Monday, 3 July 2017

Off to Catalhoyuk, via Olynthos

It seems like I only just got back from Oregon and I'm off again, this time to Catalhoyuk in Turkey, via Olynthos in Greece. I am really excited about the Olynthos project. Although I am no expert in ancient Greece, I was always fascinated by the mythology as a child, and it will be great to finally visit Greece. I was invited to join the project as a geoarchaeologist, specifically looking at the micromorphology of floor deposits in collaboration with the archaeobotany and geochemsitry experts. The excavations are co-directed by Lisa Nevett at the University of Michigan in collaboration with the Greek Ministry of Culture & Sports and the British School at Athens. One focus is the excavation of house Bix6 on the North Hill. New data on artefacts and their distribution as well as geochemical testing by fellow geoarchaeologist Carla Lancelotti have indicated broad spatial differences in uses between rooms in the building. I will be applying sediment micromorphology to house Bix6 to examine the differences that have been detected through geochemistry, and hopefully identify the specific activities occurring in each locale how these changed over time. Such an approach has never before been applied to an ancient Greek household, and it will be very interesting from a methodological perspective to compare our analyses with the insights from classical texts about household use of space.

I will be on site at Olynthos for a few days collecting samples for the pilot study, before travelling directly to Turkey for my first visit to Catalhoyuk since 2012. 2012 was an odd year, as my employment situation was a bit up in the air, and I thought it would probably be the last time I'd be able to go to Catalhoyuk, but I collected a whole bunch of samples anyway just in case. When I got my job at Newcastle in 2015 one of the things I was really excited about (apart from the job security, hurrah), was the chance to continue my research at Catalhoyuk. My PhD and postdoc work there opened up so many questions that I've just been dying to answer, and now I finally have some money through a Wellcome seed award to go and work on these questions. It is going to be strange going back; there has been so much change in terms of team members and project directions, and the 25 year excavations have just come to a close. I can hardly believe I have been working there myself for 14 of those years. FOURTEEN. And I only just feel like I know what's going on, and that my research is really just starting. The technology that has become available in recent years, technology that wasn't available when I first started work there, offers so much potential. I wish I could have gone earlier before digging finished this year, but coordinating all my commitments is getting increasingly difficult.

A mosaic floor at Olynthos. Source: Akademie iik, Wikimedia Commons.

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