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Halet Çambel

Halet Çambel

First female archaeologist to have developed the 'conservation on the site' model by establishing Turkey's first outdoor museum.
"Nobody can accomplish a job on his/her own."

Date of Birth: 27/08/1916 1916

Place of Birth: Berlin

Date of Death: 12/01/2014 1914

Place of Death: Istanbul

Burial Site:



Halet Çambel Halet Çambel Halet Çambel Halet Çambel

Field of Activity

Outdoor museum
"This is a place in hilly country in the southern foothills of the Taurus Mountains in the Northwest corner of Çukurova. One side of it leads to Andıran Ovası, and the other side, after travelling a long distance away from the hills, goes down to Çukurova. It is 125 kms. to the Northwest of Adana, 40 kms. to the East of Osmaniye, and 21 kms. to the East of Kadirli.
It is on an historical caravan route called Akyol. Caravans used to travel on this route through the southern plains to Andırın, Göksu and Pınarbaşı. They used to take products such as fabrics, etc. to Anatolia; and return with valuable metals such as iron, copper, and silver from the area. There were only a few routes through the Taurus Mountains: one of them was the famous Gülek Boğazı; another was the route in the Kozan direction; and the Andırın-Gökus-Pınarbaşı route.
This area was formerly unexplored. We had come to the Taurus Mountain with Prof. Bossert for our work on the Hittite era. We were caught by a snowstorm one night in Feke area and stayed in a village. We heard from shepherds in the village that they had seen a lion's head in Karatepe, so we went there after the snowstorm; and found that the whole hillside was full of historical artefacts. For many years we collected them and pieced them together.
It was obvious that the pieces all fitted together somehow. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, we would realise how two pieces fitted together and get up, light the carbide lamp, and join them together immediately."
(Halet Çambel)

Prof. Dr. Halet Çambel is the first Hittite scholar of Turkey. Her research areas are Archaeology, Prehistory and Volk Arts. During 1957-1960, with the Karatepe-Aslantaş model she was the first archaeologist who developed the 'conservation on the site' model in Turkey.

"In the early 1950s, when the government wanted to move the artefacts from Karatepe to a museum, I fought against the plan. "How could you move a two-ton monument where there were no roads?" I pleaded the importance of keeping the objects on the site where they were found."
(Halet Çambel)

Halet Çambel is also the first fencer, and competed in the 1936 Olympics as the first Turkish female fencer.

"I was in France and was supposed to return to Istanbul, but then I was told to go to Budapest because we were going to go to Berlin to take part in the Olympics. We were looked after by a German girl, a swimmer. She said to us: "I will introduce you to Hitler." But we just said: " Don't bother."
(Halet Çambel)
Publications of Halet Çambel

Karatepeli Fıkraları, İstanbul, 2006.

Together with Aslı Özyar, Karatepe - Aslantaş Azatiwataya, Die Bildwerke, Ph. Von Zabern, Mainz a. Rhein, 2003. Karatepe-Aslantaş Öyküsü, Boğazköy'den Karetepe'ye. Hititbilim ve Hitit Dünyasının Keşfi, Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat Yayınları, Istanbul, 2001.

Karatepe-Aslantaş, the Inscriptions, Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions II, W. de Gruyter, Berlin, New York, 1999.

Corpus of hieroglyphic Luwian inscriptions, Vol. 2. Karatepe-Aslantaş, Berlin,1999.

Together with Güven Arsebük and Sönmez Kantman, Çok Dilli Arkeoloji Sözlüğü Multilingual Dictionary of Archeological Terms Dictionnaire Multilingue D'Archeologie Mehrsprachiges Archaelogishes Worterbuch, Istanbul, 1994.

Together with Robert J. Braidwood, Istanbul ve Chicago Üniversiteleri Karma Projesi, Güneydoğu Anadolu Tarihöncesi Araştırmaları, Istanbul, 1980. Together with Reha Güney and Ayyüz Toydemir- Sabuncu, Kumkale -Toros Eteklerinde bir Haçlı Kalesi, Ege Yayınları, 1970.

Together with H. T. Bossert, U.B. Alkım, N. Ongunsu and İ. Süzen, Karatepe Kazıları, Ankara, 1950.

