excitement did not end there, fortunately. Extensive block, dirt, and rock removal has shown us a wall built perpendicular to the temple in a post-Roman time period. We the wall is Byzantine, and the Byzantine Empire was in control of this area from the late 5th century to the 11th centruy. Since the wall was found under collapsed temple pieces, we must assume that the temple collapsed after the 5th century. Assuming that this wall (pictured lower left) and the byzantine wall discovered within one of the trenches on top of the temple mound (pictured upper right) were built at nearly the same time, then the temple must have been at least partially intact at that time. During its centuries of use, many alterations have been made to the temple that tend to confuse our vision of how it may have looked. We hope to layer the previously mentioned computer generation of the temple based on its construction (and "deconstruction") in different time periods.

We also began a topographic map of the site and surrounding area of approximately a 200 meters radius. With a total station (which is the machine used to gather surveying data) set up on a tripod on an established point on the temple, Professor Hoff sent out a crack team of students to brave the brush and bugs in order to gather enough points to create a detailed map of the terrain.

Also during this week, Professor Hoff made a "squeeze" of what is one of the longest ancient oracle readings in Turkey, which happens to be at our temple site (pictured below). In order to make the squeeze, which is a technique used to copy writing or carving from a piece of flat stone, beer paper was wet down on the block. Then the air bubbles were brushed out. Finally, the same soft brush was used to embed the paper into the writing. Once the paper dries, a reflected copy of the oracle reading (which was done by local priests to predict the future) is ready to be read by anyone who knows Greek.

On a side note, we continue to enjoy the meals cooked for us at the schoolhouse near the work field. Besides the ever present cay(tea)and delicious corba (soup), we are delighted to once a week find a Turkish desert, such as sutlac (rice pudding). We also look forward to days on which we are given cold cola to drink. Pictured left, UNL student Jarod enjoys one of these meals with a couple of local hired workers.

On the evening before our day off (which we like to refer to as Friday, no matter the actual day of the week), we went as a large group to a restaurant on to of a hill near our hotel. There we all celebrated Dr. Ece Erdogmus's belated birthday (pictured right) with delicious food from what is likely the most upscale restaurant in Gazipasa.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
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Exciting Past Week

Hello again fans of the Turkey Trip Blog! A lot has happened since I made my last entry! I'm almost a full meter deep in my trench (which doesn't seem like much but, trust me, it took a lot of work...), and I have found several more terra cotta roof tiles as well as numerous pottery sherds (also made from terra cotta). Eventually, we will clean off all of the terra cotta fragments and try to figure out what period the sherds came from as well as investigate whether we have any pieces of pottery that fit together. Although I'm extremely excited about all of the terra cotta, the most impressive discovery I've made in the past week was a Roman coin (dating to approximately the 2nd-3rd century AD). The coin looks to be somewhat well preserved and could prove to be useful in dating our temple.

As of recently, I have been focusing on digging as quickly as possible because part of the back face of the temple is in my trench and it is our goal to have it exposed by the end of the season. We believe that I still have at least 2 meters to go before I reach this goal so I've got my work cut out for me. Luckily, I get to have a break from digging sometimes because one of our local workers takes over for me for awhile :)

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
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Project Origins, Site Overview, and July 21

Initially, our current project was a mission to uncover evidence of the Cilician pirates that were famed to have been based in Rough Cilicia, the region of Turkey on which the site of Antiocheia ad Kragos was formed. According to history, some 10,000 pirates plagued the Mediterranean during the Helenistic period. The task of confirming this historical account proved difficult however, because the pirates are not likely to leave significant archeaological remains.

The project then morphed into a study of region, specifically of the ancient Roman city of Antiocheia ad Kragos. The city is the namesake of a city planner who was given money to build the city in around 1000 AD. The temple which we are excavating and plan to rebuild is circa 3000 AD. The city flourished due to the natural defense advantages of the mountainous terrain, the location near sea for the Roman navy, and the local timber industry.

