Call for Participation for the 7th Research Network of the Istanbul Department

Socio-Ecological Approaches to the History and Archaeology of Anatolia

The research networks of the Istanbul Department of the DAI and its partners aim to strengthen the exchange of knowledge between scholars from German, Turkish and international universities and academic institutions. The networks, which have been taking place since 2007, address mainly – but not exclusively – young scholars. Over a time period of 2 to 3 years, up to 10 selected participants are invited to collaborate in a transdisciplinary group on socio-ecological approaches to the history and archaeology of Anatolia and its neighbouring regions. The speakers of the network are John Haldon, Felix Pirson, and Chris Roosevelt. Invited participants include Lee Clare, Dries Daems, Burcu Erciyas, Elif Koparal, Christina Luke, Rana Özbal, Andreas Schachner, and Çetin Şenkul. The network is coordinated by Nicole Neuenfeld.

Recent studies have highlighted the significance of environmental changes in transformational processes throughout human history. While this presumption proves to be true to a certain extent, it should not be understood as a monocausal correlation, but rather as an integral element of the complex adaptive system of historic human-environment interaction. The level of complexity often seems overwhelming and impossible to manage; however, studies on a regional or micro-level scale might hold the key to a better understanding. In order to establish comparability between studies and bridge temporal and spatial distances within the rich history of Anatolia, we propose to use the framework of social metabolism and socio-ecological models. By making use of different approaches, the aim is to create a basis for meta-analyses or `bigger narratives´ of the complex hybrid system between the ecological and socio-cultural spheres.

Graphic: N. Neuenfeld

One of the most stimulating areas of research in the study of Anatolia’s multi-layered past is the complex reciprocal relationship between settlements, the countryside and their zones of transit. Through the tangible and intangible cultural and natural heritage, conclusions can be drawn about the socio-ecological metabolism – the continuous exchange of people with nature in order to reproduce and sustain the material requirements of a population as well as the set of flows within and between societies. Applying this concept, aspects such as the exploitation of resources, carrying capacities and catchment areas as well as communication and surveillance networks, administration and social hierarchies need to be examined. The interplay between these and other factors is of a complex processual character and poses the challenge of identifying interdependencies on the one hand of quantifiable parameters, such as the supply of resources for construction sites, and on the other hand, often biased and non-quantifiable sources, such as textual evidence on state and society.


The multi-layered history of Anatolia offers a strong foundation for diachronic and transdisciplinary exchange on socio-ecological approaches from prehistoric times to the Ottoman period.

Submissions from all relevant disciplines are encouraged to engage with socio-ecological approaches to the history and archaeology of Anatolia by way of, but not limited to, the following broader themes:

  • Modes of human-environment interaction: Use of resources, production and consumption, infrastructure, settlements
  • Resilience or failure: Societal organisation, technology and administration, perception and representation of the natural sphere
  • Proto-Anthropocene in Anatolia? Man-made environmental change before the industrial revolution 
  • Modelling of socio-ecological processes


The first meeting in spring 2023 aims to define the topics of the following seminars, which will be designed by the participants of the network. Accordingly, short introductions of all projects will be presented. Subsequently, at the following five network seminars (three in Istanbul / three to be held online), the exchange of knowledge and scientific approaches to the given topic shall continuously be enriched and deepened. This implies (1) the willingness to prepare thematic lectures (no project reports!), (2) active participation in the discussions, and (3) regular participation in all seminars. The papers shall be held in English. The Istanbul Department of the German Archaeological Institute and its partners will cover the travel and accommodation costs of the members of the network.

We encourage academics of all relevant disciplines, anthropologists, archaeologists, geographers, historians, orientalists, environmental scientists, and other scholars with a research focus on Anatolia and its neighbouring regions with a Master’s degree to apply for the transdisciplinary network.

Please send your documents (CV, list of publications, a topic relevant project description of maximum 3 pages) until 31.01.2023 to The same email address may be used for further inquiries and to contact the speakers.