Category Archives: TURKEY

Human teeth made into pendants in Turkey 8,500 years ago

Human teeth made into pendants in Turkey 8,500 years ago

In a prehistoric archaeological site in Turkey the first evidence of this practice in the Near East, a region that encompasses Western Asia and Turkey, researchers discovered two 8 500-year-old human teeth that were used as pendants in necklaces and bracelets.

The University of Kopenhagen researchers has stated that although evidence has shown that human teeth were used for ornamental purposes at European sites, this practice has never before been documented at these or subsequent periods in the Near East.

The study published by the Journal of Archeological Science on the basis of the rare findings revealed that the human teeth had deep symbolic significance for the people who wore them.

The researchers including scholars from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark uncovered three 8500 -year-old-teeth during excavations in Catalhoyuk, Turkey between 2013 and 2015.

They said the unearthed teeth appeared to have been intentionally drilled to be worn as beads in a necklace or bracelet.

Photo of first excavations at the site of the human teeth, Çatalhöyük.

On further analysis, the researchers confirmed that two of the teeth had indeed been used as beads or pendants.

“Not only had the two teeth been drilled with a conically shaped microdrill similar to those used for creating the vast amounts of beads from animal bone and stone that we have found at the site, but they also showed signs of wear corresponding to extensive use as ornaments in a necklace or bracelet,” said Scott Haddow, University of Copenhagen archaeologist and first author of the study.

According to the study, the two teeth pendants were probably extracted from two mature individuals postmortem.

“The wear on the teeth’s chewing surfaces indicates that the individuals would have been between 30-50 years old.

And since neither tooth seems to have been diseased-which would likely have caused the tooth to fall out during life, the most likely scenario is that both teeth were taken from skulls at the site,” Haddow added.

The most interesting insight from the study is the fact that human teeth and bone were not selected and modified more often, the researchers said.

“Because of the rarity of the find, we find it very unlikely that these modified human teeth were used solely for aesthetic purposes but rather carried profound symbolic meaning for the people who wore them,” Scott Haddow explained.

Human teeth found at the site together with a representation of the type of necklace that could have been used.

Haddow added that burials at the site often contained beads and pendants made from animal bone/teeth and other materials, indicating that it may have been a deliberate choice not to include items made from human bone and teeth with burials.

The researchers postulated that these human teeth pendants were perhaps related to specific – and rare – ritual taboos.

Mysterious flooding leads to the discovery of 5,000-year-old underground city in Turkey’s Cappadocia

Mysterious flooding leads to the discovery of 5,000-year-old underground city in Turkey’s Cappadocia

One of the most spectacular sights in the world is in Central Turkey – dark valleys and rock formations with homes, chapels, churches, mosques and entire underground towns, harmoniously cut into the natural landscape.

These unique underground havens have risen and fallen around cities, empires, and religions, and yet it seems they still hold a few more secrets.

Another massive underground city in Cappadocia has been uncovered by archeologists in Turkey, consisting of at least 7 km of caves, hidden churches and escape galleries, dating back some five thousand years.

Calling it the “biggest archeological finding of 2014”, Hurriyet Daily News announced that the ancient city was found beneath Nevşehir fortress and the surrounding area, during an urban transformation project carried out by Turkey’s Housing Development Administration (TOKİ). 

“Some 1,500 buildings were destructed located in and around the Nevşehir fortress, and the underground city was discovered when the earthmoving to construct new buildings had started,” writes Hurriyet Daily News.

Nevşehir province in Cappadocia, Turkey

Nevşehir province is already famous for its incredible subterranean city at Derinkuyu (pictured in featured image), which was once home to as many as 20,000 residents living together underground.

It is eleven levels deep and has 600 entrances and many miles of tunnels connecting it to other underground cities.  It incorporates areas for sleeping, stables for livestock, wells, water tanks, pits for cooking, ventilation shafts, communal rooms, bathrooms, and tombs.

A reconstruction of what the Derinkuyu underground city is believed to have looked like

It is hard to imagine anything surpassing the Derinkuyu underground city in both size and scope, but archaeologists are saying they have reason to believe the newly discovered subterranean city will be the largest out of all the other underground cities in Nevşehir and may even be the largest underground city in the world.

Details regarding the dating of the site and how this was carried out, have not yet been released by those involved.