During a site tour at the beginning of our last work day of the week, we saw how much "our" city had to offer. The city boasted a thoroughfare bordered with colonnades leading to the city gates, an agora, baths, many churches (pictured below), various tomb locations, and (of course) a temple dedicated to an emporer with an affinity for the Roman god Appollo. My personal thoughts are that I am very proud of the site, and I hope that it will someday be excavated for all to enjoy.
The next day, all students and professors (except the absent Dr. Erdogmus) took a day trip to the ancient city of Perge, a tourist site in Antalya. We paid 15 TL to see view the largest excavated (en progresse) site that I have seen, and it was certainly worth the lira. My favorite part of the site (although I could easily expound on all of the attractions that the city holds) was the main thouroughfare (pictured below), which followed a water cannal leading to a statue of the Roman god of the Kestros River.
I also enjoyed seeing the excavation and reconstruction work. We saw evidence of work similar to our own, although on a more grand scale. Evidence includes: block fields, rebuilt walls with numbered blocks, columns put back together with metal reenforcing bars, and gaisons stacked on friezes stacked on architraves. The work is extensive and very impressive.
Monday, July 20, 2009
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Halfway through....

Wow! I can't believe that two nights ago we hit the halfway point of the trip. It seems like just yesterday that I was boarding the plane, saying goodbye to my friends and family. So far the trip has been such a rush touring, working and relaxing with fellow group members that I have not been able to catch my breath. I am looking forward to the next three weeks and hope that they will be as exhilarating as the first three!

Work has recently slowed down a bit since the crane has left. Ece has put us on a list of tasks to get done while she is at a conference in Africa. The tasks include doing GPR scans to get a visual of what is underground without having to dig. Also have been asked to figure out the dimensions of the temple which seems to be simple. In all actuality, it is fairly difficult because the edges are undefined and it takes a lot of analysis to get the correct numbers. Along with these tasks, we are helping the other teams with thier projects when they need it.

Tomorrow is our day off, which is very exciting because we will be travelling to Antalya to visit the ancient roman city of Perge. Apparently it is very well preserved, so it may give us some clues as to what our ancient town may have looked like. It is very exciting to see the different buildings such as the baths, theaters, tombs and churches.

I will post again soon!

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Ece has been at a conference in Africa the past couple of days, so Jake, Holly and I have been working on a short list of tasks while the crane is away. We've spent some time drawing and getting dimensions of different parts of the temple platform. Later this year we hope to create a render of what the temple would have looked like back in the day. I almost feel like a time traveler lately, because we've seen so many ancient sites. We went on a more complete tour of the town that our temple is a part of today. It's fun to imagine what the people there saw in their time and compare it to what we see now!
Friday, July 17, 2009
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July 17

Work continues to move right along! The progress is impressively swift by both the Clark students and University of Nebraska students. The crane again arrived to remove more history from the temple mound. An exciting piece of the puzzle, the pediment (pictured left), was slowly moved from the ground in front of the temple (where the block would have originally been welcoming visitors) to nearby block field A. The work began with drawing the resting side, continued with documentation, moved along with digging strap slots underneath the block, and culminated in 40ft joyride on the crane;a job well done by all those involved! In other news, a fellow engineering student and I are tasked with more accurately approximating the dimensions of the temple as it originally stood. As we anxiously await for the temple to become more revealed, we can only make an educated guess as to how the temple was constructed. We believe, with instruction from Professors Hoff and Erdogmus, that the temple had at least three levels of marble blocks: foundation, floor, and wall. Today was spent designing an intricate plan to determine the width of the temple using surveying equipment and two foundation blocks (from opposite corners) that appear to be near original position. Unfortunately, no conclusive results have been found at this time.

After lunch that day, the governor of the Gazipasa region visited the site. Over a cup of tea, he told us general information about Gazipasa and about how excited he is that we are working on the project. The main source of economic income for the region is currently agriculture, but the emphasis is slowly being shifted to tourism, with the help of attractions like the Antiocheia ad Kragos temple project. He also mentioned that areal photographs were recently taken of the site, which has us all excited to see them!

Also worth mentioning is this impression of a column drum, created by UNO student Jake Zach: