Deniz Burcu Erciyas

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Deniz Burcu Erciyas


Deniz Burcu Erciyas is the Chair of the Settlement Archaeology programme of the Graduate School of Social Sciences in the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. She has B.S. from Bilkent University (1994), M.A. from the University of Cincinnati (1997) and Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati (2001). Her research interests include: Hellenistic period in Anatolia, Archaeology of the Black Sea, Archaeological Method and Theory, Byzantine Archaeology, Seljukid Archaeology, Community Archaeology and Public Involvement.

Opening Conference

Archaeology Education, Practice and Theory in Turkey

Archaeology in Turkey emerged as a discipline only in the 1930s following the arrival of German scholars fleeing from the Nazi regime who were appointed to Turkish universities. Until around that time, archaeology was done by foreign expeditions on Ottoman lands and for the Ottoman administration it essentially meant museology although the first legislation on antiquities had passed as early as 1869. In the early years of the new Republic, archaeology had become an agent in nation-state formation concentrating its efforts on the pre-Ottoman past in search of an identity detached from the recently collapsed sultanate. Such nationalism in research objectives did not continue for very long however, archaeology in Turkey assumed a rather conservative position in education, fieldwork and publications. Object-based archaeology dominated, championing culture-historical approach. Studies remained site-based for the most part and excavation projects lacked multi-disciplinarity. Introduction of scientific methods came late in 1980s with the establishment of the first Archaeometry program at METU. In 1999, the Graduate Program in Settlement Archaeology at METU was founded with a complete multi-disciplinary syllabus and has since served as the sole graduate program including processual and post-processual approaches into its education program. While education in most archaeology schools in Turkey continue to follow the limited definition of “archaeological cultures”, there is a growing number of scholars questioning how we do archaeology. Likewise, projects with interdisciplinary teams and regional perspectives emerged in the last few decades. The beginnings of archaeology as a discipline in Turkey has been widely discussed by several scholars thus it will only be briefly introduced here for colleagues who are not familiar however, the main objective of this presentation will be to discuss archaeological education, practice and theory in Turkey today with a special emphasis on the relationship between culture-historical paradigm and nationalistic agendas in archaeology and the resultant conservatism in practice.

Selected publications:

  • D.B. Erciyas (forthcoming) “Where did we go wrong? Heritage conservation, community and archaeology at Komana” Koç University ANAMED, İstanbul.
  • D.Burcu Erciyas 2014 “Invisible Change: Archaeological Practices in Turkey in the New Millennium” Turkey and the Politics of National Identity: Social, Economic and Cultural Transformation 270-287. IB Tauris, London.
  • D.Burcu Erciyas 2013 “Interdisciplinarity in Archaeology and the Impact of Sagalassos on the Komana Research Project” in (ed.) J.Poblome Exempli Gratia: Sagalassos, Marc Waelkens and Interdisciplinary Archaeology. Leuven University Press.
  • D. Burcu Erciyas 2005 “Ethnic Identity and Archaeology in the Black Sea Region of Turkey” Antiquity Vol.79 No.303, 179-190.
  • D.B. Erciyas (forthcoming) “Where did we go wrong? Heritage conservation, community and archaeology at Komana” Koç University ANAMED, İstanbul.