Department of Classics and Archaeology

Building capacity for sustainable archaeological science and heritage in Turkey

Project summary

This study will build capacity for sustainable archaeological science in Turkey, from excavation to archive.

Furthermore, it will also undertake a novel programme of research: combining isotope applications to multiple sources of archaeological data at individual sites.

Rana Özbal, Hannah Lau and Emma Baysal (L-R) during their visit to the Stable Isotope Facility


Summary (cont.)

While it is increasingly common to undertake isotope studies on the bioarchaeology or material remains of a site, it is unusual for both to be studied by the same research group. This is necessary for an innovative and holistic approach to the evidence and interpretation. The existing expertise of the project team in material culture and bioarchaeology, respectively, lends itself to this multi-material approach.

The project adds an extra dimension to the interpretations developed through the theoretical and seriation techniques typically associated with the social science aspects of archaeological research and will provide a technical pathway for sustainable future research.

Project outline

This research promotes capacity building, education and training in the field of archaeological science through an exploration of the interactions of early herding cultures (Neolithic to Early Bronze Age) with the environment. Combining the rich cultural heritage of Turkey with UK expertise in isotope chemistry, the project will result in the design and implementation of protocols for laboratory analyses and sustainable data management solutions in Turkey.

A holistic approach to archaeological data (from excavation and laboratory analysis to Open Access archive and impact programme) ensures that a comprehensive system of continuing knowledge transfer will be put in place. The partnership builds on, and combines, the team's existing research specialisms with the aim of:
1) ensuring increased self-sufficiency in archaeological science and heritage management in Turkey.
2) simultaneously answering fundamental questions about human-landscape interaction in prehistory through an innovative programme of bioarchaeological and material science.


Project aims

  1. To build on research into prehistoric material culture (see cv publications) by including isotope approaches. The scientific aims of this work will be to perform isotope analysis on materials from a number of prehistoric sites as part of a new project: ‘Early herding cultures: landscape interaction and resource exploitation’.
  2. To expand the capacity for scientific approaches to studies of archaeological materials in Turkey by establishing protocols for laboratory preparation.
  3. Training a group of promising PhD level students and ECRs with the aim of sustainable knowledge exchange between the linked research groups, and future capacity building within Turkey.
  4. To pilot and propose standards, guidelines and a repository for collecting archaeological science data from Turkish archaeological sites.

Key findings/developments

So far the project team have organised and held a 3-week residential workshop in which the Turkish participants, (Emma, Rana and Hannah), attended UoN and our CEG partners at BGS in order to train in isotope sciences.

These have now been implemented by setting up a lab at Koç University in Turkey but further developments have been halted by Covid mitigations. A Masters student has been appointed to work on this project at Koç University.

Publications and other outputs

Planned outputs

There are 10 planned outputs for this project's proposed programme of research dissemination and impact:

  1. Journal articles - research methodology and results. Turkish language x 2
  2. Journal articles - research results. English language x 2
  3. Guidance notes for scientific methodology. Turkish language, Open Access
  4. Teaching resources - undergraduate, scientific methodology and implications. Turkish language, Open Access
  5. Digital resources - database of research results. Turkish/English bilingual, Open Access
  6. Masters thesis, English language
  7. Journal article - results of masters thesis, Turkish language
  8. Public exhibition - methodologies and results, Turkish language
  9. Conference presentations - linked to journal articles. Turkish language x 3, English language x2
  10. Conference session - linked to programme of capacity building for archaeological science in Turkey and featuring results.




Project co-investigators

Holly MillerEmma Baysal

Project team

  • Dr Rana Ozbal (Koç University)
  • Dr Hannah Lau (Koç University)
  • Dr Gülsu Şimşek (Koç University)
  • Prof Julian Henderson (University of Nottingham)
  • Dr Simon Chenery (BGS)
  • Dr Angela Lamb (BGS)
  • Prof Jane Evans (BGS)

Funding Sources

The British AcademyNewton Advanced Fellowship

News and media

BGS blog 1BGS blog 2

Related projects

Early herding cultures: landscape interactions and resource exploitation project




Department of Classics and Archaeology

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Contact details
Archaeology twitter
Classics twitter