August 21-30, 2005
The last one and a half weeks of the season were as usual very hectic for everybody. We have tried to obtain as much evidence as possible from the excavations so we can study the material during the nine months before next season. Those working on the anastylosis projects tried to show an as complete picture as possible of their buildings, and sampling procedures and final reports had to be written, including this somewhat belated website report. In such circumstances, we have to remain very careful in order to avoid potential accidents or too much stress. Our safety, however, was in the safe hands of retired safety manager Roland Vandenborre, who came for the third time, and medical doctor Ann Vandevelde looked after our health. As I realized myself, some small things can sometimes have rather unpleasant consequences. As mentioned in the previous report (see August 14-18 below), both our village and the site this year are facing a real invasion of wasps. While working at home I was stung by one of them in my right arm, only then realizing that I had reacted very severely to that kind of sting on the last such occasion more than twenty years ago, suggesting I was allergic to wasps. The bad thing is that the reaction becomes stronger with every new sting. Within five minutes, I developed a high temperature, red blisters, and an unbearable itching of the skin. A kind of panic developed in the excavation house, and eventually someone decided to call the doctor. My loyal driver, Ahmet Satilmis, panicked even more at the news and drove her down in 4.5 minutes instead of the usual fifteen. He thus broke his own record, as the week before it had taken him 5 minutes to bring Eva Leplat back to the excavation house after a scorpion stung her. Later she declared to have been more terrified by the transport than by her scorpion sting. My symptoms disappeared a few hours after an injection, but my workmen kept calling every hour to ask about my situation and a delegation came to check up on me in my bedroom in the evening to be reassured. When I turned up on the site the next day, the conservation team started to sing and dance to express their gratitude for my quick recovery.
The week before our last one is also the best time to visit us, as most trenches show the final results before being partially or completely covered for the winter months. Therefore, beside the large Arco Group of nearly 30 people who arrived on August 27, we had the extreme pleasure of receiving for the second time in two years the visit on on Tuesday, August 23, of Mr. Louis Tobback, the very popular mayor of our beloved city of Leuven, for years a minister in the federal government and still one of the leading politicians in Belgium, accompanied by his good friend Prof. Vic Goedseels, just retired as general administrator of our university.
Thursday, August 25, was the last normal working day of the excavations. It has become a kind of tradition to throw everybody in the small water pool at the entrance of the site on this occasion. Nearly a hundred male workmen, architects, and archaeologists ended up in the pool, accompanied by the encouragements of our haremlik (female part of the house) acting as cheerleaders. Only three of the male members present on the site escaped this water festival--two fled, whereas one, Ahmet Ay, climbed into a tree. All of this illustrates the extraordinary atmosphere which characterized this season. There was no difference between nationalities, no real hierarchy between academics, students, and workmen. We just formed one big family, feeling like family members as well, working very hard nine hours a day, sometimes even skipping weekends, but making a lot of jokes among one another.
|Archaeologist Mustafa Kiremitçi ends up in the pool, our haremlik enjoys the water festival, and Ahmet Ay escapes into a tree.
On Wednesday evening the excavation director set off for an individual goodbye with each of the workmen. These people through their uncalculated hospitality, friendship, and warmth (they call me their "father") have restored me more than any medication after I had left for Turkey against medical advice "at my own risk." This turned out to be a very emotional and even tearful event, but it is one of the moments I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Later that evening, there was a farewell diner in honor of Mustafa and Kamile Kantekin, who have cooked delicious meals for us nearly three months. I left the site in the late afternoon the day after to give my 385th lecture on Sagalassos since the start of the excavations, this time for the Antalya Kaleiçi Rotary Club. The next morning my alarm clock sounded at quarter to three in the morning in order to catch an early flight back home (?) to Belgium. When the plane took off, all I sensed was an enormous feeling of gratitude towards my team, my two temsilcis (representatives of the Ministry of Culture) Sabri Bey and Orhan Bey, and my workmen, whom I do consider my children.
