University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

A Summer Day in the Village of Yassıhöyük

January 28, 2015

YH fields mostly owned by the villagers

Farmers and shepherds begin work at daybreak. Fields surround the village in a 2-5 km distance. At daybreak, with the call to prayer local farmers are on tractors and modern harvesters; lorries start rolling across the landscape loaded with migrant workers that include women and children.

Migrant workers posing in front of the camera
Checking crops

In the fields wheat and barley are checked for ripeness, sugar beet and onion plots weeded and irrigated.

Soon the shepherd starts his long daily journey through the meadow, across the steppe vegetation toward Sakarya river, tingling of sheep bells fill the air:

Morning milking of sheep

At the home front women are moving in a fast pace: milking, preparing breakfast for the men who will go home from sun-struck fields for late breakfast and a short rest before returning to the fields until lunch time.

Women, besides their daily chores of cooking and baking, washing, caring for young children, have to attend to food preparation for winter storage—jams from garden produce of dried apricot and sour cherries, sun-dried vegetables, tomato paste, pickled cucumbers and others from the vegetable garden; Turkish white cheese made from a combination of sheep and cow milk is put into tin containers to age till winter.

Sub-basement storage of vegetables and cheese for winter

Some food preparations are more labor intensive such as cutting up macaroni from freshly made dough and “tarhana” soup. The latter is a super organic food, all ingredients are farm grown–it consists of yoghurt, flour, tomato, mint and red pepper, all combined and let to dry in the sun. It is then powdered and kept in jars. It is the staple food in the winter. Women generally work together on such activities which last several weeks.

Food preparation in groups of relatives and neighbors

_macaroni.36a MANTI_2389.36c

In addition to food preparation, wool processing is also communally done by close kin; sheared wool is washed in the village fountain, dried and fluffed and stuffed into bedding.

Wool processing, from shearing to carding

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Another time-consuming and manually done women’s task is applying plaster on mud-brick houses annually (both exterior and interiors).

Annual plastering and white washing of mudbrick houses


Thursdays are market days in Polatlı. Some villagers in the region bring their garden produce and cheese to the market. Women vendors take some time to frequent clothing stores and check out the gold jewellery in local shops.

Thursday food market in Polatlı which is the district capitol, where from foodstuffs to animals, housewares are sold

Back in the village the day ends with a spectacular crimson sunset. As evening light settles on the distant landscape, the contours of the tumuli come into view. In the coolness of the evening farmers and shepherds return home, the sheep bells echo in the still of the night as a long line of white wooly sheep and goats traverse the landscape from a long, ardous hike. At home women begin to set the dinner table while the müezzin is calling for the evening prayer.

A view over 110 tumuli near Gordion and the region

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