Archive for ‘June, 2012’

Today marks the second annual Day of Archaeology, an online event dedicated to sharing the diverse activities of archaeologists throughout the world. Hundreds of archaeologists from around the world will share their own “day in the life” stories. These posts demonstrate the wide range of activities that archaeologists and their teams do to gather data and publish their findings. From digging in the dirt to building databases and from making coffee to organizing museum exhibitions, these tasks bring to light the myriad ways that basic archaeological information makes its way into public knowledge.

Ostensibly, ancient and medieval dwellings in Cappadocia would be excellent archaeological sites. But most complexes were made through cuting out of the rocky landscape, so there’s no real need to dig. Instead, archaeological surveys have been employed to great effect. For instance, Robert Ousterhout and his team surveyed the area near Çanlı Kilise, overturning the long-held belief that it had been a monastery. Veronica Kalas has published a survey of the settlement at Selime-Yaprakhisar, also arguing that secular settlements were a part of Byzantine society in Cappadocia. See the Documenting Cappadocia bibliography for a list of publications.

One of the more useful ways of viewing archaeology in terms of Cappadocia, then, its its inherent interdisciplinary nature. Archaeologists may be trained as art historians, anthropologists, historians, and IT practitioners. They are also quick to point out that there’s a difference between sharing data and producing scholarly work, and they are often involved in interpreting and disseminating their findings to both academic readers and the public at large. As I develop this site, archaeological projects continue to be an inspiration. At the Linked Ancient World Data Institute, archaeologists proved to be innovative participants in the Linked Data network, advancing digital publishing, and database building in ways that build foundations for further research. I hope that the data shared on this site will launch others into creating scholarly work as well.

Balloons above Cappadocia at sunrise. (Photo taken as a double exposure with a Diana Mini analog camera).

Every good tourist knows that a hot-air balloon ride is a splendid way to view Cappadocia at a glance. In the video clip below, Professor Robert Ousterhout says during his first balloon ride that it feels as though he has “looked at Cappadocia from both sides now.” Certainly, the contrast between floating above the valleys and crawling inside the rock-cut architecture within the landscape is dramatic.

The video below is of Martha Stewart, accompanied by Professor Ousterhout, surveying the Rose Valley, a Byzantine settlement called Çavuşin, the volcanic cones of Paşabağ, and the geographic changes in the region that are visible from above. (Incidentally, I rode in a balloon with the same pilot last year). The clip aired on the Hallmark Channel in October 2010, and the link here is courtesy of Royal Balloon.

Martha Stewart & Royal Balloon – Cappadocia (The… by royalballoon

*Documenting Cappadocia does not endorse any particular balloon company. Hotels, guidebooks, and travel websites offer information for booking balloon rides. For instance, the Captivating Cappadocia blog has offered a series of posts on the topic.

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In a time of amateur archaeology and European Grand Tours, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century adventurers such as Father Guillaume de Jerphanion and Gertrude Bell felt a compulsion to explore and document Cappadocian monuments. Another celebrated travel writer and adventurer, Patrick Leigh Fermor, made a trip to Cappadocia much later, some time around 1950, I believe, but his description gives us an impression of how the rugged landscape and its Christian past were regarded by Western travelers after World War II. In A Time to Keep Silence, he calls the area “remote and dateless,” citing buffalo-carts and camels, and an extinct volcano [79]. Years after the trip, he recalled that the “ghostly monastic world of Cappadocia, too, remains as illuminating (and as irrelevant) as it appeared under the hot Anatolian sun,” [89].

His description of the settlements, at the time still thought to be exclusively monastic, comes at the end of a book in which he describes living and writing in European monasteries. In these places, he learned to thrive in their silence and peacefulness, away from the bustle of modern life. While his romanticized view of the cave dwellings ignores their enduring historical legacy and their importance to Byzantine studies, I have also written about the peacefulness that comes from overlooking ancient volcanic valleys through rock-cut rooms.