7 Weeks at IMS-FORTH

Thanks to a research grant from ArchaeoLandscapes Europe, I am in the midst of a 7-week internship with GeoSat ReSeArch at the Institute for Mediterranean Studies – FORTH (go ahead, like ’em on Facebook). This is my third trip to the institute, which is located in beautiful and balmy Rethymno, Crete.

Rethymno, Crete

There are only couple of weeks left before I head back to the Greek mainland, but it’s been a successful visit so far. My main goals include:

  • Use satellite imagery and aerial photos to identify abandoned settlements and road systems in the Mani peninsula. I have been working on this project for a while, combining information from modern road-maps and even historical records to find all of the possible Late Byzantine (A.D. 1204-1460) and Ottoman-period (A.D. 1460-1821) settlements in the region. This is the final phase – finding anything that I’ve missed thus far. No settlements will go unfound!
  • Work with the Ottoman historians next door to translate five imperial tax registers, which were recorded between A.D. 1583-1715. During a trip to Istanbul in August 2013, I stopped by the Başbakanlık General Directorate of State Archives and requested all of the archival records on Mani (for more information, check out this blog). As I’ve mentioned before, the records are written in Medieval Turkish, and only a few people in the world can translate these documents. Thankfully, I have an awesome colleague here at IMS-FORTH who is helping me with this project, and I also secured some research funding from my home university (UIC) to pay for the translation.
  • Prepare to start my dissertation research in mid-March. One of the not-so-glorious sides of archaeological projects is all of the preparation leading up the actual fieldwork – finding accommodation, renting vehicles, purchasing supplies. My biggest challenge has been adapting the data-entry method I’ve used on previous archaeological projects so that I am ready to start recording data as soon as I arrive. Specifically, this means developing a FileMaker Pro database and loading it onto an iPad that I will bring into the field.
FMP_BOSS_Database

Screenshot from the brand-new BOSS FileMaker Pro database

By the way, my project has been christened the “Byzantine and Ottoman Settlement Study,” or BOSS for short. A project doesn’t need an awesome acronym to be successful, but it can’t hurt.

The GeoSat ReSeArch group at IMS-FORTH is home to a number of world-renowned specialists in geophysics and remote-sensing technologies. There are so many fabulous people in residence at the moment that the institute  decided to put on a two-week-long workshop, called the REmote Sensing Technologies in Cultural Heritage Workshop (RESTeCH, for short). I gave a talk on February 20 about my upcoming fieldwork in the Mani peninsula, and about how I am combining the fields of history, remote-sensing, and archaeology to figure out what was going on there during Ottoman rule. The talk was also a nice opportunity to unveil my strategy for field-recording and get some constructive feedback from the audience.

In addition to all these tasks, I’ve spent many hours in the local hospital trying to get my hands on a health certificate so that I can apply for a residency permit. As with all the countries in the Schengen area, U.S. citizens are not allowed to for more than 90 days in any given 6-month period. If you want to stay longer, you need a residency permit. Needless to say, it has been an interesting and oh-so-fun process.

Where I am now:

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3 thoughts on “7 Weeks at IMS-FORTH

  1. Cool stuff! So how does it work at the state archives in Istanbul? Do you just ask them for all the documents that deal with the Mani and they copy them and give them to you?

    • During your first visit to the archive, you need to meet with a staff member who can issue you a reader badge. Certain papers need to be signed, passport scanned, and so on. After that, you are free to use the various reading rooms and catalog system. The librarian/archivist on staff can help you locate documents in the catalog, view the digital versions, and then burn them as image files to a CD. There is a very small fee for the data delivery service.

      When I visited the archives, I had already prepared a list of the documents to request. There is an online catalog search that can be used to find documents (http://www.devletarsivleri.gov.tr/katalog/), but I haven’t found it to be particularly helpful. The archive also publishes indices that list the documents that have been digitized already – this is what I used to find the sources on Mani. I am not quite sure how to find material about a region if it hasn’t been digitized yet. Presumably you can search for documents at the archive, but it would be extremely helpful to know a bit of Turkish (or have a Turkish-speaking colleague on hand).

      Here is the source that refers to the Mani documents: Başbakanlık General Directorate of State Archives. 2007. Number 367, Accounting Book of the Eastern Provinces with the Province of Rûm, and Numbers 114, 390 and 101, Icmal Defters Vol. 1: Karlı-ili, Agrıboz, Mora, Rodos and Tırhala Livâları, Issue No. 89. Ankara: Directorate of Ottoman Archives.

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