Aquatic Worlds of Anatolia

December 2022


Organizers: Matthew Harpster, Alexis Rappas, and Alexis Wick

The very idea of Anatolia, whether as seen from Türkiye or elsewhere, tends to be associated with the land and its many attributes—the figure of the peasant, the pure language, the ideal village, the terroir, the national territory, etc. In fact, many of these symbols connote places even deeper inland in Central Asia, further and further away from the aquatic landscapes—sometimes veritable seascapes—of Anatolia. In reality, Anatolia’s particular space, more than most geographical units, has been profoundly marked, even defined, by the aquatic element, which delineated its perimeter and constituted its body. Indeed, Anatolia can be visualized as an island-continent, completely encircled and permeated by waterways: the Mediterranean Sea to the South, the Black Sea to the North, the Aegean and Marmara Seas along with the Straits to the West, Lake Van and the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates to the East, and then the many rivers and lakes that alleviate its continental mass. Yet the aquatic lens is still too rarely used to understand the Anatolia past. Building upon the new oceanic and environmental turns in the humanities, this symposium brings together archaeologists, historians, and other scholars of various periods from the Bronze to the Digital Age to explore the history of liquid Anatolia.