Archaeological research activities like excavations and surveys involve a number of people, ranging from only a few to thirty or even fifty people. Clearly, archaeology requires a high degree of team work. Day in, day out, such a team not only works together all day long, but also eats together, watches the matches of the World Championship together, plays football together, and share bedrooms together. Since excavations and surveys may last for a couple of weeks to a couple of months, you can imagine that it requires a lot of people’s social capacities, tolerance and patience.
The IAS-team in front of the excavation house at Gönen
"Können Sie auch Deutsch sprechen?"
Inevitably, communication is another important factor. During the collaboration with the Turkish team, this sometimes appeared to be difficult. A creative mix of Turkish, English, German and Dutch was in some cases the best solution to avoid misunderstandings. Not only could one respond in a language that differed from the language of the question, but Cemre even managed to clarify her wishes using a multi-linguistic command: “You, trinken!”. Another instance shows that it was not always easy to determine which language to use for a conversation. When I asked Benan: “Können Sie auch Deutsch sprechen?”, I was very much surprised to hear her say: “Yes”. If the Turkish language did not already confuse me, this certainly did.
But don’t get me wrong here. My comprehension of the Turkish language also is not what it used to be. Once upon a time in Isparta Müze (the local museum of Isparta), I was drinking tea in the reception hall - yes, dear reader, Turkey is not simply the country famous for its Turkish coffee; Turkish people probably drink more tea than the entire Chinese population – when I heard a song on the radio that was quite pleasant to my ears. Supported by my limited historical knowledge of the Turkish country, I was certain that it was a beautiful song in praise of emperor Osman I, the founding father of the Ottoman Empire. This was the emperor who conquered the Byzantines and founded a true Anatolian empire in 1299. An empire, that lasted for centuries until it came to an end slightly after the First World War.
“Osman, Osman, Osman, Osman!"
Full of awe about the historical awareness of the Turkish people, beautifully expressed in popular songs, I ran to my Turkish friends to ask them for the name of the artist. Confident as I was about the abilities of my ears, I reproduced the song in front of them: “Osman, Osman, Osman, Osman!”. Of course, they were laughing out loud, since this is the correct text of the song: “Atma, atma, atma, atma!”, meaning: “Don’t bullshit, don’t bullshit, don’t bullshit, don’t bullshit!”. Quite a lesson for me, I guess...