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Time Turns Slowly: Our life on the Konya Plain

August 21, 2013 10:03 am 0 comments

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Time slows down on the Konya Plain. We do not measure the passing of time by days but rather by the slow blooming and browning of the fields of sunflowers. When we first began our season here at Boncuklu Höyük we were surrounded by an ocean of green and yellow, the lazy oceans of gold which turned towards the morning sun. Slowly but surely, these rows of flowers have bowed down, turned black and now lie sunken in the fields. Each day has merged into the next, until we turn to each other and ask ‘Has it really been four weeks?’. This is Konya time, where those coming from the rush-rush-rush of modern living can find it difficult to just slow down. Things don’t always happen quickly, though they do happen. The water may not always run, the electricity may unexpectedly shut off and a short outing is never simple. There is no need to wear a watch on site, whether out in the trenches or hidden in the labs, we all take our time from the latest call to prayer.

BK13 Michelle 30-07 0228While we live a sort of timeless existence out here, it would be wrong to say we’re lazing through the days. Each evening the volunteers trudge back to the compound exhausted and satisfied, filled to bursting with new stories, interesting finds from site and new experiences. Those in the labs duck in and out of the rooms, questions and discussion constant and complicated. We are all included in the greatest of achievements, the successful removal of a difficult sample, a new and tricky burial discovery and question on the latest intricacies from each trench. The specialists enthusiastically answer every question put to them by eager undergraduates and volunteers who wish to learn more.

BK13 H Village 006We live on the outskirts of a traditional Turkish Village called Hayrioğlu. The houses, sheds and storage buildings are most commonly made of mudbricks, a worldwide, simple and adaptable technique which has been used from antiquity through to modern day. The winters in this area of Turkey are freezing and unforgiving and these mudbrick houses have good insulation against the low temperatures. Unfortunately with such harsh conditions throughout the year, the buildings do not last for long and must be constantly renewed. Often families choose to abandon their older homes to nature and simply build a new home next door.

BK13 H Village 007These mudbrick houses are a good example of how people have adapted to the limited range of natural resources found on the plain. With few trees to burn and electricity and gas so expensive, the villagers turn to a sustainable heat source: manure. Large herds of cattle are raised on the plain for meat, milk and manure. Their dung is dried in mounds over the summer before being moulded into bricks and used throughout the winter.

BK13 H Village 005Many of the volunteers make a daily trek to the village shop for the necessities, chips, chocolate and ice-cream. They walk through the village, past gaggles of geese, rafters of turkeys and broods of chickens. Many of the local sights include mounds of dung cakes, kids on motorbikes and the local sheep dogs, kangals. These enormous canines are bred to protect the flocks of sheep from other wild dogs, wolves and cars. Yes they do tend to attack cars. Armed with their own home made spiky collars these dogs can sometimes be a little overprotective and frightening, but Mustafa the site guard’s kangal, Karabaş is friendly and caring.

BK13 Michelle 30-07 0241This remarkable but isolated village is home to about 1000 people who live very different lives to the forty archaeologists who share this patch of Turkey for two months of the year. We are welcomed back each year and honoured to call this place our home.

Here are a few snaps of the village, and daily life here on the Konya Plain.

Written by Julia Moloney (Camp Manager, BK Project)

 

 

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