In 2018 ANAMED launched an initiative in Environmental Archaeology (EnvArch) to develop and support environmental archaeological research in Anatolia. One year since its establishment, housed in a new workspace in ANAMED, it has built a strong foundation for this mission.

What is Environmental Archaeology?

Environmental archaeology is an important research field within archaeology that examines the dynamic relationships between people and their environments through time. Employing a range of different methods for interrogating archaeological data, researchers working in this field seek to understand the ways in which people have adapted to and altered their environments to fit their needs. Understanding these reciprocal relationships holistically is essential for understanding ancient peoples’ lifeways. Environmental archaeologists examine diverse topics, ranging from characterizing ancient landscapes and ecosystems to investigating past communities’ subsistence strategies and other economic, technological, social, and ritual practices. Holistically integrating different types of archaeological datasets (including, but not limited to, archaeobotanical, zooarchaeological, bioarchaeological, and geoarchaeological remains) within their greater archaeological contexts is key to understanding multifaceted and dynamic human-environment relationships.

Aims of Environmental Archaeology at ANAMED

The initiative in Environmental Archaeology at ANAMED promotes holistic research in environmental archaeology in Turkey. We do this through supporting and conducting research on all periods of Anatolian history and through providing educational opportunities for students to familiarize themselves with theoretical, methodological, and practical aspects of environmental archaeological research. We hope to facilitate not only research but also interaction and collaboration among archaeologists examining this relationship from different perspectives, forging a diverse and dynamic intellectual community.

Resources for Researchers and Students

A major goal of the EnvArch is to provide material support for research in the environmental history of Anatolia. ANAMED’s new facility includes essential equipment (e.g., stereoscopic microscopes, a hand-pump flotation machine, balances), reference books, and a growing collection of reference material for archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological research. We will continue to develop these collections in order to serve a wide variety of research needs and to support student training in archaeobotany and zooarchaeology.

Education and Training

Education in environmental archaeology is a central purpose of ANAMED’s foray into Environmental Archaeology. To this end, we led two training workshops this year. In February ANAMED and ARHA held a one-day joint-workshop at Koç University. Participants spent a busy day learning about methods and theories employed by environmental archaeologists and engaging in hands-on archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological analyses.

In September, ANAMED held a four-day Environmental Archaeology Training Program with participants from institutions all over Turkey and abroad, from different career stages, and with diverse research interests and experiences. The program introduced participants to environmental archaeology broadly, including a survey of research questions and methods, and provided in-depth experience in the two important subfields of archaeobotany and zooarchaeology.

We also provide support to students outside the context of these workshops. Interested students (and researchers!) are invited to use the facilities and work with growing reference collections to develop their knowledge of methods employed in environmental archaeology.

Future Steps

ANAMED’s initiative in Environmental Archaeology will continue to offer educational programs and talks and to support student training throughout the academic year, just as we are opening our doors to researcher colleagues and new collaborations. We aim to develop our comparative zooarchaeological and archaeobotanical reference collections further, as well as to expand our capacity to support different research subfields within the diverse field of environmental archaeology. In these ways, ANAMED will continue to provide both a physical and an intellectual space for researchers and students interested and engaged in environmental archaeology, supporting this important field of inquiry in the study of Anatolian civilizations.

Hannah Lau and Müge Ergun