Principal Investigator Chris Ratté at the Notion, Turkey, archaeological site in 2021. Photo by Barış Tekin.

In May 2023, the Graham Sustainability Institute awarded a catalyst grant to “Paradigm-Shifting Protection of Ancient Ruins: A Sustainable, Community-Based Plan to Preserve the Notion Archaeological Site in Turkey.” The project, spearheaded by Christopher Ratté—who directed the Kelsey Museum from 2013 to 2017 and currently serves as a research associate and a professor of classical studies—was one of five selected to receive a $10,000 grant from the institute. 

The University of Michigan began conducting archaeological research in Notion in 2014. Located on Turkey’s west coast, the ancient Greek city abounds in natural and cultural resources, but it also faces challenges such as climate change, sea-level rise, illegal development, pollution, and looting. 

The catalyst project seeks to counteract such human-made and environmental challenges by transforming the site into a sustainable tourist destination. Working closely with Turkish partners and local residents, the archaeological team has developed a preliminary plan for a conservation program and storage/research facility. The grant money from the Graham Institute will allow the team to travel to Notion and collaborate with local architects, conservators, public officials, and residents to take operative steps to implement the proposal. “We hope to use this project to model and explore sustainable development strategies that could be more widely used by the local community,” said Chris Ratté. 

The Graham Institute’s sustainability catalyst grants support “small-scale, collaborative, interdisciplinary sustainability research intended to develop partnerships and lay the groundwork for user-driven research.” Since 2017, the grant program has funded more than 30 projects across UM-Ann Arbor, UM-Dearborn, and UM-Flint. 

In addition to the Graham Institute and other U-M units, the Notion archaeological project has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, the Leon Levy Foundation, and the Merops Foundation. Team members include Principal Investigator Chris Ratté, Kathy Velikov (Taubman College), Suzanne Davis (Kelsey Museum), Hazar Kaba (Sinop University), Metin Kılıç (M+D Mimarlık), Yaşar Selçuk Şener (Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University), and Dürrin Süer (M+D Mimarlık). Several graduate students from the Interdepartmental Program in Ancient Mediterranean Art and Archaeology, the Department of Classical Studies, and the Interdepartmental Program in Ancient History also contribute to the dig and project.