About this blog

From July 1 2014 until 30 September 2014, Dies van der Linde resided in the region of Pisidia as well as at the Netherlands Institute in Turkey, Istanbul. During this period, besides visiting several museums and archaeological sites in Pisidia to make an inventory of the grave material in this region, he participated in the Isparta Archaeological Survey, directed by dr. Bilge Hürmüzlü. This blog introduces the reader into the world of an archaeologist, who travels abroad for research purposes. In addition to archaeological material and activities, this world entails the encounter with a team of Turkish archaeologists and with the society, whose history he is actually investigating.

This research would not have been possible without the efforts and support of Dr. Lidewijde de Jong and Dr. Bilge Hürmüzlü. It is supported by a research permit of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, a research grant of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and a partial fellowship at the Netherlands Institute in Turkey. Currently, Dies continues his research activities as a PhD candidate at Koç Üniversitesi (Istanbul, Turkey).


Follow me on Academia.edu

#7 Melancholia

I have always been an optimist. Life is beautiful, and if it is not, it will be. Born and raised in the prosperous Low Countries, I had nothing to worry about. Europe was a safe haven: all there was, was peace, love and happiness. I attended a decent high school, I got a university education and I decided to enter the dreamy realm of archaeology. My idealistic world view is also reflected by my love for disco and house music: the ultimate music genres that propagate love, happiness and having fun. The world seemed to me as one giant play ground, and in this respect I do not think I am the only one of my generation. In the Netherlands, young people nowadays celebrate their weekends in clubs and at music festivals en masse, of course including the necessary alcoholic beverages and stimulating ‘sweets’. Recently, a supermarket in Amsterdam even opened its doors to provide an alternative space for a genuine ‘disco party’. Conversations with friends generally included issues like ‘where the party at?’, ‘this track is awesome’, or ‘who led the dogs out?’. Can the world be even more beautiful?

Grown up in this positivistic environment, I moved to Istanbul last February. I was thrilled, and how could I not be? I was going to live in what, without a doubt, is one of the most amazing cities on earth, especially when you have an interest in history and archaeology like me.

 "Life is beautiful, and if it is not, it will be"

I should have read Istanbul: memories and a city, written by Nobel-prize winner Orhan Pamuk, more carefully. One of the common threads running through his story, is the melancholic nature of the Istanbulu. According to Pamuk, you can find this melancholy, hüzün, anywhere: in the structure and appearance of the city and its monuments, in the way people wander through the streets or gaze upon the waves of the Bosphorus, in their struggle to be modern, but still holding on to their glorious past, the visible remnants of which are deteriorating and disappearing every day. Whereas to me the historical topography and monuments are a reason for astonishment and amazement, Pamuk considers them as the source for a general sense of hüzün in Istanbul, reminding its inhabitants of the lost glory of their city, which is unlikely to return soon. Melancholy is a defining facet of Istanbul, he says.

Beautiful and interesting story, definitely, but it did not enable me to experience this feeling of hüzün Pamuk was talking about. So then the day turned up I was invited to drink some rakı. The national beverage of Turkey, which any tourist in Istanbul wishes to drink after a day of wandering the streets of the city. Not unlike the common tourist, I was up for a drink, a party and possibly some dancing: in short, having some fun. With a blatant optimism, I took a seat at the so-called rakı-table. As is customary, the table was soon full of appetizers (meze) to accompany the drinks. It was in this setting, in a place in the Beşiktaş-district, lit by a bunch of TL-lights and occasionally filled by the sounds of a sitar-player, I did not have the fun I was expecting; on the contrary, I had my first experience of total hüzün. Parties, holiday plans, the hunt for girls or casual chitchat– such a nice weather, don’t you think? – do not feature in the conversations at the rakı-table; instead, the talks covered the destiny of little girls who are not allowed to speak their own language at school, in effect denying them a proper education; the fate of ex-militaries who are locked up in psychiatric institutions due to a Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; or the increasing number of violent attacks on the female inhabitants of Turkey. Meanwhile, the people sang along with the melancholic sounds of Müslüm Gürses (Müslüm Baba, ‘Daddy Müslüm’). I left the place in total agony and with tears in my eyes...

