Overlooking Golden Horn and Eminönü from Pera. Photo by Leandro Centomo.

News from the NIT

Ever since our last newsletter, we have organized many events, hosted several researchers at the library and published a new book! We are excited to share our news about the recent and upcoming events at the Netherlands Institute in Turkey.

Connected World Social Impact Award

Ottoman aqueduct (Uzunkemer), Istanbul. Photo by Mariëtte Verhoeven.

We are pleased to announce that Fokke Gerritsen has received a Vrije Universiteit (VU) Connected World Social Impact Award for the Water Memories project that aims to unlock Istanbul’s water heritage through a walking app. This project is a partnership of VU, NIT, Radboud University (Mariëtte Verhoeven), and the Hrant Dink Foundation, building on the water heritage related programs that NIT has been involved in since 2022.

As the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, Istanbul is particularly rich in aqueducts, cisterns, water towers, fountains, and other witnesses to the historic water supply through the ages. The best way to experience this heritage is by exploring it on foot, as it gives a sense of how these monuments are connected in space and time.

At the same time, a key question is how this heritage can contribute to issues of sustainability, livability and social cohesion in today’s city, where a water crisis due to population growth and climate change is drawing close. A heritage walk that will be included in KarDes, a popular mobile app, can increase public awareness and appreciation of water past in present.

The Water Memories project is scheduled to run through 2024 and the aim is to have the walk online by the end of the year.

New Publication

We are happy to announce the publication of our new book Water Heritage for Sustainable Cities: Proposals for the Revalorization of the Valens Aqueduct in Istanbul.

In the autumn of 2022, the Netherlands Institute in Turkey (NIT) offered a graduate-level course program entitled “NIT Urban Heritage Lab: Water Heritage for Sustainable Cities”. It explored innovative ways to develop informed strategies to promote urban sustainability in times of climate crisis through the use of tangible and intangible water heritage. This book presents proposals that were developed by four interdisciplinary and international teams as part of the course.

You can download the PDF version of the book here.

NIT Intern: Esen Kayan

Esen Kayan has joined NIT as a temporary member of our staff. Esen completed her BA in European Studies (University of Amsterdam). Her interests include contemporary history of Europe and Turkey, philosophy, gender studies & intersectionality, postcolonial studies and cultural heritage. She wrote her BA thesis on cultural identity of Modern Turkey and the representation of minorities in Turkish Cinema.

She is a social media intern at NIT, and is one of the contributors to the NIT Blog. Moreover, she is currently helping with digitizing the Feriköy Protestant Cemetery Archive.

NIT Blog

We have launched a new blog! The NIT blog was created to get insights from our fellows, hear their voices, and to look into their contributions to the NIT community. Our blog aims to see not only academic life, but also life in Turkey from the point of view of our fellows. You can follow NIT’s blog here.

Past Activities

NIT Urban Heritage Lab: Archaeological Heritage and Liveable Cities Course

Course participants during the field trip (top), doing group work (middle), at the end of the program (bottom). Images: NIT Archive.

The third edition of the Urban Heritage Lab Autumn Course entitled Archaeological Heritage and Liveable Cities took place in the autumn of 2023. 20 participants from various disciplines such as architecture, urban planning, archaeology, history, cultural heritage management, and philosophy followed multiple lectures and discussions on archaeological heritage in urban contexts.

The final projects concentrated on Ankara’s multi-layered heritage, to reconnect the Roman archaeological heritage with contemporary Ankara. The students developed proposals to reintegrate the Cardo Maximus, the Augustus Temple, the Roman bath, and the Roman theater with the contemporary Ankara.

These proposals will eventually be published in the third volume of the Urban Heritage Lab publication series of the Netherlands Institute in Turkey by the end of this calendar year.

NIT Day in Leiden

On 13 December 2023, we organized NIT Day in Leiden at the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden. In the morning, Mehmet Kentel presented his research on Istanbul panaromas Istanbul’s Panoramic Constructions and Destructions: Notes from On the Spot. During the NIT Day, we also heard from former researchers, fellows and students who shared their experiences at NIT as well as their current projects. Finally, Fokke Gerritsen gave a lecture on Istanbul’s water heritage entitled De dorstige stad. Water in historisch Constantinopel en hedendaags Istanbul.

You can read details about the program here.

Book Launch: A Hundred Years of Republican Turkey. A History in a Hundred Fragments

Umut Azak, Çimen Günay-Erkol and Alp Yenen at Palais de Hollande, during the book launch.

On January 17, NIT and the Dutch Consulate General in Istanbul co-organized the book launch of A Hundred Years of Republican Turkey. A History in a Hundred Fragments at Palais de Hollande. The book is edited by Alp Yenen and Erik-Jan Zürcher and is published by Leiden University Press. During the event, Umut Azak and Çimen Günay-Erkol gave lectures about their contributions to the book after the presentation by the editors.

Please go here for more information about the book.

Lecture: Every Contact Leaves a Trace: Identifying Communities of Clay Object Makers through Ancient Fingerprints by Aysel Arslan

As part of the 2024 ARWA AAA Online Lectures Cycle “Anatolian Identities”, Aysel Arslan (NIT) presented her research on ancient fingerprints on clay objects from Anatolia on February 8. She focused on two late Neolithic sites, Barcın Höyük and Ulucak Höyük and discussed how labor division in making clay objects might have been formulated in terms of sex and age at these sites. You can watch the recording of her lecture here.

Lecture: Piety on screen. Increasing presentation of religion in Turkish television series by Petra de Bruijn

Petra de Bruijn during her lecture.