Together with K. Bittel, Boğazköy Istanbul, 1951.

TTogether with Helmuth Theodor Bossert,  Karatepe: Yeni Bir Eti Harabesi, 1946.


  • 2010 Minister for Culture, Award for Cultural Contribution
    Honorary doctorate, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
  • 2006 İçel Sanat Kulübü Kultural Heritage Award
  • 2005 Bosphorus University, Honorary doctorate
  • 2003 City Osmaniye, Distinguished Service Award
    Trojan Kültür- Avard
  • 2004 University Tübingen, Germany, Honorary doctorate
  • 2004 Prince Claus Award
  • 2002 Trojan Kultur Award
  • 2000 Universität Mersin, Honorary doctorate
  • 1995 Turkish Academy of Sciences, Honorary Award
  • 1986 Award of Adelaide Ristori, İtaly


Türkiye Bilimler Akademisi(TÜBA) Şeref Üyesi

German Institute of Archeology, Berlin, Asli Üyesi,

American Philosophical Society for the Advancement of Knowledge

American Institute of Archaeology, Boston

Thracology Institute, Sofya

Conseil International de la Philosophie et des Sciences Humaines.(CIPSH)


Arnavutköy Girls High School
Sorbonne University, Paris, studies in archaeology, prehistory and early history

Contributions to Society

"In 1947 the country was having a difficult time because of the Second World War. The funds allocated for excavation had already been used up in the second year of excavations. I went to Kadirli's newly appointed sub-provincial Governor Ahmet Cevdet Geçgil, and asked him for help. The young Governor, Ahmet Cevdet, suggested two different solutions. One of them was to go and ask rich landowners to help us; and the other was to organise a raffle through the Child Protection Institution (Çocuk Esirgeme Kurumu). We were not attracted by the first solution as it was problematical, so we decided on the second suggestion. We printed 10,000 raffle tickets of 1 Lira each. Together with the Sub-governor's office, we managed to sell all the tickets in a very short time. Of the total 10,000 Lira we took 5,000 Lira, which was a very large amount at that time. Half of the remaining amount was used to clothe poor children, and the other half was used to add 600 books to Kadirli Library.
(Halet Çambel)

Akraba ve Dostları

  • Mother: Remziye Çambel
  • Father: Hasan Cemil Çambel (diplomat)
  • Husband: Çakırhan (poet, journalist, architect, restorer)
  • Friends: Sabiha Sertel (woman journalist, writer), Zekeriya Sertel (journalist, writer), Ruhi Su (opera singer, popular song singer), Sabahattin Eyüpoğlu (writer, academic, translator), Melih Cevdet Anday (poet, play-wright, novelist, author), Abidin Dino (painter, caricaturist, writer, film-director), Bedri Rahmi Eyüpoğlu (painter, poet), Nazım Hikmet (poet), Ulla Johansen (ethnologist), Helmuth Theodor Bossert (art historian, archaeologist), Yaşar Kemal (writer), Muazzez İlmiye Çığ (woman Sumerian scholar), Mina Urgan (philologist, translator, Authoress), Mehmet Özdoğan (archaeologist), Ara Güler (journalist, photographer), Gencay Gürsoy (neurologist, human resources activist), Afife Batur (architect, lecturer, Authoress), Besim Çeçener (architect), Nezih Başgelen (archaeologist, editor), Reha Günay (architect, restorer)

Projects in her Honour

'Halet Çambel' section of the exhibition "Republic:New Individual, New Life" in İstanbul Research Institute Exhibition Hall, Istanbul, 11. Dezember 2013 – 17. Mai 2014, curator: Ekrem Işın

School named after her

Prof. Dr. Halet Çambel Primary School (Prof. Dr. Halet Çambel İlköğretim Okulu), Kadirli, Osmaniye

Site to celebrate her memory

Halet Çambel, Türkiye Bilimler Akademisi, Honorary Members webpage


Aylin Eren (director), Toroslarda bir efsane; Karatepe – Aslantaş (A Legend in the Taurus Mountains; Karatepe – Aslantaş), Documentary, 45 minutes, 2003.

Further Reading


Quoted Sources
  • See section "Further Reading
Sources of Visual Images
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