"I left the place in total agony"  

Am I telling you that the people of Istanbul, the participants at the rakı-table, are sombre and sad persons? Not at all; in fact, most Istanbulu love these conversations, the saddening songs, and the rakı, which strengthens the melancholic feelings of the evening. The culture of hüzün, as described by Pamuk, therefore reveals a striking difference with my mother-culture: whereas, in my experience, people in the Netherlands tend to refrain from discussing difficult matters and confronting issues (probably the most common topic of social talk is complaining about their job) and to celebrate their weekends as a way to break away from the daily misery, the case of the rakı-table exemplifies how problems of life, unfair situations, and heart-breaking stories are part and parcel of the social discourse of Istanbul.

In short, whilst I have always been accustomed to escape from discomfort, I now was forced to embrace it. It will be a difficult task to get used, and adapt, to this cultural melancholia, but, fortunately, there is always a bottle of rakı to comfort me. Şerefe!

#6 Isparta, gülüm!

One of the central themes of 'Funerary Life in Pisidia' is identity. Quite an abstract term and difficult to comprehend in all its facets, but also very much at the heart of all communities and individuals. Identities – surely, people do not have a single identity – exist on various levels of society, from nations to villages, from sport clubs to individuals, and may be centred around a diversity of social aspects including ethnicity, family, gender, profession, religion, and ideology. Sometimes, a certain identity is deliberately chosen, sometimes a person may not have the slightest impact on acquiring one of his identities. Some identities continue to exist for several years or even centuries, but, even then, they are subject of transformations and modifications in the course of time. Other identities simply come and go, within a split second. In all its diversity, ‘identity’ is always both inclusive and exclusive; it is about both social bonds and social distinctions at the same time. Because ‘identity’ is at the core of being, it constitutes a highly delicate matter. Even in a community as diverse as the Dutch one, you do not make any friends if you carefully put the existence of a strictly delineated Dutch identity to discussion. The present Queen of the Netherlands, Maxima Zorreguieta, originating from Argentina, – did I just say diverse community? – knows all about it.

The speech of Queen of the Netherlands, Maxima Zorreguieta 

"'identity' is always both inclusive and exclusive"

In the 70s of the 20th century, Turkey experienced a turbulent period, the wounds of which still have not completely healed. The army actively interfered in Turkish politics several times, and members of oppositional parties assaulted each other. It was during this time that Süleyman Demirel started his political career. He became prime minister for several years and in 1993 he managed to become president of Turkey. Süleyman Demirel grew up in a small village called Islamköy, some 20 kilometres northeast of Isparta. In his time as a powerful figure, he actively supported his hometown and the surrounding region. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that, besides Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, you will find the name of Süleyman Demirel all around the city of Isparta. The airport and the university still carry his name and, when entering the city from the north, a statue of Süleyman Demirel salutes you. Clearly, his legacy is kept alive by the city and the district he originated from. In other words: the legacy of Süleyman Demirel has been integrated into the distinct civic identity of Isparta.

View of Isparta

Besides highlighting the relation to the former prime minister and president of Turkey, Isparta, as a city and community, also presents itself as ‘the city of roses’. Since time immemorial, the area surrounding the city is renowned for the production of these flowers. For this reason, the city has decided to place enormous, plastic sculptures of roses throughout the city. Such a sculpture also adorns the entrance to the ethnographic museum. Admittedly, these sculptures are close to hideous, but they do demonstrate the willingness of the municipal government to distinguish the city from other places in Turkey. In Isparta you will also find multiple pink coloured shops, where people can buy products like rose parfume, rose oil, and key hangers shaped like a rose. All these shops, run by individual citizens, stimulate the idea of Isparta being ‘the city of roses’. In this way, both governmental and civil initiatives actively emphasise the civic identity of Isparta. Of course, this is just part of the story: did you know that Isparta is also famous for its carpets (halı) and its white cherries (beyaz kiraz)?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A typical shop at Isparta

"both governmental and civil initiatives actively emphasise the civic identity of Isparta"

Isparta is not the only Turkish city identifying itself with a particular commodity. Almost every city has its own distinctive fruit, vegetable, textile, or any other kind of product. Therefore, one might want to create a map of Turkey, differentiating the various cities according to the product they are famous for. So, that’s what I did (thanks to the IAS-members for the information):


