Suzanne Davis at the base of the Notion city wall. Photo by Greg Tucker

I recently returned from a few brief but satisfying weeks at the Notion Archaeological Survey project in western Turkey. Notion was a Greek city occupied from roughly the 1st c BCE to the 2nd c CE. It is located on a high promontory which juts into the Aegean Sea, and today it’s rugged, beautiful, and windswept. The site is relatively unexplored and has almost no modern construction, so it is easy to appreciate as a well-preserved, ancient city.

Survey-based research by a joint University of Michigan / Brown University team has been going on at Notion for several years (you can read about it on the project’s website), and the UM team is planning to transition to two new types of work in the near future: conducting excavation at the site, while simultaneously developing it as an archaeological heritage park. My work has focused on conservation planning for these activities.

Last year I conducted a comprehensive risk assessment for the site, looking at issues impacting preservation while also considering Notion as a potential heritage attraction in the region.  Archaeologically, Notion has interesting features that nearby sites do not, and the site is especially fortunate in its natural beauty: indigenous biomes, stunning views, and access to gorgeous beaches.

This year, I focused on conservation planning for individual structures. Conservation at Notion is challenging (but interesting!) because the local conglomerate rock, from which most buildings are constructed, deteriorates rapidly. For each building I considered factors like structural stability and water and vegetation management. Across the site as a whole, I worked with project director Chris Ratté and architects Kathy Velikov and Geoff Thün to integrate conservation concerns with plans for site development.

At all of the Kelsey Museum excavations, it’s a pleasure to work with both senior and early-career scholars. At Notion, I’ve enjoyed working with IPCAA students Christina DiFabio and Shannon Ness on plans for community engagement. Meanwhile, Kelsey conservator Carrie Roberts is looking forward to working with undergraduate students to conduct scientific research on Notion’s building stones. So stay tuned – we hope to bring you many more Notion-related updates in future. 

Suzanne Davis, Curator of Conservation


Notion seen from the southwest. Photo by Suzanne Davis
View across the Temple of Athena at Notion. Photo by Suzanne Davis
View across the altar of the Athena Temple at Notion. Photo by Suzanne Davis