Halet Çambel
The First Female Archaeologist, The First Female Athlete to Go to the Olympics




She was born in Germany. After living in Switzerland and Austria for some time during 1. World War, her parents came to Türkiye. She studied in Arnavutköy American All Girls' School. She had fencing and archery lesson in the school.

Halet Çambel
With his siblings Perihan and Leyla.
Halet Çambel


She studied archaeology at Paris Sorbonne University for 3 years with the scholarship she received from the French Government. She spent her free time on fencing, table tennis and horse-riding.


Her first experience on the field was to work as an apprentice at the excavation of Alacahöyük.


With Atatürk's request she represented Türkiye in fencing at the Summer Olympics with Suat Fetgeri Aşeni. She became the first female Turkish athlete to attend the Olympics along with Aşeni. When Hitler called her to meet during the Olympics, she turned down the invitation explaining that she could not meet without the permission of the Turkish Government.


She started her PhD studies at Sorbonne University but earned her PhD from the Department of Literature of Istanbul University in 1944 because of the 2nd World War and she started to work as a lecturer there.


She worked hard for the preservation, restoration and exhibition of Hittite artefacts found at Aslantaş excavations and led the process of founding Karatepe-Aslantaş National Park which was the first outdoor museum of Türkiye. She was involved in the process of building schools in villages in the region, opened courses on carpentry, blacksmithing, and carpet making to contribute to the villagers' economy.


She founded the Department of Prehistory at Istanbul University and became the Head of the department. She continued to work in this position until her retirement in 1984.


She was granted the Prince Claus Award in appreciation of her contribution to the culture and development of the Netherlands.


She was given the Culture and Art Grand Award by the Turkish Republic Ministry of Culture.


Halet Çambel died in her home called Red Waterfront Residence which she donated for research to Boğaziçi University. However she continues to live as Sister Halet for the people of Karatepe...