August 14-18, 2005
Last week was our sixth of the excavation season that started on July 10. The arrival of our photographer Bruno Vandermeulen, who in the two weeks of his stay will produce thousands of digital pictures of our small finds, signalled that the end of the campaign is approaching. This was also noticeable in the arrival of the last people responsible for our safety and health--safety manager Roland Van Den Borre, who has come here for years as a volunteer, and medical doctor Ann Van De Velde, who is here on her first trip. During the first week of her stay, the latter was confronted with a situation she had never met before: a scorpion sting. On Tuesday, our dedicated stone carver Eva Leplat put down her headscarf for lunch. When she tried to tie it on again, sitting high on the scaffolding of the Antonine Nymphaeum where she is completing the decoration of the second archivolt, she thought she was being stung by one of the hundreds of wasps chasing us this year. The heavy pain and an inspection of the scarf, however, proved something else, a small scorpion that had stung her right in the upper part of her neck. Brave as she is, she did not panic at all, so that our doctor could inject her with the appropriate antiserum. A few hours later she was smiling again and joining us for dinner. The other major inconvenience this week, was the continuous heat wave that even turned the ends of our second crane operator Süleyman Ayan's scarf into upstanding "curls," making him look a bit like one of our many Medusas.
The final weeks usually produce a steady flow of visitors, as this is the period when most results are still visible before being covered in view of the harsh winter climate. On Monday, we had the honor to receive a visit from our most dedicated supporter, Mrs. Lieve Baert, member of the L. Baert-Hofman family, who for more than ten years has provided us with financial help for the reconstruction of the Antonine Nymphaeum. It was her eighth visit to the site, this time accompanied by one of her daughters Christine, and her only grandchild, Gil, all of them joined by nearly 20 good friends. A day later, we got the second television crew of this season, this time the Flemish public cultural station Canvas. Under the scientific supervision of our colleague Manuel Sintubin (KULeuven), for years a member of our team and a respected seismologist, they came to film a movie about the effect of earthquakes on human societies, for which Sagalassos offers ample evidence. The film will be part of the scientific series Overleven, or Surviving, which is something we all try to achieve toward the end of a two-month season.
|Left to right: our new medical doctor Ann Van De Velde; our new safety manager, Roland Van Den Borre, helping evacuate 2001 fill from the small pool of the "central hall"; Süleyman Ayan's scarf curling up in the heat, and Mrs. Lieve Baert (second from right) with her daughter Christine and granddaughter Gil, listening to Semih Ercan|
August 7-11, 2005
As we realized that we are already past the fifth of the seven and a half weeks of excavations, it became suddenly clear how quickly time has passed. It also made me realize as an excavation director, how I had changed myself in a mere five weeks. I arrived here on July 9th as a depressed, nervous wreck after what had been my annus horibilis (my most terrible year). I had undergone prostate surgery only four weeks before and could only walk with the help of a cane after spending nearly three months in hospital and at home with two bad spinal disks and three others on the point of bursting. Even the day before I left, the doctors strongly urged me not to come, but there was no other choice. As I had written before in a small Dutch booklet about Sagalassos, all strong emotions in my life, both the positive and the negative ones, are directly connected in one way or another to this marvelous site. And, after one week on the site my mental exhaustion was gone thanks to the warmth and the support of my younger collaborators, whose dedication I may not have sufficiently noticed in the past, my two wonderful temsilcis (represtentatives of the Ministry of Culture), Sabri Bey and Orhan Bey, and especially my workmen, who call me their father or elder brother, even congratulating me on the phone on Turkish Father's Day. The very strong link I have with those pure and honest people without any calculation in their behavior and whom, in fact, I do consider as my children, were a balm on my wounds and a miraculous medicine. I even start to walk without a stick now and hope to leave it behind in the weeks ahead of me. In fact, I do not want to be called the grandfather who cannot walk or the aged man with mobility problems, when I am wheeled away from one terminal to the other at Istanbul Airport.
I was also touched a lot by the dedication of some of the newcomers, as for instance our physician, Else Gijsels, who most of the time, as she helped to excavate the skeletons near the Apollo Klarios Temple, looked like a creature coming out of space or from the surgery room of Dr. Bob in the Muppet Show. Jan Thiels also continued to take care of the flow of visitors, which has more than tripled since last year. Yet, the most important visitors for me were Bilal and Zehra Satilmis, children of my faithful driver Ahmet, who came to the site to thank me for the toys I had brought them from Belgium the week before.
|Left, Bilal and Zehra Satilmis paid us a visit at the Apollo Klarios shrine, Right, the glamorous "night life" at the excavation house: Nerina gets a haircut.
