Locals help students discover ancient secrets beneath a Turkish Plain

Locals help students

Top L to R: Steve Chaddock and Adrian Anderson of Timeline Heritage,
Illustrator Peter Carnavas and Dr Andy Fairbairn

Four Hinterland professionals are working together to deliver an interesting education project based on the results of an Anglo-Australian archaeological excavation in Turkey.
Witta resident Andy Fairbairn, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at The University of Queensland, is co-director of the archaeological excavation which is investigating how village life first spread across the world. It’s a job he shares with University of Liverpool’s Professor Douglas Baird and each year they arrange for students from Australia, UK, USA, Canada, Europe and Turkey travel to the Anatolian Plain to unearth more details about our past.

Locals help students2

Students at work. Excavation at the archaeological site requires patience and skill.

BONCUKLU is an archaeological site, an ancient settlement mound, located in central Turkey near the modern city of Konya. It is approximately four hours drive south of the capital Ankara, just north of the famous ancient site of Catalhöyük.

Located in Hayıroğlu village in central Turkey the site of Boncuklu Höyük – which means mound of the beads because of the decorated clay shapes commonly found there –, was lived in over 10,000 years ago when hunter-gatherer societies began to leave their nomadic lifestyle and take up farming in a period known to archaeologists as the Neolithic.

Boncuklu’s villagers lived in ovalshaped, mud brick houses and traded with other local communities on an area of wetland which is now a dusty plain near the city of Konya.

Farming appears to be in its early phases of development and was a minor activity, accompanying hunting and gathering upon which the people depended for food. One unusual aspect of ancient life in Boncuklu is that people buried their dead inside the houses, under the floor surface.

Locals help students3

The discovery of human remains is always an exciting aspect of the dig.

“Boncuklu is important as in it we find some of the earliest direct evidence for one of the key periods of social and economic transformation in human history on which our way of life is built – settling down to live in one place and making a living by farming,” Andy told HT.

Boncuklu is one of the earliest villages found just outside the key Fertile Crescent area of eastern Turkey, Syria and Jordan where it is thought farming and village life first originated. The site is showing how and why humans took up this new way of life in new regions and how it eventually came to spread across the Old World.

The Anatolian Plain has some of the best preserved Neolithic remains in the world and is a current focus for academic study. Boncuklu Höyük is only a short distance away from the World Heritage Listed Çatalhöyük site, which is famous as one of the earliest large towns and which attracts thousands of visitors every year.

The excavation project is truly international, offering people from all over Australia as well as other countries, from both the private and academic sectors, an opportunity to be involved in a remarkable journey of discovery. Excavation is painstaking, with the fine layers of soil carefully removed to reveal the site’s structure.

All of the soil from the site is carefully sorted for evidence and then a team of specialists carry out detailed laboratory research and analysis, which provides fascinating insights into life 10,000 years ago.

Maleny-based Timeline Heritage Consultants’ Steve Chaddock visited Turkey last year to develop plans for a visitor centre and worked closely with Andy on a successful application to the US-based Wenner Gren Foundation to develop an education program at the site. “As a heritage specialist I understand the significance of the Boncuklu site and how important it is to interpret the findings in a way that is accessible to visitors of all ages.”

Locals help students4

The discovery of human remains is always an exciting aspect of the dig.

The project not only involves the construction of an interpretation centre on site, but will also communicate understanding of the site to the local

Turkish community through production of educational materials including a booklet – Ancient Boncuklu: Life in Hayıroğlu 10,000 years ago which contains information about life at Boncuklu and includes sections on the environment, obtaining and preparing food, living in mud brick houses, trade, health and economic change.

In addition, a website will be a focus for anyone interested in the site and provide more in depth content for the outreach aspect of the excavation.

Former primary school teacher and local author illustrator Peter Carnavas will bring the excavation findings to life through a series of specially commissioned cartoons featuring ancient children living their lives 10,000 years ago. Peter said “It’s exciting to be part of such an interesting project, completely different from what I have done before and to contribute my skills to communicate the story.”

Locals help students5

The ancient Konya plain of Turkey slowly reveals its ancient past

Designer Adrian Anderson completes the local lineup, bringing experience and creative direction. “Projects with international significance don’t
land on your desk every day, so it’s a great opportunity to be part of a 100% local collective working on Boncuklu.”

Andy says “It’s great to be able to access these sorts of skills and expertise locally. The team are very excited about the opportunity to communicate our findings to local Turkish people, especially young children, and it amazes me to think that this is being done from the Range! We look forward to the 2013 excavation season, which runs from July to September, when we expect to deliver the first phase of the education project, including the construction of the Visitor Centre. We are still looking for funding to complete the interpretation fit-out. Anyone who is interested can get in contact through www.boncuklu.org”

One Response
  1. HGH for sale