I was asked via email how many field seasons we have done at Ziyaret Tepe and why the Turkish government is building a dam that will destroy so many ancient sites. Both are good questions so I thought I would share the answers here on the blog.
It is hard to believe, but this is our 17th field season at Ziyaret Tepe. The first year of the project, 1997, was devoted to making a topographic map of the site and completing an intensive surface survey. This means that we systematically collected and recorded surface materials (mostly pottery sherds, of course) over the entire 32 hectares of our site. We didn’t collect every sherd, but rather we took a carefully controlled sample that allowed us to estimate the size of Ziyaret Tepe, the periods during which it was occupied, and how the site grew and diminished in size over several thousand years of people living here. We then completed two seasons of geophysical survey and excavation started in 2000. We have excavated every year since the, except 2005 which was a study season at the dig house.
The dam being built at Ilisu is primarily going to provide hydroelectric power for the region. Additionally, the water from the reservoirs will be used for irrigation. Since we started work here, crops requiring irrigation have been introduced on a large scale: cotton, tobacco, and now corn. The Turkish government has been sponsoring a number of archaeological projects in the region since the late 1990’s in order to record as much of the ancient heritage of the region as possible before the completion of the dam.