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x0x From ancient history to ecological efficiency:
one decision, two results
Friday, October 24, 2008
The Kerkenes Project has been carried out to uncover
the history of the ancient city situated on top of
Mount Kerkenes in the central Anatolian city of Yozgat.
The latest discoveries in the region have gone on
display in the Kerkenes Room of Yozgat Museum
YOZGAT - Turkish Daily News
A couple with two children and a car with a steering
wheel on the right is how British archaeologist
Geoffrey Summers described himself and his family at
the beginning of their journey through history, which
started in the central province of Yozgat.
What brought them to the heart of the country is
Kerkenes, an Iron Age capital that was presumably
founded in the late seventh century B.C. and later
dissolved into ashes.
Summers and his wife, Francoise, are both instructors
at Middle East Technical University, or METU, and
directors of the Kerkenes Project, which began in 1993.
When the mystery of this ancient city attracted
Summers, who is interested in Anatolian civilizations,
his wife had to follow him, as she described it,
during a panel held last weekend.
I am often thought of as an archeologist. In spite
of all the archeological works I have done with my
husband, I am an architect, she said. That is why she
decided to pursue research relevant to her own field of
study when she was also included in the project. She
pioneered the establishment of an eco-center in the
Sahmuratli village of Yozgat, where Mount Kerkenes is
Thus, one decision by Geoffrey Summers paved the way
for two different stories. While the Kerkenes Mount
Project started to yield results by unearthing
artifacts of ancient civilizations, the Kerkenes
Eco-Center Project created a kind of magical world
inside the small village, where jams are cooked on
solar cookers and bottles are used for roof
Lost city' lies in silence
The Kerkenes Project was conducted to reveal the
history of the ancient city that is situated on the top
of the Kerkenes Mountain. As a result of the
discoveries, they uncovered is the ancient city Pteria
of Herodotus, which was thought to be lost.
A 2004 report on the excavations strengthened the
hypothesis they had uncovered the famous lost city
since the artifacts found in the region are peculiar to
the Phrygian culture. According to Greek historian
Herodotus, the Battle of Pteria between the Lydians and
Cyrus the Great of Persia led the city to destruction.
This great city was sacked, the seven kilometer
defensive wall was destroyed and the city was
abandoned, Summers said.
Indeed the region that is thought to be Pteria is
covered with silence at present and there is nothing
except the remnants of the walls in sight. As Von der
Osten, who drew a map of the city defenses in 1928,
wrote: The great expanse of ruins, once teeming with
life and resounding with the voices of a powerful
people who dominated most of Asia Minor, now lies mute
The Kerkenes excavations have been conducted by the
British Institute of Archeology and METU.
Archeological findings create Kerkenes Room'
The latest discoveries in the region opened for
exhibition in the Kerkenes Room of Yozgat Museum late
The opening ceremony for the exhibition included the
participation of the British, Canadian and Australian
ambassadors to Ankara and local officials. While the
controversial history of the city attracts many people
from all over the world, Summers stressed the
importance of Kerkenes both for archeologists and
Eco-center an example of local consciousness
The Kerkenes Eco-Center, which was constructed in
2002 with the help of the Australian Embassy direct aid
program, is situated at the foot of the Kerkenes
Guests who come to visit the ancient city also drop
in on the eco-center. Those who are captivated by the
silence of the city can come back to life through the
liveliness of the center. What first impresses one at
the eco-center is the natural feel of the equipment,
buildings and people.
Everything is simple but useful. For those who have
grown accustomed to living in a high-tech environment,
particularly from big cities, the natural course of
life displayed at the center is a new discovery. The
center makes use of a huge range of materials, ranging
from wastepaper to tires, and uses everything
The goals of the eco-center are to advocate the use
of renewable sources of energy, to act as a stimulus
and a catalyst for environment-friendly building with
appropriate materials, to act as a dynamic experimental
base for testing designs, materials and activities
suitable for sustainable village life, and to encourage
village development, Francoise Summers said.
The project has been supported by many institutions,
including the Australian, U.S. and Canadian embassies,
and many others.
A new source of income for villagers
Besides saving energy and supplying more economical
way of living, the project is also beneficial for the
women of Sahmuratli village. Stressing the social
aspect of the project, Francoise Summers said through
the eco-center the women get a chance to earn money.
Some women complained to us that their husbands did
not give money to them. Now, they can get some money
through working at the eco-center, she noted.
Female villagers especially benefit from solar
cookers and solar driers for fruit and vegetables.
While they boil jam, which is a very long process, on
the solar cookers, they also contribute to their family
We always have guests here, so we can sell our
products to them. Besides, the center presents a
different atmosphere for us; we can get away from the
monotonousness of home here, one of the women working
at the eco-center, 52, said.
The income from the products is given to the
Sahmuratli Village Association, in hopes of turning
their products into a brand and reaching national
Houses made of hay bales
Buildings made of hay bales that are later covered
with plaster are another striking design idea. These
straw houses, which were financially supported by the
Canadian Embassy, have a distinctive feature: They
neither become very hot in summer nor very cold in
winter. The eco-center also includes a greenhouse,
organic agriculture field and products to help with
The project first started with the Think globally,
act locally philosophy. Now, if this application
spreads to other villages as well, the villages may
turn into magnets that contribute to the local economy,
and bring people who migrated to big cities due to
These two projects the Kerkenes Eco-Center and the
Kerkenes Excavations complete each other. While the
village gains commercial viability through Kerkenes
visitors, the visitors supply their basic needs at the
eco-center and observe its interesting structures and
designs. METU will host a fair in December to introduce
the products of the eco-center.
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