Living Amid the Ruins: Archaeological Sites as Hubs of Sustainable Development for Local Communities in Southwest Turkey
Principal Investigator: Dr Lutgarde Vandeput, The British Institute at Ankara
The British Institute at Ankara (BIAA) - one of the British International Research Institutes (BIRI) that are largely funded by the British Academy - has been running a major project in cultural heritage management since 2013. One of the focus points of this 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.
“Living Amid the Ruins” (LAR) is part of the research leg of the BIAA’s on-going project and is adopting an innovate approach to the use of archaeological heritage in Turkey. Concentrating on southwest Turkey, more specifically on the ancient region of Pisidia, where the 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).