Sardis, Turkey

- Archaeological Exploration -

Sardis, the capital of the Lydian Empire located in western Turkey, was one of the great ancient cities of Asia Minor and thrived under the rule of King Croesus. The Archaeological Exploration of Sardis, a joint excavation sponsored by the Harvard Art Museums and Cornell University, has been exploring Sardis since 1958; uncovering architectural features and artifacts from Lydian, Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine alike. One of the most impactful experiences in my life and as a designer was serving as the site Architect during the 2011 season, where I explored the ideas of mythology, earth and place.

Existing and working within the context of a living museum, precedents of the past and the sequence of the present blended seamlessly. Every day was an unpredictable paradox that brought awareness to the contrasting themes of precedent and place, beginnings and endings, earth and time. My discipline involved surveying, excavation drawings and eventually analysis of data collected to learn more about the people of this time. This is a journey through the idea of ruin as a transformative process.

Trench Drawings

The majority of my days were spent teetering over ruins and drawing the architectural features of the excavation as they were slowly uncovered. Trench drawings began systematically by locating and collecting points in space using regional surveying methods conducted by a Total Station. The process then involved creating hand-drawn, scaled sketches of the architectural features and then digitizing these drawings, by tracing their sequencing in AutoCAD.

T.E.P. Project

I was part of a team that looked at ways to preserve and maintain the mosaic tiles on the exposed floors of the synagogue. This was an ongoing side, “Tourist Enhancement Project” of the excavation that attempted to provide a protective skin and distinctiveness to the act of preservation for visitors.

 We spent weeks surveying the existing conditions of the synagogue for our study and the eventual execution by other architects at Smithgroup + JJR in Washington DC to complete the roof.

 We took the survey of the North and South walls, and explored stepped roof sections in order to minimize the effect on the landscape and keep the shelter closer to the fabric. The patterns of the roof involved a double truss system that eliminated a bottom chord and avoided intermediate components. The Synagogue roof was considered together with the roof of another, close by site feature called MMS; the Lydian fortification mudbrick wall remains. The roof followed the same pier spacing in order to have maintained the similar identity to this language.


I fell in love with Turkey. My experience on this archaeological exploration greatly impacted me and opened the doors for me to work similarly on other archaeological digs through out Turkey, including the past summer spent at Antiochia ad Cragum. (More information coming soon)

The Dig Experience

To learn more about the Exploration of Sardis, please visit:

The Archaeological Exploration of Sardis

Archaeological Exploration: Harvard Art Museums

The drawings and photographs here are were produced during the 2011 excavation season of Sardis,and intended to be displayed for educational purposes only. All drawings remain property of Harvard Art Museums. All rights reserved.