Field Initiative 7. Turkey

Ecology, Archaeological Heritage, and Disposable Landscapes at a Coal-fired Power Plant in West Central Turkey.

Project Coordinator: Ömür Harmanşah, UIC, Associate Professor of Art History.

As salvage operations, archaeological projects often take place in landscapes of development and extraction. Yalburt Yaylası Archaeological Landscape Project, a regional survey directed by Harmanşah, documented archaeological sites in Kuru Göl Basin, a marshy basin in west central Turkey, where a coal-fired powerplant and its open-pit lignite mine are planned. The powerplant is one of the largest in Turkey and the lignite mine will cover the entire lake (1500 ha. at a depth of 200 m) involving the draining of the basin. Project area includes a small town and five villages, all of which would have to be displaced. Çavuşçu Lake adjacent to the Kuru Göl Basin is an internationally recognized wetland protection zone. Since 2010, Yalburt Project documented five prehistoric mounds, one Hellenistic fortress, one Hittite cemetery, and a Neolithic cave site in the powerplant zone.  Activist groups, The Ecology Collective and TEMA Foundation are engaged in a legal battle for environmental justice in the basin. The objective of this intiative is to design a creative intervention that will counter the developmentist discourse that Kuru Göl is a disposible landscape with a disposable future. The field initiative will aim to engage multiple stakeholders from local communities to government officials and ecological activists, and create an art installation to demonstrate that local landscapes of biological complexity, cultural heritage, and rural Anatolian life are not disposable.