Meet Ayşe Gürsan-Salzmann, Assistant Director of the Gordion Project

December 22, 2014

Ayşe interviewing at Hamidiye village
Ayşe interviewing at Hamidiye village

In 1995 I joined the Gordion Archaeological Project to study the socio-economic structure of the traditional villages in the region. The ultimate goal was to inform the ancient economic practices of the Phrygian kingdom, using the method of ethnographic analogy from the nearby contemporary villages, to help interpret the archaeological evidence. The ancient economy was based on cereal agriculture and animal husbandry through the Roman period and beyond. The contemporary farmers also grow cereals and pastoralists, for at least one hundred years.

sheep feeding on harvested cereal ; behind the shepherd is Gordion’s Citadel Mound, farther behind is another village
Sheep feeding on harvested cereal; behind the shepherd is Gordion’s Citadel Mound, farther behind is another village

Admittedly, a one-to-one comparison between the distant past and the present requires caution, nevertheless ethnographic information can provide insights to explain the past. So, what did I learn from the contemporary farmers living in the region, who were willing to share with me their knowledge of traditional farming practices? As an anthropological archaeologist, I obtained detailed information about non-mechanized farming/herding, land use patterns, social and economic changes with the adoption of mechanized agriculture, and other important details that were archaeologically invisible. So, practices of the present suggested a framework for the ancient economy.

Ahmet Başal Family in their courtyard, Çekirdeksiz village

While most of my field research is done at the village of Yassıhöyük which sits on the ancient settlement, the ethnographic information is derived from 12 village communities in the region.