 Map showing several cities in Turkey and their corresponding typical commodity

Finally, we move from roses to tulips. Nowadays, as a nation, the Netherlands is eager to present itself as ‘the country of tulips’. You may even say: tulips are part of the national identity. Touristic brochures often showcase large fields of red, yellow, pink, blue and purple tulips. This cultivation of the tulip in the Netherlands has its origins in the 17th century. This century experienced a period of so-called ‘tulipmania’, in which people paid ridiculously high prices for tulip bulbs and tulips were a much-loved subject for paintings and drawings. Still, prior to the second half of the 16th century, Dutch people had not even heard of a tulip before. The tulip only made its way to Europe after an Austrian ambassador first laid his eyes on the flower whilst visiting the ruler of a certain land. Apparently, he was so impressed by the beauty of this flower that he decided to take the tulip to his home country, after which it made its way to the Netherlands as well. The ruler this ambassador paid a visit to was the Ottoman emperor Muhteşem Süleyman, and the land is modern-day Turkey.

Nowadays, tulip production has found its way back into Turkey

#5 Village Life in Pisidia

Even if you are a rookie as regards the history of Turkey, there is one person you cannot ignore: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. As the founding father of the Republic of Turkey (1923) and its first president, his name pops up everywhere in public life: names of streets and parks, stadiums and schools all proudly carry his name. Also his image can be found all around town: statues of Atatürk are located near town and village squares and his head adorns the inner walls of many residential and public buildings in the Republic he created. Thanks to Hakan, even my hat displays the signature of this man, who still is the ultimate rolemodel for many inhabitants of Turkey. 

"There is one person you cannot ignore: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk"

Many of the Turkish people I have spoken to, explain Turkey in terms of west and east. Whilst the western part has seen a gradual urbanization and an increasing number of young people find their way to the city and the educational institutions, the east mainly thrives on its farming communities. Be that as it may, also the western part is filled with numerous villages, the inhabitants of which earn their money by working the field and keeping their livestock. Tractors, parked on the sides of the streets, are found all over the place. Every morning, these tractors tow trailers, full with women and children, on their way to the farming fields. When visiting less touristic archaeological sites in Pisidia, don’t be surprised to encounter a herdsman taking his goats out for a delicious meal.

                                          Mustafa Kemal Atatürk                                                                                                                                          The farming community in Yariköy

                                                                                                                                                      Villagers in Gönen                                  

The village's public spaces form the heart of the community. These spaces at least comprise a main square including a small park as well as the local 'Pazar'. The latter consists of a huge space covered by a, not all too beautiful, metal roof work. Here, the farmers sell their products, as people flock around the numerous stalls with fruits, vegetables, spices and potatoes, clothing and other paraphernalia. In the meantime, the terraces in the parks enable people to enjoy their well-deserved rest. In the shadow of the trees, the (male) villagers, often of a respectable age, gather to have a chat, whilst enjoying a cup of tea. 'Okey' (Rummikub) and 'Tavla' (Backgammon) are the most popular games played in these environments. If you would like to break away from the rush of the city life or the burning heat of the sun, these terraces are the places where you have to go. Just take another cup of tea, and do not forget to bring your cigarettes: if not for yourself, then at least for the people around you. You will definitely make some friends, since the vast majority of the Turkish population knows how to enjoy a smoke.

"A little showcase of local village history"

If you ever end up in one of these villages, please check out the archaeological material (often dating to the Roman period) in the little parks. If it has not been transferred to neighbouring museums, the locally discovered material is often lined up around the central spaces: a little showcase of local village history. In addition, throughout the centuries after Roman dominion, people have reused the Roman remains as building material, for their bath houses and residences for instance. In archaeological and art-historical discourse, these reused stones are referred to as 'spolia'. Just walk around the village, have a look at the walls and you will recognize multiple Roman columns, architectural elements, funerary stones and the like, built into the wall in one way or another. The historical heritage of Turkey is all around..

                                            The Pazar of Burdur                                                                                                    Humzah in front of a house at Yariköy. A Roman funerary altar is visible at the bottom corner                                                                                                              


#4 Onbir ayın sultanı

“Allahu akbar, allahu akbar!” Even people in the Netherlands are familiar with this phrase. Five times a day, the cities and villages of Turkey are dominated by the singing of a municipal official. From the top of the minaret, this man reminds the people that it is time for prayer. In small villages, also information about the food that is for sale at the ‘Pazar’, delicious watermelons from Adana for instance, stems from the same minarets. During the month of Ramadan, the announcement that people can eat again around 8:30pm is accompanied by a huge bang. This explosion is especially impressive in quiet villages and even Turkish people might still be shocked, when the silence gets disrupted.

