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Catherine Barclay Scott

Catherine Barclay Scott
Brandeis University
Kaymakçı’da Özel Öğeler: İnce Taneli 3D ile Yerel Uygulamalara Dair Anlayışın İyileştirilmesi ve Yakma Öğeleri ile Ritüel Yerlerin Bağlamsal Analizi

Dr. Scott, Batı Anadolu’daki MÖ 2. binyıl kalelerinde mekân kullanımı ve organizasyonu konusunda uzmanlaşmış bir arkeologdur. Doktorasını 2019 yılında Boston Üniversitesi’nden almıştır. Tezi, özellikle MÖ 2. binyıl Kaymakçı kalesine odaklanarak, faaliyet alanlarını tanımlamak ve haritalamak için bir yöntem olarak sediman kimyasına odaklanmıştır. ANAMED’de, Kaymakçı’daki yakma özellikleri ve ritüel önbellekleri de dahil olmak üzere özel öğeleri araştırmak için 3D modeller ve diğer verileri kullanarak ortak bir çalışma yürütmektedir. Bu çalışma, bu yapıların inşasını, nasıl kullanıldıklarını ve yerleşimdeki günlük yaşamda oynadıkları rolleri incelemektedir.

Special Features at Kaymakçı: Improving Understanding of Regional Practices from Fine-Grained 3D and Contextual Analysis of Burning Features and Ritual Caches

Catherine Barclay Scott

My postdoctoral fellowship at ANAMED began as an opportunity to work on what seemed to be a well-contained project. However, with the space the fellowship gave me to think deeply and broadly, the project developed in new directions that I am excited to explore in the years to come.

This project, Special Features at Kaymakçı, lies at the intersection of two divergent themes in my research: first, the use and perception of space in the past; and second, the critical examination of digital tools and methods in archaeology. The former is one of the fundamental goals of archaeology: identifying the architectural layout of a space and what activities were practiced there. Beyond this, it is also important to explore how people moved through and understood those spaces and how neutral “spaces” become “places” that are layered with complex social meanings for their inhabitants. The extent to which we can access these layers of meaning is limited by the preservation of the archaeological record and our ability to extract information from it, which leads to the second theme of this research. Digital archaeology has been practiced for decades and seeks not only to facilitate the management and accessibility of archaeological data but also to collect more and better data than would be available otherwise. It does not represent just a new set of tools but rather a new epistemology, which requires careful examination of the ways that it reshapes archaeological practice and our engagement with the past.

To explore these themes, I am conducting a contextual analysis of two types of special features—fire installations and ritual caches—from the second millennium BCE citadel of Kaymakçı, located in the central Gediz River valley in western Anatolia.[1] On the one hand, fire installations are common at archaeological sites and often considered to have clear, usually mundane, functions. On the other, ritual caches (defined as such because they lack a clear practical function) are rare and are assumed to have more complex social meanings that can be very difficult to reconstruct. While one of my goals is to complicate these assumptions, these two types of features represent divergent modes of shaping and experiencing “places” in the past. They also incentivize different approaches to excavation, documentation, and publication in the present and therefore provide insight on how the use of digital methods is reshaping archaeological practice.

Kaymakçı is an ideal place to undertake this research both because of how it can contribute to our understanding of second-millennium BCE western Anatolia and because of the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project’s (KAP) use of innovative digital methods. Bronze Age western Anatolia has historically been understudied in comparison to the Minoan/Mycenaean Aegean in the west and Hittite central Anatolia in the east; Kaymakçı is one of relatively few sites that have been the subject of extensive excavation and can therefore help to redress this imbalance. The citadel is unusually large relative to contemporary sites in the region, incorporating both an elevated fortified “inner citadel” and surrounding terraces that are enclosed by a circuit wall. The site was also not substantially reoccupied following its abandonment at the end of the Bronze Age, meaning that these layers of occupation are more accessible than at other sites such as Sardis, Ephesus, and Troy. Furthermore, due to its exposed position on a mountain ridge, Kaymakçı has experienced minimal sedimentation, which facilitates non-invasive mapping methods (e.g., geophysical survey) and large horizontal exposures of architecture. In the interest of collecting more and better data than would be available otherwise, KAP also employs a “born-digital” recording system.[2] So, alongside common digital tools such as a relational database and a GIS, spatial data are collected digitally through structure-from-motion (SfM) recording methods that generate a variety of digital outputs, including 2.5D and 3D models of excavated contexts, digital elevation models, orthophotos, etc.

The research questions of my project can be summarized as the following. First, what can a contextual analysis of the fire installations and ritual caches from Kaymakçı tell us about the site and its relationship to other second-millennium BCE settlements in western Anatolia? Second, how does KAP’s digital recording system shape the way we engage with these features during and after excavation? And how do digital tools lead to new insights or new complications? In the interest of keeping this report brief, below I discuss a few of my observations from the past year.


