The Unknown History of Ottoman Archaeology: An Entangled Legacy
This project aims to produce a transnational history of archaeology in the Ottoman Empire around the turn of the twentieth century focusing on the social and scholarly interaction between Ottoman and European archaeologists. Drawing from archival sources such as official correspondence, letters, museum catalogues, field reports, photographs as well as archaeological material retrieved in Ottoman excavations, the project seeks to explore social networks, mechanisms of collaboration, and the specific role of Ottoman archaeologists in the formation of modern archaeology. In doing so, it aims to highlight the diversity of teams and individuals involved in archaeological practice in the late Ottoman Empire, who routinely collaborated in field research, artifact analysis, and publishing. Such transnational interaction in the archaeological realm opened up many opportunities for the exchange of knowledge and the transfer of expertise between European and Ottoman teams. The project exhibits the international nature of early archaeological research to allow for a reconsideration of the binary oppositions of East-West, local-foreigner, and Ottoman-European that have hitherto characterized mainstream historiographies. Emphasizing the prominence of local actors in the development of early archaeological practice, this project proposes an alternative narrative to those of the national(istic) and colonial histories.
From Raqqa with Love: Archaeological Explorations of the Ottoman Imperial Museum in Syria
This project investigates the formation of archaeology in the late Ottoman period as a ‘scientific’ discipline as it was implemented by a cosmopolitan team of archaeologists affiliated with the Ottoman Imperial Museum. By focusing on the archaeological explorations of the Imperial Museum at Raqqa as a case study, the project aims to give voice to underrepresented actors of the discipline, whose contributions are yet to be recognized in both Turkish and Western historiographies. In doing so, the project examines the ways and means in which the Ottomans actively engaged with archaeology in search for a new and ‘civilized’ imperial identity while counterbalancing the Western hegemony over antiquities lying in their land. Drawing attention to the social networks in archaeological circles of the time, the project offers an alternative narrative to the binary models focusing on east and west, local and foreigner, or Ottoman and Western. Besides, the project proposes a new methodology by integrating archaeological and textual sources in order to address neglected avenues of research and uncover the entangled histories surrounding archaeological investigations. Opening up new lines of inquiry for the history of Ottoman archaeology, this research seeks to broaden our understanding of the interplay between history, archaeology, and politics not only in the past but also at present.