However, researchers have reported retrieving more than forty artifacts from the tunnels so far, so archaeologists may have reached the estimated date of 5,000 years based on those.

Numerous other known underground sites in Cappadocia have also been dated to this era.

Despite pouring 90 million Turkish Liras into the urban transformation project so far, the TOKİ has said it will move now their project to the outskirts of the city so that the newly found city, which is now officially registered with the Cultural and National Heritage Preservation Board, can be investigated and preserved.

TOKİ Head Mehmet Ergün Turan told Hurriyet Daily News that they do not view this as a loss considering the importance of the discovery.

“Hasan Ünver, mayor of Nevşehir, said other underground cities in Nevşehir’s various districts do not even amount to the “kitchen” of this new underground city,” reports Hurriyet Daily News.

Through the ages, the Hittites, Persians, Alexander the Great, Rome, The Byzantine Empire, Ottoman Empire, and Turkey have all governed the spectacular region of Cappadocia in Central Anatolia.

One hundred square miles with more than 200 underground villages and tunnel towns complete with hidden passages, secret rooms, and ancient temples and remarkably storied history of each new civilization building on the work of the last, make Cappadocia one of the world’s most striking and largest cave-dwelling regions of the world.

Now a discovery has been made that may overshadow them all.

The incredible cave houses of Cappadocia, Turkey.

An ancient underground city in central Turkey has been discovered by shepherds

An ancient underground city in central Turkey has been discovered by shepherds

Researchers who have been cataloging the underground settlements in the area since 2014 have uncovered the amazing city in Turkey’s Kayseri province.

Locals in the Gesi district told them about the presence of the cave and what they discovered was pretty outstanding.

The cave, named the Belagasi Underground City, contains 52 chambers, is 80 meters in length, and authorities are now planning on opening it up for tourists to visit.

The underground city of Kaymakli, Cappodocia, Turkey.
A room in Derinkuyu, an underground city in Cappadocia, Turkey

Also on the mountainside around the city, a church and other buildings were discovered.

This gives an idea of its age, “there are many underground cities built by Christian peoples, particularly between the 6th and 11th centuries,” according to the Obruk Cave Research organization.

The area has other similar caves, but it is thought this could be the first one with more than 50 chambers.

The size of the city was probably increased in line with the growing population of the ancient settlement.

Underground settlements were often inhabited in ancient times as they offered protection from invasions and bad weather; they were not designed to be long-term abodes.

Cave cities contained drainage systems, food storage, homes, and even transport and shops. Like other underground cities in Kayseri, Belağası was built in a horizontal fashion.

That style marks them out from caves found in nearby Cappadocia, which with its fairytale landscape is one of Turkey’s top tourism destinations.

Thought to have been first carved out by the Hittites, the vast network of underground cities in Cappadocia was first mentioned by the ancient Greek historian Xenophon in the 4th century BC.

During the 6th and 7th centuries, Byzantine Christians extended the cities and used them as a means by which to escape persecution.

Four of the most interesting to visit are Kaymaklı Underground City, with a maze of tunnels and rooms carved eight levels deep into the earth 

Derinkuyu Underground City, which has large, cavernous rooms arrayed on seven levels; Gaziemir Underground City, where you can see churches, a winery with wine barrels, food depots, hamams and tandır (clay-oven) fireplaces; and Özlüce Underground City, which is less developed and less crowded.

World-first Temple? Ancient site older than Gobeklitepe may have been unearthed in turkey

World-first Temple? Ancient site older than Gobeklitepe may have been unearthed in turkey

According to a Turkish university rector, new archeological excavations have uncovered an old site older than Gobeklitepe, regarded as the oldest temple in the world.

The Anadolu Agency’s Ibrahim Ozcosar, the rector of Mardin Artuklu University, said the Boncuklu Tarla (Beaded Field) discoveries in Gobeklitepe, a prominent archeological site in the southeastern Sanliurfa region of Turkey and even 1,000 years older.

Work on archaeological digs began in 2012 in the neolithic Boncuklu Tarla district in Dargecit.

Throughout the years Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Hittites, Assyrians, Romans, Seljuks, and Ottomans have been known to have been home to the city.

“It is possible to consider this as a finding that proves the first settlers [in the area] were believers,” Ozcosar said.

“This area is important in terms of being one of the first settled areas of humanity and shows that the first people settling here were believers,” he added, pointing to the similar discoveries in Gobeklitepe and Boncuklu Tarla.

