Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About us How to find us C. (Canan) Çakirlar, PhD

C. Çakirlar, PhD

Senior lecturer

I am a zooarchaeologist. I ‘read’ the morphological features and molecular constituents of ancient animal bones and shells to understand human-animal biocultural co-evolution. I investigate the mutual lives of human and animal populations, specifically when farmers began to spread into Europe together with domesticated animals and when Mediterranean cities began to exploit coastal resources intensively.  

I became enthusiastic about my field while I was an MA student at the American University of Beirut, where I had the opportunity to excavate the remains of Phoenician harbor towns whilst observing sea turtles nesting on the beach. As a PhD in Tübingen University, supported by the German Science Foundation (DFG) and the State of Baden-Württemberg, I studied the incremental growth of ancient and modern cockles to understand how, how often and why the people of ancient Troy gathered them in massive quantities ca. 5000-1000 years before present.  The fieldwork component of my research was funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Two days after receiving a Magna cum laude for my dissertation, I had already started my postdoctoral fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution. There I developed my methodology coupling it with stable isotope analysis and studied the effects of rapid global climate change on the human environments of ancient Syria.

Several opportunities, including a grant from the Belgian Science Policy, took me to Europe, and from the invertebrate-human niche to the world of vertebrate-human interactions. From 2009 onwards, I focused on studying the co-adaptations of humans and domesticated animals during migrations, political turbulence, climatic stress, as well as at times of plenty. Fieldwork for this research was supported generously by the Institute of Aegean Prehistory. My interest in the co-evolution of humans and aquatic species did not cease. On the contrary, in 2012, I won a Tegner Award for Historical Marine Ecology. In 2013, I served the National Geographic Society as a country expert. 

I moved to Groningen in late 2012. I have a unique job: I supervise the zooarchaeological lab and skeletal collections of the Institute of Archaeology, where students, researchers, and anyone from the public can study bones and shells. I am a fan of Open Access dataset publishing, for which I got a KNAW-Small Data Grant last year. I recently received a Digital Humanities grant to develop Augmented Reality apps which will make the collections more widely accessible. I teach zooarchaeology to archaeology, biology and forensics students from the RUG, other Dutch universities and abroad (e.g., Iran, Canada, Bulgaria...). I am one of the few docents who use continuous learning and assessment strategies in my faculty. 

I have also been recently awarded another Wenner-Gren Foundation grant to conduct research on the origins of camel hybridisation. 

Since 2011, I have been serving in the International Council of Archaeozoology, a society of 800 zooarchaeologists from more than 50 countries, as an elected member. I serve in the editorial boards of top Q1 journals (e.g. Journal of Field Archaeology, Documenta Praehistorica) and new, open-access journals (e.g. Open Quaternary). 

Last modified:02 September 2019 4.55 p.m.

Contact information

Poststraat 6
9712 ER Groningen
The Netherlands

GIA zooarchaeology lab

Job title:
Working hours:
08:30-17:30, Monday-Friday

Zooarchaeology Lab