: Research

Discovering the Archaeologists of Africa Launches

You are invited to participate in the Discovering the Archaeologists of Africa project. 

This project aims to bring a general perspective on who works in African archaeology and the ways that archaeology is done in African countries. 

In this first stage of the project, we are asking people to complete a short survey that asks questions about employment in archaeology and academic provision. It will take approximately five to ten minutes to complete the questionnaire.

Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There are no foreseeable risks associated with this project. However, if you feel uncomfortable answering any questions, you can withdraw from the survey at any point. 

It is very important for us to learn your opinions.  Your survey responses will be strictly confidential and data from this research will be reported only in the aggregate. Your information will be coded and will remain confidential. If you have questions at any time about the survey or the procedures, you may contact Kenneth Aitchison by email at k.aitchison@inherity.org. 

We would appreciate as many people as possible contributing as possible – so please send this link  – https://discoafrica.questionpro.com/ – to any colleagues who you think could help.
Start the survey 

Visiting the National Museum of the American Indian

The Great Plains of the northwestern United States and southern Canada occupy parts of Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska, as well as parts of Canadian provinces Alberta and Saskatchewan. This area once comprised one of the largest prairie grassland ecosystems in the world. Despite habitat loss, species decline and human destruction, opportunities exist to conserve and restore large areas of this unique habitat and the cultural heritage it has contributed to western expansion of frontier America.
Continue reading “Visiting the National Museum of the American Indian” »

The Arnavutkoy Museum: Hadimkoy Station Challenge

General Information on the Project

Hadimkoy is a small Turkish city 44 km from Istanbul which belongs to the Arnavutkoy municipality. The city, like the rest of the broader Arnavutkoy area, is included in the greater development plan of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (Istanbul&Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, 2011), which is planning the expansion and reorganization of Istanbul’s city borders, the formulation of satellite and smaller urban centers, and the expansion of the existing urban facilities such as: public transportation, green spaces and metropolitan parks, highways and a new airport. Consequently, the change of the environmental, social and structural characteristics of the Arnavutkoy district is expected.

Considering those future alternations, the rapid growth in the broader area of the Arnavutkoy municipality, the expansion of the urban zones and the increase of inhabitants, as described above, the formation of a museum which is going to collect, document, interpret, preserve, and promote the historical facts and traditions of the Arnavutkoy region seems crucial. That led to the decision, to turn two buildings of the Old Railway Infrastructure located in Hadimkoy city into a museum named Arnavutkoy Museum – Hadimkoy Station

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The first of the two museum buildings. Source: Taksim Yapi

The museum will include:

A Local Cultural Landscape and Human Activity History Museum, where the permanent collection will be held; and

A Periodical Exhibition Venue, where temporary exhibitions will be hosted. Their subject could vary, but still should be related to the museum purposes.

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The second of the two museum buildings. Source: Arnavutkoy Municipality

The subject of the Arnavutkoy Museum – Hadimkoy Station will be the presentation of the local history and lifestyle in time through the relation and interaction of human activity and landscape. On one hand, the way that the environment set the conditions in which local activity developed (i.e. the Terkos Lake water supply system) and on the other hand, the way the people transformed the landscape, adapting it to their activities and needs (Aksoy 2012; 5th International Architecture Biennale, 2012). Respectively, its mission will be to demonstrate and narrate to the public this landscape and social change depended on the cultural activity. To reveal the natural, demographic, ethnic, economic, religious, architectural and urban alternations that formed Arnavutkoy’s region contemporary characteristics (UNESCO, 2008, 2014; Kartaler 2012).

A Museum without a Collection, a Reversed Process

It’s common sense that when speaking about a museum, one of the most important components is its collection. In the Arnavutkoy Museum – Hadimkoy Station the material gathered so far is historical data concerning the previous function of the buildings; facts related with the railway system, maps which locate Hadimkoy and older villages of the Arnavutkoy area during time, as some demographic information concerning the population which lived in the area before the population exchange in 1923-24 (Stavridou, 1991; Meellas 2000). Hence, a material collection is not gathered yet. Research results will be exhibited within the museum premises, and through public awareness more tangible and intangible assets are expected to be gathered. So, how can a museum without tangible collection function and what is its importance?

The Old Railway Park Source: World Business Directory

The Old Railway Park
Source: World Business Directory

The most fascinating fact in the Hadimkoy Station Museum case is that the present of the Arnavutkoy district is the collection which should be gathered. Realizing that in a few years the area will be changed from the ground up, now is a unique opportunity to collect objects and testimonies which in a few years will belong to the past, and nothing will remind Arnavutkoy’s current aspect.

Archaeologists usually gather findings which they can’t explain or identify, because they belong to a civilization which doesn’t exist anymore. So they come up with assumptions or hypothesis, concerning their function and utility. Respectively the social and economic activity remains mainly an interpreted assumption (Pearce, 1994) .

In this case there is the opportunity not to have assumptions about the aspect of the area, but real testimonies considering all the important facts which are indicating the environmental, social, cultural, and economic activity in Arnavutkoy. This is the reason why it is proposed the collection gathering to be implemented vice-versa. Starting from year 0, which is today, the collection should be gathered and interpreted backwards. The residents of Arnavutkoy – Hadimkoy, especially the elders are the most important component in this effort, as they are carrying all the important knowledge connected with everyday activities and landscape alternations (Jones 1997). 


