Çatalhöyük Digital Preservation Project

Project Principal Investigator: Nicola Lercari, Ph.D.

Project Co-Director: Ashley M. Lingle (Cardiff University)

Project Members: Arianna Campiani, Ph.D. (Postdoc), Christopher Reps

Project Description:

Çatalhöyük is a Neolithic settlement located in Turkey, the best-preserved and largest of its time period. Researchers and students from all over the world come to excavate and study the possible ways of life of that time, as well as their tools, the flora and fauna they might have encountered, and many other aspects. The difficulty in preserving this 9,000-year-old, prehistoric city is only accelerated by erosion, high salinity levels, and an unstable environment undermining the excavated shelter's structural integrity, among others. These facets, coupled with the popularity of the site, set it as a important site for digital preservation.

The Çatalhöyük Digital Preservation Project (CDPP) started as a collaboration between Dr. Nicola Lercari from the University of California Merced World Heritage program and Ashley Lingle, Çatalhöyük Head of Conservation. The idea for this project came about in 2011, and has been the result of an on-going dialogue between the project Directors. Tools and methods for this project include blending site monitoring data and digital documentation data from environmental data loggers, terrestrial laser scanning, micro unmanned aerial vehicles (micro UAVs), multispectral and thermal imaging, 3D Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and virtual simulation. The significance of the Çatalhöyük Digital Preservation Project derives from the fact that large-scale heritage sites are inherently difficult to monitor and objectively interpret. Utilizing digital technologies to create predictive models for conservation offers an opportunity of building a comprehensive view of the site in its current state. Moreover, this approach allows us to create informed insight into the future of the site and share our best practice methodology and research data with local communities, Turkish institutions, and other heritage practitioners.

This is a unique opportunity to use existing knowledge of the site and capture new data for its preservation developing a novel methodology that fits a site as complex as Çatalhöyük, and ensures those taking on site custodianship after 2018 are able to use and build on those methods.

This research initiative is supported by an Archaeological Institute of America – Site Preservation Grant and by a University of California Office of the President’s Research Catalyst Award.

The collection of three-dimensional data is available online through the UC San Diego Library Digital Collections. This is a work-in-progress project. Currently available data belongs to the Collection “Immersive Visualization and Curation of Archaeological Heritage Data: Çatalhöyük and the Dig@IT App” at: https://library.ucsd.edu/dc/collection/bb16752349