KONYA - Anatolia News Agency

Hatice Yaşlı cleans archaeological findings in water with the help of a toothbrush. AA photo
Rivaling visiting archaeologists in their knowledge thanks to years of hands-on experience, local women are helping to sift and identify artifacts at an ancient site in the Central Anatolian province of Konya.
The locals are employed to clean the findings from the excavations, which have been ongoing since 1993 under the supervision of Ian Hodder, from Stanford University.
Hatice Yaşlı, 51, has been a member of the excavation team since the beginning. “I have been taking part in the excavation work since 1993 so I have become an expert now. I now know which piece belongs to which period,” she said.
The site contains artifacts from one of the oldest human settlements in the area.
The locals are employed to dry the earth removed from the excavation site under the sun, picking out bones, beads, obsidian stones and egg shells with the help of a loupe. Afterwards the small pieces are cleaned with water and the help of a toothbrush to make them ready for laboratory research.
Every year different experts from around the world work on the excavation, but she is the only permanent member of the team, she said. “The professors, the researchers and the students all know me. They sometimes jokingly call me ‘professor.’ We enjoy a good talk.”
Yaşlı and the other women who take part in the excavation site work between one and three months every year, according to the intensity of the excavation works. They are paid an amount close to the minimum wage, which is around 648 Turkish Liras net.
“I like my job. And with the practice every year I am excelling at doing it,” Yaşlı said.