Living Amid the Ruins: Archaeological Sites as Hubs of Sustainable Development for Local Communities

Location: Antalya, Turkey

Year(s): 2016-2018

Principle Investigator: Lutgarde Vandeput, BIAA

Co-Investigatior: Işılay Gürsu, BIAA


Dr. Güldem Baykal Büyüksaraç, Istanbul University
Ümit Işın, Equinox Travel
Dr. Gökhan Deniz, Akdeniz University
Melike Gül, Director, Antalya Regional Conservation Council
Dr. Paul Burtenshaw, Sustainable Preservation Initiative

Funding: British Academy Sustainable Development Fund

Under BIAA SRI(s): Cultural heritage, society and economy in Turkey 

Summary: 'Living Amid the Ruins' (LAR), part of the research arm of the BIAA’s on-going cultural heritage management (CHM) project, is adopting an innovative approach to the use of archaeological heritage in Turkey. One of the focus points of the BIAA's CHM project has always been to understand what archaeological sites mean to the local communities that live near them, and the ways in which this relationship can be improved. Concentrating on southwest Turkey, more specifically on the ancient region of Pisidia where the BIAA's current CHM project is taking place, the LAR project is tripartite:

- Investigating the relationship that people living by the archaeological sites have with these places;

- Building capacity through creating social and economic benefits and sustainable growth for and in dialogue with the local rural communities;

- Intensifying the relationship between the archaeological site and the local communities in their vicinity so as to secure a better future for the cultural heritage itself.

It does this through the newly established long-distance trekking route, the Pisidia Heritage Trail. This 350km trail connects sites investigated by archaeologists affiliated with the BIAA, Prof. Stephen Mitchell and Dr Lutgarde Vandeput, over a period of 30 years. The accumulated scientific information is now being shared with visitors as well as local communities. 

Pisidia is very rich in terms of archaeological assets and it also has beautiful mountain villages where traditional lifestyles have been partially preserved. However, the younger generations are leaving their villages in search of better lifestyles and as a result the population is decreasing and ageing. The importance of LAR stems from this fact as it actively searches for ways to contribute towards the reversal of this trend.

Through the LAR project, the BIAA employed a social anthropologist to conduct ethnographic fieldwork in the Pisidia region. This part of the work is now being undertaken and its results will feed into the strategies relating to different ways of promoting sustainable development of this region.

LAR contributes to a new methodological approach to the protection, presentation and interpretation of archaeological heritage, and is also using this heritage as a resource for local development. 

Project Principal and Co-invstigator:

Lutgarde Vandeput is a classical archaeologist, educated at the University of Leuven in Belgium. She has done fieldwork in Turkey since she was a student. She participated in the excavations at Sagalassos and also in the Pisidia Survey Project, which she then directed between 1998 and 2012. She is currently involved in the Aspendos Archaeological Project. Lutgarde specialises in the study of monumental architecture and urban development, as well as in survey archaeology. She has been on the faculty of the Universities of Leuven (Belgium)  and Cologne (Germany), and has been the Director of the BIAA since 2006.

Işılay Gürsu works as the Cultural Heritage Management Fellow at the British Institute at Ankara. She holds a PhD in the Management and Development of Cultural Heritage from the IMT Institute for Advanced Studies, Lucca, Italy with a thesis titled "The role of public in public-private partnerships: reading the cultural heritage management practices of Turkey".  She has been coordinating BIAA projects on Cultural Heritage Management  for Aspendos & the Pisidia Region since 2013.

Belongs to;
Community Outreach & Public Archaeology
Cultural Heritage Management

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