In 1966, scholars from various universities and scientific institutions of Turkey joined together under the leadership of the former president of Middle East Technical University, Mr. Kemal KurdaÅ to establish a research institute to undertake the Keban Project. It was the co-operative effort towards salvaging the historical monuments and sites of a region that had to be flooded through the construction of Keban dam in 1970s. After 1975, the project extended the study area to include the Lower Euphrates Region. While the archaeological sites within METU campus were being excavated, the University Museum was established for the dissemination of information revealed by excavations and the display of artefacts for public.
This institute, re-structured in 1995 as a Centre of Research and Assessment of Historical Environment (TAÇDAM) continued its original mission: to motivate undertakings of salvage archaeology and documentation of historical environment by means of the most advanced methods and techniques for those areas under risk. Now, among advanced institutions of archaeology in Turkey, TAÇDAM stands as one of the leading research units concerning historical environmental matters with an interdisciplinary vision. Directed on research matters by a managing committee formed of representatives from several academic units at Middle East Technical University -archaeometry, geology, restoration of historic monuments, city and regional planning- TAÇDAM serves as an interdisciplinary research center to survey and excavate archaeological sites in threatened areas of Turkey, to publish their results.
TAÇDAM aims to develop research capabilities of METU on cultural heritage by documentation, rescue operations, conservation and assessment in required methods and techniques, to undertake these interventions through co-operations with national and international institutions, to publish research results periodically and to promote education and training in these fields of interest. Since the foundation year of 1966, the center has had an interdisciplinary approach and has always supported and led similar projects. Since Middle East Technical University comprises a vast territory of more than 4000 hectares, it is natural to find archaeological sites within its borders. The identification and analysis of the archaeological finds throughout this rather vast track of land commenced in the very early years of METU history and continue to this day. Parallel to survey work for locating new archaeological sites, excavations have also been carried out to formulate a better understanding of the salient characteristics of antique settlements. Ahlatlybel, Koçumbeli and Yalyncak may be cited among such sites.
After completing the discovery and initial investigation of the archaeological heritage within the university borders, further study will continue according to new needs and circumstances while taking into account results of the work accomplished in the last 30 years. In 1968, with the far-sighted vision of Mr. Kemal Kurdas, the former president of METU, a museum was founded in METU for the preservation and exhibition of the findings from the archaeological excavations within the borders of METU and in the plain of Ankara which were rendered possible with the support of METU between 1962-68. METU Museum is the first university museum in Turkey. Today there are departments of archaeology in many of our universities, but none of them have an archaeological museum. In this respect, METU Museum is not only unique among Turkish universities, but it is also has a distinct place among foreign universities, due to its collection enriched by archaeological findings from its own campus area.