Public Archaeology and Participation
Komana archaeological research project put educational programs for women and children in the center of heritage conservation activities.
Systematic investigation into the needs of the community was conducted and priorities were identified. Accordingly, additional activities to support the local communities in terms of rural development were organized. All activities assumed the aim of increasing awareness of the community regarding Komana with a future goal of increased appropriation and protection. The efforts were warmly welcomed by both the rural communities and the local government.

Small scale education programs evolved into participatory action research with the intention to achieve long lasting success in raising heritage awareness and protection of the archaeological site. The short term success of these efforts is varied however they have led our team to think deeper into relevance, community engagement, ownership, benefit, and the role of the archaeologist within this very complicated dialogue with the public.

Activities:

1. In 2010, Ten primary school kids, ages between 8 and 13, were offered archaeology and art history lectures, they were taken to the field for a visit, experienced excavation first-hand through mock trenches prepared in the garden of the house and attended an arts workshop on "Art through the Ages" resulting in an exhibition. (supervisors: Mina Şentek, Zeynep Şentek)

2. In 2012, three workshops were held with 14 children ages between 7 and 15. (supervisors: Anıl Ilgaz and Coşku Kocabıyık)

- The first workshop was an exercise to stimulate imaginative thinking regarding the past. It involved a trip to the site, interviews with the elderly in their village on daily life, and a meeting to share the information they collected during the site visit and the interviews with each other. They were asked to form groups for writing their story of the past. The stories were enacted by children who sewed costumes and made props inspired by their stories and the accumulated knowledge.

- In the second workshop cakes with archaeological layers were eaten during which stratigraphy and excavation techniques were discussed.

- The third workshop involved a visit to the Tokat Museum.
3. In 2013, children and women remained at the heart of activities. Children, this time from three different villages, were taken to the site for a photography workshop. Their photographs were later exhibited at Taşhan in the city (a restored han used as a shopping center and café) with the presence of the children and their families.

4. In 2014, Komana Rural Development Association was founded including the women of Bula in its board (supervisor: Ceren İlter).

A handicrafts workshop was organized in the collaboration with the Governorship, Public Education Center and Turkish Employment Agency. The governor (Mr. Cevdet Can) provided all supplies, Public Education Center designed a course and arranged for a teacher and Turkish Employment Agency payed a daily allowance to women who enrolled for this course.
5. In the November of 2015within the same scope and for enhanced engagement, a workshop in a Tokat hotel was organized in order to bring together the excavation team with the local authorities varying in hierarchy from the headmen to the governor, representatives of relevant civil offices, the Museum, the provincial development agency, NGOs, the municipality and the villagers from Bula and Gümenek. The aim was to identify problems, expectations, and to discuss future plans in the light of these preliminary observations.

6. In 2017, a Participatory Action Research project was developed by myself and Anlı Ataöv a planner from METU. The goal had been to device constructive ways to evaluate the impact of the archaeological work at the site on the local communities and empower them to make decisions regarding their physical and social environment, eventually resulting in effective conservation of the site.

7. In 2019, Ceren İlter (who also took part in the project) completed her Master's thesis entitled "The Dialogue Between Cultural Heritage, Development Policies and Local Governments: The Case of Komana/Tokat" in the Urban Policy Planning and Local Governments Graduate Program.
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