The mound Aşıklı Höyük is situated on the banks of the Melendiz River in the village of Kızılkaya (red rocks). The region, at an average 1,000 m above sea level forms part of the Central Anatolian Steppe.
The mound and its archaeological importance were first discovered by the Hititologist Edmund Gordon in 1963. Excavations by the Prehistoric Department of the Istanbul University are running since 1989. When at first it seemed a rescue excavation, in later years the project’s aims turned into preservation and restoration besides excavations of the earlier levels.
The project is not only anymore about excavating, but as well concerned with a protective roof construction over the archaeological remains in order to show them for a long time to come to visitors, they do community outreach, children’s archaeology workshops, experimental studies and are running an archaeological open-air museum.
As part of the experimental studies project, initiated in 2008, construction of the Aşikli house replica are emerging at the edge of the archaeological mound. The archaeological open-air museum is called “Prehistoric Aşikli Village” or in Turkish: “Tarihöncesi Aşikli Köyü”.
The architectural plan of the rectangular mudbrick houses is based on a group of archaeological building foundations, streets and open areas which were exposed during earlier excavations of the mound. These buildings are particularly representative of the overall site pattern of the upper levels, that is the 8th millennium BC.
One of the aims of the experimental project is to better understand building construction and renovation processes. At Aşikli Höyük, there were no ground-level entrances into the buildings. The door was located either at the upper wall or on the roof of each structure. The passages between the buildings generally were very narrow, leaving little room for public space among the residential structures. The experimental studies are exposing new issues and insights in the technical aspects of Neolithic construction, labor investments and the possible functions of roof tops as social spaces.
Another goal of the experiment is to develop a life-size exhibit of Aşikli house clusters for visitors to the site. In the excavations, the wall remnants are 1 meter high or less, making it difficult for non-archaeologists to visualize the layout and nature of the community. The interiors of the structures are furnished with typical stone-lined fire places in one corner and, in some cases, sub-floor human interments and samples of plant foods and reed mats of the period.
The first building group (re)construction was constructed in 2008, and a second group in 2009. Re-start of excavations in 2010 exposed wattle and daub structures and oval planned subterranean and semi-subterranean buildings in the early levels dating to late 9th millennium BC, where replicas of each are built and presented next to the “Prehistoric Aşikli Village/Tarihöncesi Aşıklı Köyü”.
Together they provide a partial model of a 10,000 village. Faithful to the original building plans and built entirely from traditional materials, these structures provide a physical sense of individual and social space in the community. A photography exhibit and a film viewing area have been installed in two of the larger structures. The number of visitors to the site increases daily. Now visitors have the chance to see the original architecture in its complete form and the typical contents of house interiors, along with major exposures within the excavated area.