Faculty Spotlight: Türkan Pilavci

In the inaugural episode of Faculty Spotlight, hosts Lauren K. Wolfe and Mark DeLucas sit down with faculty Türkan Pilavci, art historian and field archaeologist, for a wide-ranging conversation about her work, including her archaeological field work in Turkey, the problems with art museums, the meaning and periodization of “Ancient Egypt”; how modern states draw onand discard—ancient history (for example, the mummy parade!); archaeology in pop culture (Indiana Jones: archaeologistor adventurer?), and what it’s like to be a woman at the dig. If you enjoyed the podcast, please check out Türkan’s upcoming BISR course: Ancient Egypt: Art, Archaeology, and Empire.

You can download the episode by right-clicking here and selecting “save as.” Or, look us up on iTunes.

Faculty Spotlight is an occasional series of the Podcast for Social Research. If you like what you’ve heard, consider subscribing to Brooklyn Institute’s Patreon page, where you can enjoy access to all past and future episodes of the podcast.

Faculty Spotlight: Türkan Pilavci


Tarsus-Gözlükule Excavations — The prehistoric mound of Gözlükule rises from the now urban settlement of Tarsus, as a testament to the continuous settlements going back to the Neolithic period. Türkan has been excavating on the mound since 2007, first as a graduate student, then as a Trench Supervisor, and, since 2012, as the Field Director, coordinating the field work and data analysis.

Mapping Mesopotamian Monuments — The project is a topographical survey, designed to record the monuments of Mesopotamia, creating a digital archive as one possible way to preserve ancient heritage. The website serves as a quadrilingual resource, with pages in English, Turkish, Arabic, and Kurdish.

On the work of Zainab Bahrani and reflections on the destruction of cultural heritage, see https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/this-is-a-genocide-art-historian-zainab-bahrani-on-isiss-destruction-of-cultural-heritage-5312/

Regarding the overvaluation of any particular find above its specific context, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mC1ikwQ5Zgc. In this clip, the focus is on the object, the driving force behind Indiana Jones’s quest. The context of the find, its placement in relation to architecture, or even the impressive underground complex, are not recorded, not even mentioned, which clearly contradicts proper archaeological conduct.   

On repatriation claims and the unpredictable paths traveled by pre-modern artifacts, see recent articles in the New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, and the Washington Post

Harrison Ford accepts the Archaeological Institute of America’s Bandolier Award (2009) for public service to the discipline.

Egypt has consumed the imagination of the Western audience since the reception of its antiquities, seeping into the popular culture at large, dubbed Egyptomania, as evinced in Guiseppe Verdi’s opera Aida and in various architectural settings.

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