5th International Architecture Biennale (2012), “Arnavutkoy, Istanbul, Making City/Kent Yapmak”, Rotterdam 

Acela Meellas (2000), “Kadikoy and Derkos Metropolis Stamps”, Foundation of the Hellenic World, Athens, pages: 19-20, 271, 342-348, 433

Aksoy Asu (2012), ‘Atelier Arnavutköy: strategies for Istanbul’s sustainability‘, International Conference, Italy 

B.Th. Stavridou (1991), [professor in the Theological school of Khalkis], “The metropolis of Chalcedon, Derkos, and Prince Islands”, for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, published by Kyriakides Bros, Thessaloniki, pages 196 – 203

Istanbul&Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (2011), ‘Facts & Figures about Turkey and İstanbul, İstanbul a vibrant city of a thriving country‘. 

Pearce  Susan (1994) [editor], ‘Interpreting Objects and Collections‘, Routledge, UK.

Siân Jones (1997), ‘The Archaeology of Ethnicity, Constructing Identities in the Past and Present‘, Routledge, UK. 

UNESCO (2008), ’Guidelines On The Inscription Of Specific Types Of Properties On The World Heritage List’, UNESCO World Heritage Centre, France

UNESCO, Cultural Lanscape, available in: http://whc.unesco.org/en/culturallandscape/ , accessed 04/04/2014

Yesim Kartaler [editor] (2012), “Making a Sustainable City, The Arnavutkoy Approach”, Architecture Workroom Brussels, IABR, Belgium

imageTheodora Tsitoura is an alumna student of MA in Heritage Management 2012, with a Bachelor in International and European Economic Studies (AUEB). Currently she is a volunteer in the Exile Museum of Athens and in Diadrasis NGO. Theodora’s main interests are Heritage Management, Dark Heritage, Urban Heritage and Cross-Institutional Interdisciplinary Collaboration management.  

NARNIA: the Magical Land of Archaeological Science

NARNIA, or the mouthful New Archaeological Research Network for Integrating Approaches to ancient material studies, is a research project funded by the EU through the Marie Curie Initial Training Networks. The project’s lengthy title, abbreviated into a snappy acronym reminiscent of fantastic tales and adventures defines its purpose well: to build an interdisciplinary network between participating organizations and to facilitate work of young researches in cutting-edge disciplines of archaeological science. Network, coordinate, collaborate, integrate – a modern approach to doing archaeology.

Research Collections

Peter Grave using PXRF to reveal the elemental signature of a basalt axe head.
Photographer: Cate Lowe
Rights: © Australian Museum

However, NARNIA also has outreach training courses and workshops intended for interested parties not directly involved in the project. These range from technical training courses on specific methodologies (eg. applications of PXRF) to broader theories and practices of documentation and conservation of ancient materials.

Why would you care if you are not the one pointing lasers and peeking through microscopes? For one, trying to extract as much interpretable data from materials and objects as possible using multiple macro- and microscopic methods is a longstanding trend in archaeology. Everything matters; such multidisciplinary approaches drive a lot of modern research and excavation, especially lately as competition is increasing and funding is scarce. Archaeologists study the past but are nowadays very oriented towards the future – enthusiastic about potential new horizons afforded to them by new technologies – and even if they aren’t, they still might end up collaborating with a colleague who very much is. For this reason training workshops such as NARNIA’s are not only useful to young researchers working towards a particular specialization, they are of potential value to other (fieldwork) archaeologists, conservators and heritage workers who wish to update their knowledge on the latest developments in archaeological science as well as to connect with specialists with whom they (didn’t even know they) might want to collaborate. For them, it is important to maintain scientific rigor through having a thorough understanding of how to choose methods that are suitable for the questions being asked, what they can and cannot do along with how to interpret results appropriately.

Portable X-ray fluorescence device. Photo from DELTA Education

Doing archaeology, Star Trek style.
Portable X-ray fluorescence device.
Photo from DELTA Education

The workshops are also valuable to students for networking purposes as well as to get a better grasp of what archaeological science actually entails, especially if they are interested in pursuing further studies and a prospective career in these disciplines. Students study archaeology mostly through readings, lectures and practical work in controlled conditions, where they disproportionately deal more with the end-results of others’ (sometimes lifetime) accomplishments and spend less time talking about the drudge-work of field and lab archaeology, i.e. the day-to-day life of an archaeologist. By participating in excavations or lab work, students experience the process of archaeology, rather than just having a glamorized and sometimes (or most times?) misleading mental image of being an archaeologist and can therefore better conclude if such a lifestyle appeals to them and which aspects of archaeology they truly wish to pursue. However, if latest developments in methodologies interest them and their school or organization doesn’t have resident experts and facilities, eg. a radiocarbon dating lab, workshops like NARNIA’s can be a great opportunity to experience and to be inspired by the vibrant future of high-tech archaeology. Interested? Off to NARNIA then!

Sandra Šoštarić

Sandra Šoštarić graduated in Prehistoric Archaeology, with a focus in bioarchaeology of human bones. Her main interests involve health and disease of past human populations as well as the use of new technology and digital solutions in archaeological research. Having had a breadth of practical experience in different facets of archaeology and related disciplines, from digital documenting of excavations to forensic anthropology, she realizes she loves the past almost as much as the future.