Ongoing scientific programmes

Printer-friendly versionSend to friend

FWO G.0637.15N: Contrasting population well-being in urban Roman Imperial Sagalassos (Pisidia, SW Turkey) with its Middle Byzantine successor settlement (1st-6th c. CE and 10th-13th c. CE)

Archaeology demonstrates how in different periods and regions, and in different cultures and societies the deceased have been treated in a variety of ways. Building on these differences and considering sets of burials as historical communities represents important scientific potential to approach the well-being of past populations.

The project will use human remains to reconstruct nature and quality of past lives. Of course, this cannot be done with the skeletal remains of just a few people. As a result, we will target not a couple of burials, but two historical communities. The project aims to reconstruct and compare the population well-being in the Roman Imperial town of Sagalassos (Pisidia, SW Turkey) with the inhabitants of Middle Byzantine Sagalassos (1st-6th c. CE and 10th-13th c. CE). The site promises to be an excellent case-study, as many aspects of these past communities have already been documented during a generation of interdisciplinary research.

As the project aims to reconstruct the lifestyles and well-being of these past people, their diet, living conditions and health, migration and mobility as well as their social and cultural interactions, this can only be done by group of specialists that work closely together with a background in physical anthropology, DNA-studies, isotope analysis and archaeology.

IAP 07/09: Comparing regionality and sustainability in Pisidia, Boeotia, Picenum and NW Gaul between Iron and Middle Ages (1,000 BC - AD 1,000)

The project wishes to establish and compare the regional trajectories of change and development in four specific ancient regions (Pisidia in SW Turkey, Boeotia in Central Greece, Picenum in Central Adriatic Italy and NW Gaul in Belgium and N France), in which the research partners have been active during the past decades. Regions do not conform to static entities, but rather change through time, in a dialectic relationship with both wider and local political, cultural, socio-economical, demographic and environmental contexts. Therefore, the project also wishes to address how human resilience, societal vulnerability and sustainability have changed through time in these regional frameworks, resulting in waves of complexity and decline. The partners aim to enhance their regional data sets, through the processing and modelling of available data and when required through the generation of new field data. The purpose is to understand the specific, yet variable patterns and mechanisms of regional change, as well as engage in the inter-regional comparison of archaeological, historical, geoarchaeological, bioarchaeological and conceptual aspects of waves of regional change.

The explanatory power of large windows in time is widely accepted for identifying regional patterns, as well as for assessing change. The partners focus on the period from the first millennium BC into the first millennium AD, representing the Iron Age, Hellenistic/Republican, Roman imperial, late Roman/early Byzantine, Byzantine/early medieval times in the respective study regions. The Roman and late antique worlds have been at the centre of the previous IAP programmes of this network, and remain an important focus in the proposed project, but the partners also 'look over the Roman walls' in order to understand different types of wave patterns of complexity and decline throughout the ages. This involves analysing landscape evolution and agricultural carrying capacities, long-term developments in craft production and exchange, regional historical evidence and demographical patterning, (de-)urbanisation processes and regional building traditions, changing patterns in human subsistence, the role of coinage and, in general, the nature of the relationship between increasing/deflating social complexity and regional development.

The project makes a specific contribution to the study of the ancient economy, which recently considers the notion of moderate growth on a regional scale as a central research question. Groundbreaking as this work may be, its innovative potential has not been fully explored yet in archaeology. Therefore, the project is innovative in its holistic interdisciplinary approach of well selected research topics in four extensively studied archaeological cases, on which will be based fundamental theoretical and empirical research concerning past regional development. In a first stage, the partners create a win-win situation by enriching the regional case-studies of the participating archaeological partners, by deepening the interdisciplinary collaboration within and between all partners involved. Secondly, they wish to contribute to the debates in the various represented disciplines by comparing deep-time trajectories of regional sustainability and waves of complexity and decline.

In sum, the project enhances comparative analysis and higher level synthesis of long-term waves of change and development in the study regions, which act as interdisciplinary laboratories for comparing and contrasting relevant factors causing societies to be more or less sustainable, with clear relevance for contemporary regional studies.

GOA 13/04: Approaching patterns of nature-society interactions in regional development. An interdisciplinary dialogue between past and present in the region of Sagalassos

The project wishes to initiate an innovative dialogue between archaeology, ecology, geography and planning studies in the region of Sagalassos (SW Turkey). The purpose is to investigate diachronic co-evolution of society and nature and tie the Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project to a parcours of sustainable regional development.

In regards to the past, the partners contribute to debates in social and regional archaeology, by applying an innovative interdisciplinary research strategy. In geographical terms, the research radiates from Düzen Tepe/Sagalassos/Ağlasun, as central places, into the adjoining valleys. In chronological terms, the partners study and compare key-moments of societal decline and reconversion, according to a long-term view, in this case represented by the period from Archaic (from the 6th c. BC) to Ottoman times (until 1922). The intention is to investigate changes in subsistence strategies and community building in the research area during periods of stress on social patterns, and to evaluate how nature-society interactions sustained and/or limited the emergence of new local communities. The accompanying archaeological fieldwork is framed by an interdisciplinary research agenda focusing on changes in food production and diet, technology, and forest and land use management, with the aim of understanding social relations in consecutive small-scale, local communities. Theoretic and methodological enrichment in approaching the study of these communities is expected from confrontation with models and concepts of social and sustainable regional development as developed by the fields of ecology, geography and planning studies.

In regards to the present, the aim is to first better understand processes that guide the development of regions and foster theoretical development in ecology, geography and planning. Theoretical enrichment is expected to result from confrontation with the interdisciplinary archaeological study of long-term regional development processes around Düzen Tepe/Sagalassos/ Ağlasun. For instance, geography and planning, thus far, have largely limited their scope to regional development in proto-industrial and contemporary capitalist societies. The long-term view of this project helps to disclose crucial elements of path-dependent (i.e. historically rooted) development of a regional nature-culture nexus (understood as the locally particular, fine-grained institutionalisation of ‘ways of dealing with the natural environment’, including cultural practices, norms and values as well as organisational structures). An analysis of the social, cultural, political, economic, ecological and environmental regulation of regional development in the different pre-capitalist societies forming part of the long-term chronological focus of this project also provides fruitful insights in alternative, potentially more sustainable pathways of regional development for the future. Second, by also incorporating insights from sustainable tourism research, governance of socio-ecological systems, cultural resource management and natural resource modelling, these analyses will serve as a basis for the development of planning how the Sagalassos region will build upon the cultural and natural assets available in the region, in particular those produced by the Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project. This should allow for the development of a methodology for cultural resource management that can also inspire other archaeological projects in contributing to sustainable regional development.

FWO G.0562.11: The eastern urban periphery of Sagalassos. A chronological, functional and socio-economic study of an under-studied ancient urban phenomenon

The project investigates the phenomenon of urban periphery in antiquity, a virtually uncharted topic in the eastern Mediterranean, from the case-study of the eastern quarter of Sagalassos. So far, the earliest activities in the quarter were traced to Classical/Hellenistic times (5th-2nd centuries BC), while a final phase is preliminarily associated with (Early) Byzantine times (7th century and beyond?). In this period of up to a millennium and more, the origins of the phenomenon and its developing and decreasing functionalities will be mapped, through an interdisciplinary research programme. The project holds important potential to document the contribution of the artisanal world to its regional economy, reveal the complex and developing social matrix sustaining the evolution of the urban periphery in antiquity, as well as contribute to the study of ancient urbanism.