Petra de Bruijn (Leiden University) gave a lecture on the display of religiosity in television drama in Turkey in her lecture Piety on Screen. Increasing presentation of religion in Turkish television series on March 6. She focused on three series, namely the Netflix series Bir Başkadır (Ethos, 2020), Kızılcık Şerbeti (Cranberry Sorbet, 2022-2023) broadcasted on the mainstream private channel Show TV, and the TRT 1 series Yedi Güzel Adam (Seven Nice Men, 2014-2015), and compared them in terms of their depiction of religion and the secular-religious opposition in Turkish society.

Lecture: Barcın Höyük’te Mandıracılık by Rana Özbal and Fokke Gerritsen

As a part of the Neolithics lecture series organized by Istanbul University Prehistory Department, CNRS ARSCAN, and the Institut Français d’Etudes Anatoliennes (IFEA), Fokke Gerritsen (NIT) and Rana Özbal (Koç University) gave a lecture on dairy production at Barcın Höyük on March 26. The lecture focused on the recent results of organic residue analyses from the Neolithic and Chalcolithic pottery at the site.


We are happy to announce four new fellows who will be working on their projects at the NIT Library in the Spring of 2024. You will be able to read more about their respective research projects in upcoming NIT blog posts.

John Turco is a PhD candidate in Archaeology at the University of Groningen. His research on Rituals in Space: Reconstructing funerary ritual through gifts and bones aims to reconstruct ritual practice and beliefs within the necropoleis of Roman period Pisidia and Coastal Lebanon.

Frederik Schack is doing his Research MA in Archaeology at Leiden University. His project, in which he focuses on the material manifestations of empire in regional centers of North Central Anatolia (NCA) during the late bronze age (LBA), is entitled Everyday Empire: A household Archaeological approach to regional centres in LBA North Central Anatolia.

Gabriel Sel is doing his MA in Middle Eastern Studies at Leiden University. In his project, entitled Tekkes in Transition: Tracing Istanbul’s Social, Cultural, and Political Metamorphosis through Visual Narratives, he will examine the restoration process of several tekkes in relation to the social, political and cultural transformations of Istanbul in the last few decades.

José Rafael Medeiros Coelho is a PhD student in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Groningen. He focuses on the intricate dynamics of Arab Ottoman and post-Ottoman transnational migration between Antioch and São Paulo. He will be conducting research at NIT in May for his project entitled Mapping Transnational Hubs, Networks, and Cultural Heritage: Ottoman Arab Migrations to Latin America (Antioch-São Paulo).

Upcoming Activities

The rest of the semester is full of events and activities. Below you can find our agenda for the following months.

Lecture: Freedom in slavery. Status and agency in inscribed epigrams from the Greek East, 3rd cent BC – 3rd cent AD by Laurens E. Tacoma

You are cordially invited to the lecture Freedom in Slavery. Status and agency in inscribed epigrams from the Greek East, 3rd cent BC – 3rd cent AD by Laurens E. Tacoma (Leiden University, Department of History) on April 3, 2024, at 18.30 at the Anamed Auditorium. Please go here for details about the lecture. 

Conference: International Conference Post-Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction: Challenges and Opportunities

On May 20-21, 2024, a conference that focuses on post-disaster recovery and reconstruction is organized with IFEA. The conference aims to shed light on post-earthquake reconstruction, focusing specifically on the city of Antakya/Hatay, a multilayered and multicultural city. Details about the conference will be published on NIT’s website soon.

Workshop: Cities, Water and Heritage

This one-day meeting with Turkish and Dutch water and water heritage experts is co-organized with ISKI and the Consulate-General of the Netherlands on June 6.

Mağlova Aqueduct, October 2021. Photo by Aysel Arslan

What are the best strategies and practices to create public awareness and engagement with water issues? What are the possibilities for water heritage to help highlight water issues in past, present and future? How can water heritage help improve the livability of cities? What are the best ways for scientists, heritage professionals, water authorities and urban planners to work together on creating sustainable links?

This meeting plans to explore these questions by sharing experiences and expertise from water and water heritage experts based in Istanbul and the Netherlands. It will focus on recent and ongoing projects. Among other presentations, it will present proposals that were developed as part of the Water Heritage for Sustainable Cities Project that took place in the autumn of 2022. It will also present the outcomes of the Embassy Science Fellowship of Mariëtte Verhoeven at the Consulate-General of the Netherlands.

Call for Papers: Necropoleis Research Network Annual Meeting VII

Graves from Byzantine period at Barcın Höyük, Bursa. Barcın Höyük Project Archive.

We are pleased to announce the 7th Annual Meeting of the Necropoleis Research Network (NRN). The meeting will be held in Istanbul on 7-9 October 2024 and is hosted by the Netherlands Institute in Turkey (NIT). The meeting will consist of two conference days in the ANAMED auditorium, followed by a guided excursion (in Istanbul) on the third day.

Please go here for more information about the Necropoleis Research Network and the call for papers.

Tell Kurdu Excavations

Tell Kurdu during the 2022 excavation season. Image: Tell Kurdu Project Archive.

For two months during the summer, NIT staff members Fokke Gerritsen, Aysel Arslan and Gülşah Günata will carry out archaeological fieldwork as team members of the Tell Kurdu Excavations Project in Hatay. Begun in 2022, and directed by Koç University’s Rana Özbal, the project did not have a fieldwork season in 2023 due to the devastating earthquakes of February 2023. Fieldwork will resume this summer with excavations as well as construction work on the expedition compound that will be the home and work place of the team. You can follow the project on Instagram: @tellkurdu

Anatolica 51 (2025)

The editorial process for Anatolica 50 is well underway and the issue is scheduled to appear at the end of 2024. Submissions for volume 51 can be submitted at any time before November 30, 2024. Please go here for details about publishing in Anatolica.