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

Location: Antalya

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) is part of the research leg of the BIAA’s on-going cultural heritage management (CHM) project and is adopting an innovate approach to the use of archaeological heritage in Turkey. One of the focus points of the CHM project has always been to understand what the 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 current cultural heritage management project of the BIAA is taking place, the proposed research 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 so through the newly established long distance trekking route, the Pisidia Heritage Trail. The 350 kilometers long trail connects archaeological sites that were investigated by archaeologists affiliated with the BIAA, Prof. Dr. Stephen Mitchell and Dr. Lutgarde Vandeput, over a period of ca 30 year. The accumulated scientific information is now being shared with visitors as well as the local communities. 

Pisidia is very rich in terms of archaeological assets and it also has beautiful mountain villages where the traditional lifestyle has been preserved up to a level. However, the younger generations are leaving their villages in search of better life standards 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 to reversing this trend.

LAR enabled the BIAA to have a social anthropologist conducting 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 protection, presentation and interpretation of archaeological heritage, and is also using this heritage as a resource for local development. The project fills the much needed research component in this framework.

Many experts from different backgrounds are working with the Principal Investigator, Dr. Lutgarde Vandeput and Co-Investigator, Dr. Işılay Gürsu on this exciting project, including Dr. Güldem Baykal Büyüksaraç (social anthropologist), Ümit Işın (tourism expert and archaeologist), Dr. Gökhan Deniz (botanist), Melike Gül (director, Antalya Regional Conservation Council) and Dr. Paul Burtenshaw (expert in economic development through archaeology).

Project Principal and Co-invstigators:

Lutgarde Vandeput is a classical archaeologist, who was 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 specialised in the study of monumental architecture, urban development and in survey archaeology. She was on the faculty at the Universities of Leuven (Belgium)  and Cologne (Germany). She 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 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 the 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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