"Even Turkish people might still be shocked"

The past month was ‘Ramazan’, ‘onbir ayın sultanı’, the eleventh month of the Islamic calendar, the Sultan of the months, the most important time of the year for Muslims worldwide. Traditionally, Muslims refrain from eating between sunrise and sunset in order to show their compassion with the poor. It means no food and no drinks during the day; but, in smaller towns and villages, it also means that some restaurants only start serving dinner at 8:30pm and, certainly, do not sell alcoholic beverages. For people that do not have a lot of money, the municipal government organizes huge banquets that are massively attended, causing separate waiting cues for men and women. However, Turkey is not solely inhabited by pious Muslims and these regulations do not exist in every place. Especially, in the bigger cities and touristic places like Antalya, you will have no problem finding a place to eat or drink a beer. Aside from the touristic places, also some Turkish people have a quite pragmatic approach to the days of ‘Ramazan’. After all, they still have to work, with temperatures around 30 or 40 degrees. Sometimes it is simply not possible to carry out your work without having a drink or something to eat.

Related to the eleventh month is an event that is celebrated by every one of the Turkish people: Bayram, the first three days after ‘Ramazan’, during which people may eat again during daytime. A time that might be compared to the celebration of Christmas in western countries. Just before Bayram, Turkey experiences a massive migration of people, as everyone travels to their families. Since family is at the heart of Turkish life, this time of the year is very important. Families get together, wish each other ‘Iyi bayramlar’, spend a lot of time together, and, of course, eat a lot of delicious foods.

                         The entrance to Arica Çiftlik                                                                                                                                    Sencer and his parents in front of their restaurant at Duacıköy

I was invited to spend Bayram with the family of Sencer. His family has a restaurant at Duacıköy, close to Antalya. Its name: Arica Çiftlik (Arica Farm). They keep their own animals (chickens, rabbits, gooses) and grow their own vegetables and fruits (tomatoes, grapes, ‘semizotu’). One evening, there was a Turkish wedding at the farm. Like other weddings, Turkish weddings mean: lots of foods, drinks, and, of course, music. The musical repertoire mainly entails Turkish folk music and Turkish traditional dances, that are exhibited already during dinner. Without knowing anybody at the wedding, I was almost forced to put my feet up from the ground. Within seconds I was dancing amidst the wedding guests. In the traditional Turkish way, of course: holding your arms somewhat stretched to the sides, whilst snapping your fingers.       

"No wonder the women at a Turkish wedding look so incredibly beautiful"

Traditionally, Turkish weddings are not solely the celebration of a new ‘husband and wife’, they also form the perfect occasions for young single men and women to find their future partner. No wonder the women at a Turkish wedding look so incredibly beautiful, whilst wearing the most elegant dresses. But, be careful: the male relatives of these women are watching you closely, and might not be all too happy with your efforts to capture their daughter’s or sister’s heart.


Ankaranın Bağları, probably the most famous and popular wedding song. Do not be surprised, when you hear this song seven times at one wedding feast


#3 Teşekkürler

The first two weeks of my stay in Turkey I spent my time with the members of the Isparta Archaeological Survey-team. They are the ones who introduced me to Turkey: they showed me how to pour tea in a glass the Turkish way (adding water to half a glass of very strong tea); they had me eating bull’s hearts and ‘güllaç’ and drinking ‘ayran’ and ‘rakı’; ; they taught me how to say 'Tamam, Hocam!' humbly; they also taught me how to say ‘keçi boku’; they showed me how to eat two green peppers at once; they demonstrated me where to put your cigarettes, when there is no ashtray around and you are not allowed to drop it on the floor; and they informed me that the daily explosion was not some kind of terrorist attack, but a traditional manner to announce that people may start eating again during the days of ‘Ramazan’; but most of all: they gave me the experience of Turkish kindness and hospitality. It is to them that I devote this blog: teşekkürler!



