BIAA-led ‘Water in Istanbul: Rising to the Challenge?’ Project Awarded Knowledge Frontiers Funding


16 April 2021

The BIAA is delighted to announce the launch of a new project, ‘Water in Istanbul: Rising to the Challenge?’, funded by the British Academy’s Knowledge Frontiers 2021: International Interdisciplinary Research Scheme.

The project will bring together archaeologists, engineers, social scientists and historians from the University of Edinburgh, Northumbria University, Istanbul Technical University and the BIAA to investigate water management infrastructure in Istanbul at two key phases in the city’s life: the transition from Byzantine to Ottoman rule and the period of population explosion beginning circa 1980.

Since its foundation in 330 C.E., Istanbul – now Europe’s largest city – has ‘thirsted for water’ – a problem that ruling authorities have wrestled with through time and that is equally relevant today in the context of continuing population growth and rapid climate change.

Water in Istanbul: Rising to the Challenge?

Interdisciplinary collaboration between archaeologists, historians and engineers will for the first time allow the application of present-day hydraulic engineering modelling methods to data from the early Ottoman period with the aim of generating new knowledge and understanding of how the past system functioned and was managed.

In parallel, engineers and social scientists will work with water management experts and other local stakeholders to better-understand current needs and explore how past practices can inform solutions to contemporary water-related challenges.

The ‘Water in Istanbul: Rising to the Challenge?’ project, led by Principal Investigator and BIAA Director Dr Lutgarde Vandeput (, will run from April 2021 to March 2023.