Friday, June 26, 2009

Last Field Day

Three days ago we spent our last day in the field. During the few days students will finish their photo journals, written journals, and GIS projects while staff write final season reports. Despite the loss of my luggage, two broken cell phones, a broken GPS unit, and an interesting geomorphologist I have had an excellent season. My competence in ArcGIS continues to grow and we collected a nice assemblage of Eastern Terra Sigillata pottery. Below I have posted a few pictures from our second annual soccer game against the kids of Guzelyayla. Like last year there was a sizeable turnout and like last year we lost but the game was much closer 10-7. Despite scoring 4 goals (5 if you count the one I scored on our own goal) and I did not almost cut my finger off (like last year), I still hate soccer! Note the wonderful gravel playing field, the random cars and tractor parked on the field, and the nice crowd. Thanks to everyone for a great season and see you next year.

Soccer 113

Soccer 143

Soccer 161

Soccer 164

Soccer 194

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Karatepe of Azatiwatas by Kirstie Hudson

After a long ride in the car with many stops at sites along the way we finally reached the site I’d read so much about but had done such poor justice to when I’d given my presentation Thursday. The road wound along beside the lake created by the damming of the Ceyhan River. I watched the forest go by listening to awesome dance music courtesy of our driver Mehmet. As we drove farther off the main road a castle appeared on the mountaintop a few miles from the road. The country grew more ruggedly beautiful as the journey went on and soon we reached a sign for the museum. We hurried because they were keeping it open for us and so we piled out and headed off along the trail.

There is nothing more amazing than seeing a site you’ve read about in person. There was no longer any question in my mind about whether or not I was going to be an archaeologist. Seeing what Professor, Doctor Halet Çambel had accomplished here was inspiring. The fortifications of the southern gate came into view and I thought if I breathed it would disappear. I felt a tingle run up my spine upon seeing the ancient words carved into the Orthostats that had been painstakingly reconstructed from scattered, badly damaged fragments. I reached out and traced one of the hieroglyphs. I had never been able to put the pictures from books into perspective, but being able to trace the words of a human being that had lived and worked nearly 2700 years before my time left me with many questions that have yet to be answered.

Moving on I saw my first Phoenician inscription carved into the statue of the Storm God. The thoughts racing through my mind were and still are difficult to express. The Phoenician was more human that the Luwian hieroglyphs and so clearly made for efficiency that I was left with a sensation of pride. Pride in the knowledge that these primarily commercial seafarers had, with these elegant carvings, helped breath life into the writing system I use today.

Progressing quickly we rushed on to the Northern Gate. There was deep sadness in me because I knew we had to hurry and I would likely miss some of the most amazing parts of the site. Walking down a steep path that wound down toward the Northern Gate I began attempting to reconstruct the fortress in my mind. Trying to picture people and buildings, ancient streets and livelihoods gone with only their foundations, pottery and inscriptions to mark their existence. This footprint of humanity had lain untouched for nearly 2500 years and now, I could see it in my mind as the Northern Gate came into view.

Here were the best preserved orthostats with the sphinxes and lions that guarded them. Carvings of Egyptian Bes and obvious Persian symbols mingled with traditional Hittite art to create a beautiful fusion. I stood gazing at them for a time, camera held limply in one hand, forgotten in my racing thoughts. I jolted back to reality as I remembered how little time we had here. I had friends take pictures of me with some of the orthostats and the lions that guarded the entrance. I marveled at the nearly perfect carvings and finally at the maybe 2 meter high walls that were the remains of what had been fortifications. Restored by the excavators they stood as tribute to what men could do when they used their minds to better their lives.
We headed down the trail back toward the museum and I paused to look back at the gate standing serenely in the forest as it had for countless centuries. Light slanted through the trees casting even light across the gate allowing me a glimpse of history I’d never experienced before. In that moment I realized how different reality was from what you read in a book. Reality was so much better.
Hurrying down the trail I caught up with the group and asked them to take a picture of me walking down the forest trail alone.

“and even in those places which were formerly feared,
where a man fears to walk the road,
so in my days a woman walks alone with her spindles.”
- from the Inscription of Azatiwatas at Karatepe

Info on me
Name: Kirstie Hudson
Major: Classics and Ancient Mediterranean studies, potential double with Information Science and Technology
Year: Rising Sophomore
Age: 19 on July 6th.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

First post

Hi all,
My name is Ben and I'm having a good time in Turkey. I'm a rising senior at PSU majoring in CAMS and Religious Studies. This is my first field work in archaeology and my first time in Anatolia. My classmates and instructors are a pleasure to work with and I have much to update my family and friends on back in the States. So far we have intensely surveyed two sites and visited many others. Otherwise, we are worked like slaves (just kidding, kind of). Either way the weather is wonderful and the early wake-ups have established an edifying regimen. Hopefully the good habits I am picking up here will translate back home, if I return alive. Tomorrow we will be heading to Nimrud Dag (spelled in a plethora of ways), and it should be an exciting time despite the 12 hour round-trip bus ride. A few of our finds have been of some significance but otherwise a good amount of my classmates enjoy collecting amorphous rocks instead of sherds so that we may all scrub and discard of them (haha). Oh, and we've found a bunch of turtles, packs of wild dogs, feral cats (as many as squirrels are numbered in State College), snakes, lizards, and various spiders. Until next time...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Nemrut Dag

Yesterday we spent the day at Nemrut Dag.  Nemrut Dag is one of my favorite archaeological sites.  Built by Antiochus I Commagene during the first century B.C., the site sits atop Mount Nemrut.  The monument served as a place of worship for Antiochus and a series of both western and eastern deities.  The sites consists of a large tumulus, eastern and western terraces, and a large fire altar.  Simply amazing!  P.S. Sorry about the beard, going on 12 days without my bag!






