Last year, Bilkent Archaeology Day explored the theme of colors in antiquity. This year’s event, which took place on April 8, focused on a single color, but a symbolic one: green, since the event was titled “The Environmental Challenge: Views and Lessons From Antiquity.”
“The pandemic has certainly made us even more sensitive to climate change, showing as it has, even in some aspects of daily life, how human
actions have affected our planet,” observed Prof. Dominique Kassab Tezgör, chair of the Department of Archaeology. “For example, we all remember during the first lockdown how blue the sky was in Ankara, or how animals that would never venture out in big cities could now be encountered there; we saw photos of goats and sheep ambling along the deserted highway to the İstanbul airport or ducks walking in front of the Paris Opera, while the streets were empty of cars and pedestrians.”
To focus on the issues of climate change and sustainability, Bilkent
University designated the 2021–22 academic year as “Sustainability Year.” In this context, and given the fact that change and sustainability are in a sense the essence of the field of archaeology, the Department of Archaeology decided to dedicate this year’s Archaeology Day to exploring those concepts as manifested over time.
On April 8, an audience of more than one hundred attendees listened as students and scholars examined the ways in which the environment has been exploited since the first human settlements, and how in various instances it was preserved, or ruined; in other words, the ways in which the occupants of different geographical areas, at different periods, created the landscapes where they lived, and how their actions shaped their surroundings positively or negatively.
As in previous years, the Bilkent Archaeology Club organized the morning program, with students presenting papers on topics relating to this year’s theme. In the afternoon, the Department of Archaeology welcomed scholars from Edinburgh, Groningen, Chicago and Jerusalem. Along with colleagues from the Bilkent department, they presented current research that may help lead to a better understanding of the landscape of present-day Anatolia and also provide some insights as to how it might be sustained.
“We hope that these presentations on landscape and sustainability in antiquity will be a source of inspiration for further research,” said Prof. Kassab Tezgör. “The challenge of preserving our environment requires ongoing investigation as well as firm commitment.”