The Princeton-Isparta-Max Planck Meander Valley Project

Sept. 15, 2020

In close collaboration with partners from Turkey and Germany, the CCHRI is setting up a new research programme to study the social-environmental dynamics of the Meander valley during the last two thousand years. The Meander - in Turkish, Büyük Menderes - is the longest river of Western Anatolia. Its valley consists of a large variety of landscapes, from mountainous highlands to a large alluvial delta. With several important cities, it was one of the core regions of Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Anatolia. Our project sets out to test a number of hypotheses about the ways in which Anatolian societies responded to climatic, political and religious-cultural changes from Antiquity to the early modern period. In the first phase, we will focus on acquiring a number of high-resolution paleoenvironmental records from different parts of the valley, making it into the best-studied region in Turkey when it comes to the landscape change in historical times. The leader of the fieldwork, geochemical and pollen analyses for this phase is Prof. Çetin Şenkul (Süleyman Demirel University, Isparta, Turkey), working in close collaboration with the Paleo-Science & History Research Group led by Dr Adam Izdebski (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena). We are also planning collaboration for soil analysis with colleagues at Tulane University (New Orleans). In the project's second phase, we will undertake primary research of textual and archaeological sources, with the aim of creating a holistic model of how politics, culture, religion, warfare, climate and environment interacted in this highly diverse and unstable historical-ecological setting.