Ergul Kodas, an archaeologist at Artuklu University and advisor to the excavation area, told Anadolu Agency that the history of the Boncuklu Tarla is estimated to be around 12,000-years old.

“Several special structures which we can call temples and special buildings were unearthed in the settlement, in addition to many houses and dwellings,” Kodas said.

“This is a new key point to inform us on many topics such as how the [people] in northern Mesopotamia and the upper Tigris began to settle, how the transition from hunter-gatherer life to food production happened and how cultural and religious structures changed,” he added.

According to Kodas, there are buildings in the area similar to those in Gobeklitepe. Boncuklu Tarla is almost 300 kilometers east of Gobeklitepe.

Göbeklitepe

“We have identified examples of buildings which we call public area, temples, religious places in Boncuklu Tarla that are older compared to discoveries in Gobeklitepe,” he added.

Gobeklitepe, declared an official UNESCO World Heritage Site last year, was discovered in 1963 by researchers from the universities of Istanbul and Chicago.

The German Archaeological Institute and Sanliurfa Museum have been carrying out joint excavations at the site since 1995.

They found T-shaped obelisks from the Neolithic era towering 10-20 feet (3-6 meters) high and weighing 40-60 tons.

During excavations, various historical artifacts, including a 26-inch (65-centimeter) long human statue dating back 12,000 years, have also been discovered.

2,200-Year-Old Stunning Mosaic In Ancient Greek City Of Zeugma

2,200-Year-Old Stunning Mosaic In Ancient Greek City Of Zeugma

In the ancient Greek town of Zeugma, it actually located in Turkey, three new mosaics have been discovered.

The mosaics dating from the 2nd century BC are exceptionally well preserved, but they’re still as beautiful as the first day.

In addition, in Dacia (presumably today’s Romania) there are two ancient cities named Zeugma and one in modern Gaziantep province of Turkey.

It was considered one of the largest trading centers in the Eastern Roman Empire in Turkey and prospered till the third century when it was completely destroyed and then struck by an earthquake by a Sassanid king

However, to this day, Zeugma yields a trove of archaeological wonders with 2000-3000 houses in remarkably good condition. Excavations started in 2007 and have continued to this day.

The fact that the city was destroyed and then also hit by rubble created a sort of rubble barrier, which protected it from future treasure hunters or building material scavengers.

2,200-Year-Old Stunning Mosaic In Ancient Greek City Of Zeugma

To make things even more interesting, Zeugma was completely underwater until recently, when a project to excavate the area received funding from a number of sources, and the past could finally be uncovered.

There are still many things left to be found in Zeugma, but for now, these mosaics look simply superb. Gaziantep Mayor Fatma Şahin and the head of the excavations, Professor Kutalmış Görkay uncovered them at a press conference.

“There are still unexcavated areas. There are rock-carved houses here. We have reached one of these houses and the house includes six spaces. We have also unearthed three new mosaics in this year’s excavations,” he said.

Görkay emphasizes that now, the project will reach its most important stage – conservation. Indeed, modern archaeology is not about finding things, it’s about preserving them for the future, and understanding the different aspects of ancient life.

“From now on, we will work on restoration and conservation. We plan to establish a temporary roof for long-term protection. We estimate that the ancient city has 2,000-3,000 houses. Twenty-five of them remain underwater.

Gaziantep Mayor Fatma Şahin visited the site of some 2,000-year-old mosaics on Sunday in the ancient city of Zeugma in southeast Turkey and walked on them in high-heeled shoes.

However, while they are talking about preservation, the mayor and chief archaeologist don’t seem to really care about it that much.

They displayed extreme carelessness as mayor of Gaziantep and her staff amounted to 13 people who stepped on the 2,000-year-old mosaics that measure up to 10 square meters in size.

That’s right, while they are talking about the importance of preserving these finds, they are actually walking on 2,200-year-old mosaics.

Mayor Şahin spoke at the ceremony, saying:

“Cultural heritage is the most important and rich treasure there is; therefore, we are very rich. We are the grandchildren of a magnificent civilization of the past.”

Roman-Era Sarcophagus With Skeleton Found In Turkey

Roman-Era Sarcophagus With Skeleton Found In Turkey

During road construction work in central Turkey a 2000-year-old sarcophagus containing a woman’s skeleton was discovered by a provincial official.