          Dr. Bilge Hürmüzlü                         Özgür Perçin                              Dr. Ayça Gerçek                              Hakan Gerçek 



            Uygar Hecebil                               Utku Arinç                                  Çağatay Çelik                               Meltem Ayaşan



         Sencer Ölmez                               Ferhat Mendeş                               Cemre Yürükel                                 Benan Bozan



                Kaner Alp                                    Ilker Günaydın                                  Faden Hanım                                   Gaya


#2 Don't bullshit, Osman!

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...


#1 Dogs and aliens

“Don’t move!”, they told me. In any other situation, I would have been happy to hear this order. This morning, I had had to get up early to be in time for the breakfast, at 06:00. And now, only one hour later, Hakan, Uygar, Utku and I were climbing a hill that overlooks the town of Gönen (Isparta, Turkey). Packed with bags, water bottles, food baskets as well as drawing and measuring equipment, we walked uphill, as we do so almost every day. According to my sleepy eyes and tired legs due to the work and football match of the day before, I should have been thrilled that I could stop on my way up and get a rest for a while. But I wasn’t...

Names like Cerberus or Monster of Kale Tepe hardly do justice to his impressive appearance

An enormous creature was suddenly standing in front of us. It had the size of a tiger, his eyes were orange and a belt with giant spikes adorned his neck. Growlingly, he walked around us, step by step. He sniffed, as if he could smell our cold sweat. Names like Cerberus or Monster of Kale Tepe hardly do justice to his impressive appearance and the dimensions of his head. The beast turned out to be the chief dog – there were four dogs in total – guarding a herd of goats. No herdsman was around, only the dogs. We only had ourselves to defend. After a first impression, the dog turned his big head to Utku and sniffed at him. Was he going to attack him, or eat him maybe? Or was he looking for a hug? The only thing we could think of to help Utku in some way: “Don’t move!” 

Utku and the Monster of Kale Tepe

It was only my third day in Turkey, when this monster of a dog came into my life. And it was my second day of participating in the Isparta Archaeological Survey – project (IAS-project), directed by Dr. Bilge Hürmüzlü of the Süleyman Demirel Üniversitesi in Isparta. The project team consists of a number of students and researchers affiliated to the same university and a representative of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Upon arrival, I was welcomed with great hospitality and kindness by any one of them. My first blog seems to me a good opportunity to express my gratitude: thanks to them, the first two weeks of my stay in Turkey were unforgettable.


The team of the IAS-project at work on Kale Tepe.
Foreground: fortification wall; background (to the right): the village of Gönen

This year, the IAS-project put its focus on Kale Tepe (Castle Hill), the hill that was the scene of our encounter with the dog. Kale Tepe was once the site of a Hellenistic city, surrounded by a fortification wall several parts of which are still visible today. Especially the entrance gate and the eastern wall still reveal the wall’s overwhelming massiveness, that can only have been much greater when it was in use. When looking around from atop the hill, the strategic importance of this location is easily recognized. Drawings and measurements of the fortification wall as well as the tower, situated on the ultimate summit of Kale Tepe, and an archaeological survey of the city’s territory aim to increase our knowledge and understanding of this Hellenistic site. For similar purposes, the team has acquired its own remote controlled helicopter. The camera, that is attached to it, is able to make detailed overview pictures and videos of the wall, its towers and gates. Note to the non-specialist reader: indeed, besides the famous and stereotype activities of digging and excavating, archaeologists nowadays work with a variety of methods to investigate the material heritage of past societies: from archaeological surveying and DNA-analysis (for instance: of bone material) to the use of sophisticated measuring equipment (Total Station) and satellite photography.

"Was this truly an Unidentified Flying Object?"

Our own UFO during the test flight

The actual use of our remote controlled helicopter needed to be preceded by several test flights. In the dark of the evening, the entire team gathered together to watch the first ‘steps’ of the little helicopter. We were ready for take-off. Like a bird in the sky, the machine flew away, quickly increasing in height and distance. Eyes focused on the sky, the team ran after the flying object. Its red and green lights lit up the darkness and its sound, to a certain degree, disturbed the silence in the village of Gönen. It must have been a strange sight for Gönen’s inhabitants: a green-red thing, followed by a group of archaeologists trying to get a hold of it. “What was this thing anyways?”, you could hear them think. “Was this truly an Unidentified Flying Object, signifying the prelude of an alien invasion?” Fortunately for us, we managed to safely return the flying object to its home. However, the people of Gönen might have been as frightened by ‘our UFO’ as we had been by the Monster of Kale Tepe.