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Public Archaeology at Phoenix

Project Team

Dr. Işılay GÜRSU

Cultural Heritage, Ankara British Institute of Archeology

Public archaeology, in its simplest sense, is an attempt to understand the already existing relationship between archaeology and public. Based on such an understanding activity that aim at strengthening this relationship can also be created.

The basic components of this relationship can be found is questions such as: in what ways are archaeological assets part of people’s daily lives, what meanings do they embody, what kind of uses do they have, or which are the difficulties they cause?  

A well-established public archaeology approach requires a challenging stance towards stereotypical statements and generalisations made about society’s understanding of archaeology.

What is protected and presented under the umbrella of archaeology and cultural heritage, who benefits from this protection and interpretation and who is left out are at the heart of inquiries.

Following the conceptualization offered by Matsuda in the critical approach to public archaeology, the ultimate aim is to make the modern world more just and equitable through archaeology.


We are considering this aim within the scope of Phoenix Public Archaeology Project. We strive to do a multi-layered reading of the impact of this archaeological site located nearby Taşlıca and Söğüt villages on the communities, and to create room for this reading to feed and transform the whole project.

Işılay Gürsu graduated from Boğaziçi University’s Tourism Administration department, and she completed her MA studies at Koç University’s ‘Anatolian Civilizations and Cultural Heritage Management’ programme. She received her PhD in Cultural Heritage Management from IMT Institute for Advanced Studies, Lucca, Italy in 2013.

She joined the BIAA upon completion of her PhD. For the first two years of her appointment, she worked on improving the presentation and interpretation of the ancient site of Aspendos and the ancient region of Pisidia. She was the Co-Investigator of the research project ‘Living Amid the Ruins: Archaeological Sites as Hubs of Sustainable Development in Southwest Turkey’, which received funding from the British Academy’s Sustainable Development Programme in December 2016. She was involved in drafting the SARAT (Safeguarding Archaeological Assets of Turkey) project application, and worked as part of the project, between 2017-2020. SARAT won the 2020 Europa Nostra Award in the category Education, Training and Awareness-Raising.