Municipality workers in Corum province found the sarcophagus located around 70 centimeters (27 inches) deep from the surface and informed the Corum Museum about the finding.

The sarcophagus placed some 70.0 centimeters deeper from the ground, was discovered by municipal workers in the central Anatolian province of Çorum, and informed the Çorum Museum about the find.

Together with the police, museum experts toured the scene and after a recovery search, the sarcophagus was moved to the museum.

The sarcophagus also included pieces of glass and a perfume bottle made of terracotta, along with the skeleton, which was sent to the Anthropology Department of Hitit University in Çorum for examination.

Sümeyra Şengül, the provincial head of the Culture and Tourism Office, told reporters that the 2.72-meter long sarcophagus belongs to the Roman era.

“When we opened the cover of the sarcophagus, we saw a female skeleton. It is estimated that it belonged to an old woman,” Sengul said, adding that there were also pieces of glass and a scent bottle.

“These remind us of burial gifts of the Roman era,” she said. Such a sarcophagus is rare in the region as it is made of local materials and possibly was made by “local stone masters,” she noted.

Stating that they earlier came across a soil grave in the region, Şengül added: “All these make us think that the region should be examined thoroughly, and we might come across some irregular burials from the Roman period.”

The Museum Directorate initiated efforts with the Culture and Tourism Ministry to preserve and examine the region in detail as a protected area.

Farmer accidentally discovers giant Byzantine-era pithos in central Turkey

Farmer accidentally discovers giant Byzantine-era pithos in central Turkey

A giant ceramic jar from Byzantine times was found by the farmer who plowed his field in central Kırıkkale in Turkey.

After his tractor locked up in a pot, the farmer living in the village of Koçubaba in Balışeyh district found the jar.

He called the gendarmerie immediately to inform officials of the find.

After archeologists have been extracted, the jar, which was reportedly used to store food supplies, was brought to the Kırıkkale Culture and Tourism Directorate.

“It was used as a cellar in the Byzantine era,” Kırıkkale Culture and Tourism Director Aydın Demiröz told Anadolu Agency, adding that it will be exhibited in the directorate headquarters.

Archaeologists in Turkey, which has historically been home to many civilizations, are not the only ones to frequently find significant historical artifacts throughout the country.

Construction workers, farmers, and ordinary citizens come across invaluable ancient artifacts in all parts of the country.

Ancient Roman-era oil lamps found in southeast Turkey

Ancient Roman-era oil lamps found in southeast Turkey

In southeastern Diyarbakir in Turkey, archeologists have discovered 48 old lamps from around 1,500 years ago.

During excavations at Castle Zerzevan in the district of Cinar, the lamps were uncovered.

Excavations are being performed by Aytac Coskun, Assistant Professor of Archaeology at Dicle University.

It was said that the lamps that would date from Late Roman. Early Byzantine period, would provide more information about the castle’s history.

Coskun said the place where the lamps were discovered could have been an ancient shop. “Each lamp has a different sign on it, including sun, stars or letters sometimes. They all have a different meaning,” Coskun said.

The lamps were unearthed near a 1,700-year-old Roman-era underground Mithras temple, which was discovered in 2017.

The castle is situated on a 55,200-square-meter area surrounded with walls stretching 12 to 15 meters high and 1,200 meters long, along with a 21-meter high watchtower and guard castle.

Excavations near the Demirolcek neighborhood, located 13 kilometers from the Cinar district, have been ongoing since 2014 with the help of Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Diyarbakir Museum, the Diyarbakir governorship, the Cinar district governorship, and Dicle University.

The vast space also includes a church, administrative buildings, ruins of ancient homes, grain and weapon storage facilities, an underground temple, underground shelters, rock tombs, and water channels.

Previously, an underground church and shelter with a capacity to hold 400 people, houses and hidden passages were unearthed.

The Zerzevan Castle is situated along the ancient route of military premises and located on a 124-meter-high rocky hill in a strategic location between Amida and Dara.

The settlement overlooks the entire valley and once controlled a large area on a key, ancient trade path. Once a strategic Roman border garrison town, the castle also witnessed the clashes between Romans and Sassanians.

The first settlement was named “Samachi” and while it is not certain when it was built, the excavations are close to revealing its age.

The castle walls were repaired at the time of Byzantine Emperor Anastasios (AD 491-518) and Justinian (AD 527-565) while some parts were completely rebuilt.