The Istanbul Department is dedicated to archaeological research in
modern Turkey, with one focus on Byzantium. The Greek settlement founded in the
7th century BC became the Roman city of Constantinople in the 4th century AD
and is now known as the Turkish metropolis Istanbul. As a second research
focus, the Istanbul Department manages monument excavations in West Turkey
(Pergamum, Milet, Didyma). Hittite culture and the Hittite capital
Hattusa-Bogazköy in central Anatolia constitute another key research interest.
The department’s research activities cover prehistory and ancient history,
beginning in the 10th millennium BC and continuing through the Ottoman era into
the 20th century.
DAI’s activities in Turkey open perspectives on key stages in the history of humankind. Following an approach across disciplines and eras, the Istanbul Department searches for continuities and discontinuities in the development of the cultural landscape Anatolia and its relationships with neighbouring regions. The relations between humans and environment as well as aspects of landscape and geo-archaeology are becoming increasingly relevant in these research endeavors. The investigation of the Neolithic beginnings of settlements on Göbekli Tepe, currently carried out in cooperation with the DAI Orient Department, goes back as far as 10,000 BC. The Hittite capital Hattusa-Bogazköy represents the development of Bronze Age empires in the 2nd millennium BC. Research on the well-known excavation sites Pergamum, Milet, and Didyma focuses on the organisation and urban structure of Greek poleis and surrounding regions from late antiquity. Of special interest in this context are the transformation processes from the archaic era to late antiquity.
These long-term research commitments of the department reflect typical stages in Anatolia’s development.
Pre-historic excavations traditionally play a major role in the department’s research activities. Another important focus is on the documentation of building remains from the Byzantine and early Ottoman eras, research on historical urban topography, and the documentation of 19th- and early 20th-century woodhouse architecture in Istanbul, which is increasingly endangered.
The Istanbul Department’s range of methodology corresponds with this complex array of findings and projects. Not surprisingly, the department's staff of researchers and consultants includes archaeologists, historians and building historians, as well as scholars of ancient oriental studies, Byzantine studies, and oriental studies.
In addition, the Istanbul Department coordinates and manages restoration and monument preservation projects, including safeguarding and preservation measures for construction findings as well as the restoration or partial restoration of monuments for educational purposes and the construction of protective buildings. In cooperation with Turkish authorities, the Istanbul Department develops master plans for the protection and touristic use of archaeological sites. The reconstruction and restoration measures in the Red Basilica in Bergama (Pergamum) are just the latest example for such joint efforts.
The Istanbul Department organizes conferences and maintains an international network of scholars. As part of the DAI research cluster, the network especially aims to involve young scholars and scientists. Department members and external guests present their latest research during two lecture series in the fall/winter of each year.