Fire Installations in Western Anatolia and Beyond

Fire has always been an important tool for humans: it provides light and heat, allows us to cook food, and is an important element of many types of craft production. The centrality of fire in human life also imbued it with a variety of social and religious meanings. During the second millennium BCE, for example, we can point to the use of fire in Hittite rituals[3] and James Wright’s[4] argument for a “hearth-wanax ideology” at the core of Mycenaean Greek society. Already, fire and fire installations have played a role in our developing understanding of western Anatolia during this period. Beycesultan provides some of the best evidence for the role of fire in religious activities due to the excellent preservation of “shrines”—of which fire installations were one possible component—throughout multiple periods of the site’s history,[5] while Aegean-style kilns at Miletus raise questions about Minoan influence at the site.[6] That said, a review of the literature highlights significant gaps in our knowledge about fire installations at sites in western Anatolia: how they were constructed, how they were used, and how they were understood. This is in part because fire installations have sometimes been considered so common and mundane as to not justify detailing. I argue not only that these features are worthy of more attention but, further, that there is value in placing them at the center of an analysis that considers the multilayered ways they shaped the spaces and people around them.

During my fellowship year at ANAMED, I have used digital data collected by KAP to build a typology of fire installations at Kaymakçı, focusing primarily on construction, which is extensively documented thanks to incentives created by the recording system.[7] I am also continuing to work on contextual analysis of some of these fire installations that considers their construction history, their varied uses and meanings, and the role they played in placemaking within the citadel. These lines of research are supported by the ongoing production of 3D volumes representing the fire installations from Kaymakçı and related deposits/features, which allow us to digitally “reconstruct” the archaeological record as it was excavated. I have also had the opportunity to explore options for more traditional reconstructions, which will aid in interpretation and presentation in the future.


Excavating Ritual Caches, Physically and Digitally

As noted above, the archaeological remnants left by ritual and religious behaviors can be very difficult to understand, particularly in the absence of written documents that can shed light on otherwise-inaccessible perspectives. It is also important to be cognizant of what we, as researchers, bring to our engagement with the material remains of ritual behavior in the past and how our interpretations might be impacted.

At Kaymakçı, we are only beginning to scratch the surface of ritualized and religious dimensions of life at the site. The two ritual caches—composed of ceramic packages and other special deposits—are some of the only in situ evidence we have for ritual behavior at the site. However, by examining their relationships with their physical surroundings and patterns in the material classes from which they are built, we can reconstruct aspects of their construction and the meanings they might have held in the ancient past. Working with the digital data for these features has been particularly valuable, as the intensive recording system has preserved physical relationships that originally seemed unimportant and were uncovered over the course of multiple years of excavation. That said, working with this digital data has also raised questions about how our engagement with these features has been mediated by new and developing technologies. How has our ability to reconstruct ritual behaviors in the past been shaped by the ritual of archaeological excavation and data collection in the present? I am thankful that my time at ANAMED allowed me the space and time to investigate these diverse questions.


[1] Roosevelt, Christopher H., Christina Luke, Sinan Ünlüsoy, Canan Çakırlar, John M. Marston, Caitlin R. O’Grady, Peter Pavúk, et al., “Exploring Space, Economy, and Interregional Interaction at a Second-Millennium B.C.E. Citadel in Central Western Anatolia: 2014–2017 Research at Kaymakçı,” American Journal of Archaeology 122, no. 4 (2018): 645–88.


[2] Roosevelt, Christopher H., Peter Cobb, Emanuel Moss, Brandon R. Olson, and Sinan Ünlüsoy, “Excavation Is Destruction Digitization: Advances in Archaeological Practice,” Journal of Field Archaeology 40 (2015): 325–46.

[3] E.g., Taş, Ilknur, “A Phenomenon in Hittite Religion: Reaching God by Burning Fire in the Hearth,” in The Traditional Mediterranean: Essays from the Ancient to the Early Modern Era, eds. Jayoung Che and Nicholas C. J. Pappas (Athens: Athens Institute for Education and Research, 2011), 11–20.

[4] Wright, James C., “The Spatial Configuration of Belief: The Archaeology of Mycenaean Religion,” in Placing the Gods: Sanctuaries and Sacred Space in Ancient Greece, eds. Susan E. Alcock and Robin Osborne (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 37–78.

[5] E.g., Yakar, Jak, “The Twin Shrines of Beycesultan,” Anatolian Studies 24 (1974): 151–61.

[6] E.g., Raymond, Amy, “The MBA Hearths and Kiln at Miletus,” in Hayat Erkanal’a Armağan, Kültürlerin Yansıması (Studies in Honor of Hayat Erkanal: Cultural Reflections), ed. Armağan Erkanal-Öktü (Istanbul: Homer Kitabevi, 2006), 612–17.

[7] Scott, Catherine B., Christopher H. Roosevelt, Gary R. Nobles, and Christina Luke, “Born-Digital Logistics: Impacts of 3D Recording on Archaeological Workflow, Training, and Interpretation,” Open Archaeology 7, no. 1 (January 1, 2021): 574–88,