In the mean time, life in the excavation house was business (and work) as usual. Nerina da Silva's haircut by Semra Mágele was a remarkable exception upon which I do not want to comment. Our household (of more than a hundred academics and students) is also growing both on the site and in the excavation house, by respectively our new dog Stones (called after his favorite kind of food; Plastic would have been a good alternative) and our kitten Pardoes, who gradually is taking on some weight, which unfortunately I cannot shed. Another remarkable meeting occurred on the Upper Agora. Five years ago a small land turtle had gotten some Epoxy resin on its shield. This week, it came to visit us again with the Epoxy resin still firmly attached to it. This is the best guarantee of the kind of glue we use for our anastylosis projects.
July 31-August 4, 2005
Last week, we were not only suffering from extensive heat in the afternoon, but also especially from continuous wind gusts causing small dust storms forcing most people to wear protective glasses. Our newly arrived doctor Else Gijsels was kept busy cleaning and disinfecting eyes, but still found the time to assist our topographers as well, holding the pole with the reflecting prism. The wind also found easy victims in the various sponsors' flags hanging throughout the site. So, Ahmet Satilmis, the director's loyal and caring driver, not only helped him carrying things, which has become a necessity since a double knee operation, but also had to show his commando skills while unfolding the flags again, at several occasions.
This week, we also had very sadly to say goodbye to Dirk Menten and his wife Ilse De Smedt, our volunteer guides, who for nearly a month have taken around hundreds of tourists with an endless enthusiasm. For the past week they were assisted by Jan Thiels, who is now continuing their job. Our second safety manager Josse Van Neck also left us, together with Luc Vanhaverbeke, who had taken care of our logistics for nearly five weeks. During the last two weeks he taught newcomer Anouck Brouwers how to take over. Despite several departures (among others, Bekir Eskici has now been replaced by Hande Kökten as head of the site conservation team), we also had newcomers over the weekend, as well as lots of visitors during the week.
A very emotional reunion occurred on Wednesday, when Ludo Standaert, who for more than a decade since the early 1990s had been our first on-site medical doctor came back after nearly four years for a visit together with his always optimistic wife Elisabeth, three of their four sons, and all their in-laws and grandchildren. Now the whole family could witness, why "Ludo Bey," as he was called here, returned year after year like a bee attracted to a honey pot. The very same day, the director's niece and godchild Nele Vyvey-Vanthuyne and her husband Dries Vyvey joined us for the first time with their two oldest children, Maarten and Ruben. By a mere coincidence Maarten visited the site studied by his grand-uncle on his sixth birthday, so that over lunch there was an opportunity to enjoy ice cream elegantly offered to him by Fevza Kantekin, daughter of our cook and housekeeper Mustafa Kantekin.
|Left, the director's niece Nele Vanthuyne with her two eldest children and husband Dries Vyvey visiting the site for the first time. Right, Fevza Kantekin offering a birthday ice cream to Maarten Vyvey with his younger brother Ruben sitting next to him
July 24-28, 2005
This third week was rather uneventful. The electrical shocks in the director's shower continued to increase so that our new safety manager, Josse Van Neck (KULeuven) eventually connected the earth of the boiler with the metal parts of the shower itself. The biggest noise came Wednesday, when our doctor, Jan Cardyn, fell out of his bed in the middle of the night, knocking over the rest of his sparse furniture. A week ago he had found his room completely flooded while coming home in the evening.
Sometimes life can also be full of surprises. On Wednesday, Pinar Ozdemir, corporate communication assistant of Aygaz came to visit the site with her family. Aygaz is one of the holdings of the Koç family, one of Turkey's three most important families, which supports the anastylosis of the Antonine Nymphaeum. The family is our first big Turkish sponsor, which fills us with pride and gratitude, In Turkish, "koç" means "ram." And exactly two seconds before Pinar Ozdemir reached the Macellum, our beautiful ram's head and fruit garland emerged from the soil as if this had been planned in advance.
|Slovenian geophysicists Igor and Lucia, left, playing cards in the garden. The conservation team's consumed bottles, right, were found hidden behind a tree.