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Friday, June 12, 2009

Ancient Alexandria (Iskenderun) and GIS

One of the primary goals of the 2009 Mopsos field season is to create topographic maps for a series of archaeological sites discovered during previous field seasons.  Most of the sites are mapped by taking several hundred points with a Total Station and uploading the data into ArcGIS to create the map.  The ancient city of Alexandria in modern Iskenderun must be mapped but modern development and urban sprawl have made Total Station mapping impossible.  One of my tasks this year is to rectify a series of municipal maps to a Quickbird satellite image and digitize all the modern roads and contour lines of the ancient city.  I have rectified all the municipal maps, digitized the roads, and, along with a student volunteer, have began the digitization of the contour lines.  The whole process will take some time but in the end we will have a nice accurate map of ancient Alexandria.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Intro ashley style

HELLO BLOGGERS!!! Or blog readers I never know who reads blogs, let alone what the reader wants to be called. You know you can never be too carful with those blogger types. Hey my name is Ashley Singletary, I will be a sophomore archaeological science /African American studies major next fall semester. I am here in turkey for Dr. Killebrew’s landscape archaeology Course as well as Dr. Hritz’s GIS course (for those who don’t know GIS= Geographic Information Systems). The Turkey landscape is amazing too bad I don’t know a lick of Turkish. I know I know before anyone says anything I’m learning little words here and there. Hopefully when I’m home I can continue learning the language, and come back fully charged and ready to rumble. Now that all of that introduction/small talk stuff is out of the way let’s talk about surveying. It’s not bad I could do without the waking up at 4 o’clock though. But being out in the field, looking through the sites, I feel like such a dork for saying this but hey I love it. The people here on the survey team are totally wicked. Because of all the recent happening in the fields the 4 girls in the group have already given each other nicknames. I’m sure the rest of the group will later introduce themselves, but just for the time being …. Nicole Tan is Thorns since she walked through a whole bush of them the other day. Tumbles is Kirstie Hudson self explanatory, Abby is the Navigator, I’m Black Arrow, and Joe is Gump as in Forest Gump, Chris and Ben didn’t get any names yet so I will keep you posted. Lately the group has been encountering the wildlife in the area by this I mean moths, turtles in the field, and now spiders! Yup I said it BIG ASS SPIDERS! Ask Brando aka Brandon he just had one in his bathroom! I will keep you guys posted on every fall, joke, and hilarious/historically moment. Peace


Hey everyone! Hello from Turkey!! We’ve been here for one week and five days, and it’s been amazing so far.

My name is Nicole Tan, and I’m (going to be) a junior at Penn State University, studying Archaeological Sciences and Sociology. I heard about the study abroad to Turkey program way back in the first semester of my freshman year, when I took my freshman seminar with Dr. Killebrew. I couldn’t go that summer, but when I heard about it again last fall, I jumped on board!

For the past week or so, we’ve been surveying at Dutlu Tarla and Dagilbaz Höyük, two related sites near Iskenderun. We’ve been doing random samples of 10 meter squares and working on taking points with a total station in order to create a topographic map of both sites. One of the most exciting finds so far has been pottery slag at Dutlu Tarla, meaning they were making pottery at that site, and an Iron Age potsherd from the top of Dagilbaz.

I’m not going to talk about the total station. Suffice it to say that we made an offering to the god of technology two nights ago, and we’ll go from there.

So, I was working on washing pottery out on the balcony earlier. All the pottery we collect from the survey squares has to be soaked, washed, sorted, read, and either discarded or properly documented. Anyway, someone decided to collect a shoe along with the pottery from one square. When I find out who that was…

Right now a few of us are sitting in the classroom and talking about nicknames. I’m Thorns. :P

Well, nice chatting! If you’re my mom, dad, brother, sister, friend, or boyfriend, just wanted to let you know I miss you, but I’m going to bring back great pictures!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Still No Luggage

Unfortunately when I flew from Cyprus to Athens, Istanbul, and then Hatay my bag was lost along the way.  At the Hatay airport I was assured by the baggage claim person that my luggage would arrive in Hatay at 5:00 pm the next day.  After a follow-up phone call, I was told that it did not make that flight but would be on the 12:00 am flight.  Now I just heard that they have no idea when or if it will arrive.  Although it is a little annoying being without clothes, bathroom essentials, and various electrical (GPS and camera) cords, I really wish I could go out in the field.  A pair of shorts, a dirty t-shirt, and sandals are not the ideal attire for survey in Turkey.  So for the last few days I have been rectifying maps and writing up the GIS final.  I sure hope that bag comes soon.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Welcome everyone to the 2009 season of the Mopsos Survey Project.  My name is Brandon Olson.  I am a PhD candidate at Penn State University and this is my second year with the Mopsos Survey.  We will have several blog contributors this year offering perspectives and thoughts from their experiences during the field season.  Enjoy!