Americans have participated in the archaeological exploration of Turkey since the 1881–83 excavations at Assos in the Troad, sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America just two years after its foundation. Following the establishment of the Republic of Turkey In 1923, archaeologists were joined by scholars in many other disciplines, including historians of all periods, political and social scientists, philologists, anthropologists, and Turcologists. By the early 1960s, it was clear that an organization was needed to assist scholars conducting research in the country.

The American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT) was founded In 1964 “to promote research on Turkey in ancient, medieval, and modern times in all fields of the social sciences and the humanities.” ARIT, the primary representative of American higher education within Turkey, is supported and governed by a consortium of thirty-five universities, museums, and research institutions in the United States and Canada. ARIT's branches in Istanbul and in Ankara, each with a resident director, specialized library, and hostel, provide a wide range of scholarly support services.

From its inception, ARIT has concentrated its resources on a fellowship program that has enabled more than one thousand pre- and postdoctoral researchers to work in Turkey. This includes fellowships to Turkish scholars, awarded through ARIT's in-country counterpart, the Türk-Amerikan İlmi Araştırmalar Derneği (Turkish-American Academic Research Association). ARIT also administers an intensive summer program of advanced Turkish-language instruction at Bosphorus University.

Throughout its existence, ARIT has strongly supported archaeological research in Turkey, and four of its six presidents have been prominent in this field: Hans G. Güterbock, who guided the institute through much of its formative decade; Cecil L. Striker; Machteld J. Mellink; and G. Kenneth Sams. In 1993, at the request of the Turkish Ministry of Culture, ARIT assumed responsibility for conducting an annual primary review of all applications from the United States for archaeological excavations and surveys within Turkey.

Toni M. Cross