This Saturday morning our doctor Jan Cardyn and Bea Vandemeulebroecke, who together with her husband Luc Vanhaverbeke had been taking care of our logistics in a magnificently quiet, friendly, and efficient way, left us at 6:30 in the morning to catch their flight back to Brussels. For the rest, the weekend was very quiet with those who did not venture to the burning beaches around Antalya, writing up their reports, relaxing and playing cards, or trying to hide their drinking habits.
July 17-21, 2005
Life in and around the excavation house has gradually become routine. This year started off quickly, as if we had just left the site the day before. At the moment, our scientific staff and students, coming from a dozen of countries (the majority from Turkey) has grown to 74. Our common language is English, so that nobody should feel excluded. One of the most rewarding things for me as excavation director is seeing the perfect harmony between so many nationalities, disciplines, and academic hierarchies. At the dinner table, there is no grouping, but people sit completely mixed without any concentration of language, national group, or discipline at the table, exchanging lively conversations. In this world full of ethnic and religious hatred and intolerance, our community here shows that a multicultural society is nothing to be afraid of and in reality is very enriching. The same familiarity and warmth also links the researchers and students with our workmen. Most of the archaeologists eat with their workmen, inviting them in return once in a while for a dinner outside. There is very hard work, but also a lot of jokes. This week, for instance, the chief of our workmen, Ali Toprak, was thought to behave as JR in the old television show Dallas.
|Ali Toprak transformed into a Texas oil baron|
As usual, we had some birthdays as well. Bart Degraeve's, on July 19, coincided with a dinner party offered by the mayor of Aglasun, Vedat Eraslan, to the whole team in the not-yet-opened Hamam Restaurant, built in a late Ottoman Turkish bath that had later been turned into a small prison. The central room with its cupola is now a real discotheque and the bar fills several spaces.
We've also had a number of important or really "high" visitors. On Sunday, July 17, the new Belgian ambassador at Ankara, Marc Van Rysselberghe, accompanied by two embassy staff members--Laurence and Hubert Roisin--visited Sagalassos for the first time. We sincerely hope that this will be repeated in future years. On the 23rd, the governor of Burdur, Can Direkci came to visit the site to show it to Hidayet Turkoglu. The latter, who just finished his military duty in Burdur, is the first Turkish-born NBA basketball player, and is currently playing for the Orlando Magic (USA). Other members of the company included Vehbi Bakir, district governor, or kaymakam, of Aglasun and Haci Ali Ekinci, director of the Burdur Museum.
July 10-14, 2005
This week started off almost immediately, with a full house composed of 62 academics and students of various disciplines, besides two temsilcis (representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism), Sabri Aydal (Antalya Museum) and Orhan Köse (Fethiye Museum), respectively responsible for the activities on the site and for those in the city's territory. The first days were spent on the annual bureaucratic steps to be undertaken before one can start, including a visit to the governor of Burdur, Can Direkçi, the local kaymakam and the mayor of Aglasun, as well as the acquisition of the necessary residence and working permits for the foreign members of the team.
Our safety was again in the most careful hands of safety engineer Luc Karremans and our health in those of Dr. Jan Cardyn. Life would be impossible here without the logistics carried out for a third year by Luc and Bea Vanhaverbeke. An increasing number of tourists left the site in high spirits, thanks to the enthusiasm of our guides Dirk and Ilse Menten. The tourists included two small buses with students from Australia under the supervision of Rosalind Kearsley (MacQuarrie University, Sydney) and Ann Geddes (University of Adelaïde). This made for a very welcome reunion with the excavation director, who lectured in the fall of 2004 as visiting professor of the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens at various Australian universities, returning home from that experience full of good memories.
During the first week of 2003, the excavation director had his "Indiana Jones" moment, when he was attacked by a horned viper. This year the attacks, almost daily, came from a kind of flying ant, which every morning covered him completely, apparently liking the sun cream he uses (which we will not name in order to avoid legal proceedings later). But a real "electrical" moment came on Wednesday evening, when after a power cut lasting several hours, the earth of his bathroom boiler, which was apparently fixed around the plumbing, passed the remaining electrical power to the plumbing causing several electric shocks while he was taken a shower. In my youth, archaeology figured among the "dangerous" professions. Reality seems to be very close to this!
|Flying ants covered not only the exposed skin every morning, but also the hat and clothes of the excavation director.|
See daily life 2004