Category Archives: TURKEY

7,000-year-old fortress wall uncovered in southern Turkey

7,000-year-old fortress wall uncovered in southern Turkey

A fortress wall dating 7,000 years back to the Chalcolithic Age has been unearthed at the Yumuktepe Mound in southern Turkey’s Mersin province. The Yumuktepe Mound is highly significant as a continuous settlement for 9,000 years since the Neolithic Age.

Two and a half months of excavations at the mound are coming to an end on Friday. This year’s excavations focused on the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods, were carried out by a 30-person team led by Isabella Caneva – a professor of archaeology at the University of Salento in Lecce, Italy.

Caneva said that the 7-meter fortress wall discovered this season can now be shown to the public.

7,000-year-old fortress wall uncovered in southern Turkey
A fortress wall dating 7,000 years back to the Chalcolithic Age has been unearthed at the Yumuktepe Mound in southern Turkey’s Mersin province.

While every year’s excavations have provided historical insights, this year’s dig produced especially “striking” Neolithic and Chalcolithic findings, Caneva said.

Caneva said the layer in Yumuktepe Mound is special in that it contains very special architecture.

The fortress wall was made with a variety of materials, including a 1.5-meter-thick support wall made of limestone at the bottom, 2 meters of well-cut stones and 3 meters of mudbrick.

Previous excavations had discovered the existence of the castle, dating back to 5,000 B.C., but the team did not uncover the wall until this season’s deeper dig in the area.

“We didn’t know that there was such technology in that period in technical terms. Now we see it and it’s a special structure.

There was certainly a special product being made there because a normal village would not require such a thick and solid wall,” Caneva said, explaining that the village is the oldest site in the world known to produce molten copper.

“This is a very important product. Later on, there was a war for metal. It was an important technology and a valuable substance. Tools, flashy objects and weapons were all made with copper,” she said.

The team also discovered that homes in the Neolithic period were built in a certain way, continuously constructed on top of one another, for 2,000 years.

Caneva expressed hopes that the site will be developed into an open-air museum for visitors in the future.

The long-Lost Kingdom Over 3,000 Years Old Stumbled on by Archeologists in Turkey

Long-Lost Kingdom Over 3,000 Years Old Stumbled on by Archeologists in Turkey

It was said that all he touched turned to gold. But destiny eventually caught up with the legendary King Midas, and a long-lost chronicle of his ancient downfall appears to have literally surfaced in Turkey.

The archaeological mound at Türkmen-Karahöyük.

In 2019, archaeologists were investigating an ancient mound site in central Turkey called Türkmen-Karahöyük. The greater region, the Konya Plain, abounds with lost metropolises, but even so, researchers couldn’t have been prepared for what they were about to find.

A local farmer told the group that a nearby canal, recently dredged, revealed the existence of a large strange stone, marked with some kind of unknown inscription.

“We could see it still sticking out of the water, so we jumped right down into the canal – up to our waists wading around,” said archaeologist James Osborne from the University of Chicago in early 2020.

“Right away it was clear it was ancient, and we recognised the script it was written in: Luwian, the language used in the Bronze and Iron Ages in the area.”

The half-submerged stone with inscriptions dating to the 8th century BCE.

With the aid of translators, the researchers found that the hieroglyphs on this ancient stone block – called a stele – boasted of a military victory. And not just any military victory, but the defeat of Phrygia, a kingdom of Anatolia that existed roughly 3,000 years ago.

The royal house of Phrygia was ruled by a few different men called Midas, but the dating of the stele, based on linguistic analysis, suggests the block’s hieroglyphics could be referring to the King Midas – he of the famous ‘golden touch’ myth.

The stone markings also contained a special hieroglyphic symbolising that the victory message came from another king, a man called Hartapu. The hieroglyphs suggest Midas was captured by Hartapu’s forces.

“The storm gods delivered the [opposing] kings to his majesty,” the stone reads.

What’s significant about this is that almost nothing is known about King Hartapu, nor about the kingdom he ruled. Nonetheless, the stele suggests the giant mound of Türkmen-Karahöyük may have been Hartapu’s capital city, spanning some 300 acres in its heyday, the heart of the ancient conquest of Midas and Phrygia.

“We had no idea about this kingdom,” Osborne said. “In a flash, we had profound new information on the Iron Age Middle East.”

Luwian inscriptions were uncovered on a stone from a nearby dig.

There’s a lot more digging to be done in this ongoing archaeological project, and the findings so far should be considered preliminary for now. The international team is eager to revisit the site this year, to find out whatever more we can about this kingdom seemingly lost in history.

“Inside this mound are going to be palaces, monuments, houses,” Osborne said. “This stele was a marvellous, incredibly lucky find – but it’s just the beginning.”

You can find out more about the research here and here.

Shattered Skeletons of Man and Dog From Eruption and Tsunami 3,600 Years Ago

Shattered Skeletons of Man and Dog From Eruption and Tsunami 3,600 Years Ago

The remains of a young man and a dog who were killed by a tsunami triggered by the eruption of the Thera volcano 3,600 years ago have been unearthed in Turkey. Archaeologists found the pair of skeletons during excavations at Çeşme-Bağlararası, a Late Bronze Age site near Çeşme Bay, on Turkey’s western coastline.

Despite the eruption of Thera being one of the largest natural disasters in recorded history, this is the first time the remains of victims of the event have been unearthed.

Moreover, the presence of the tsunami deposits at Çeşme-Bağlararası show that large and destructive waves did arrive in the northern Aegean after Thera went up.

Previously, based on the evidence available, it had been assumed that this area of the Mediterranean only received ash fallout from the eruption of Thera.

Instead, it now appears that the Çeşme Bay area was struck by a sequence of tsunamis, devastating local settlements and leading to rescue efforts.

Thera — now a caldera at the centre of the Greek island of Santorini — is famous for how its tsunamis are thought to have ended the Minoan civilisation on nearby Crete.

Based on radiocarbon dating of the tsunami deposits at Çeşme-Bağlararası, the team believe that the volcano’s eruption occurred no earlier than 1612 BC.

The remains of a young man (pictured) and a dog who were killed by a tsunami triggered by the eruption of the Thera volcano some 3,600 years ago have been unearthed in Turkey
Archaeologists found the pair of skeletons during excavations at Çeşme-Bağlararası, a Late Bronze Age site near Çeşme Bay, on Turkey’s western coastline
Despite the eruption of Thera is one of the largest natural disasters in recorded history, this is the first time remains of victims of the event have ever been found. Pictured: part of the fortifications at the Çeşme-Bağlararası. The remains of the dog can be seen on the wall, while beneath that can be seen a shell-rich muddy patch deposited by the first wave
The presence of the tsunami deposits at Çeşme-Bağlararası show that large and destructive waves did arrive in the northern Aegean after Thera went up. Previously, based on the evidence available, it had been assumed that this area of the Mediterranean only received ash fallout from the eruption of Thera. Pictured: a map of the dig site as seen in 2012, showing the location of the human and canine remians within the Late Bronze Age fortifications

The study was undertaken by archaeologist Vasıf Şahoğlu of the University of Ankara and his colleagues.

‘The Late Bronze Age Thera eruption was one of the largest natural disasters witnessed in human history,’ the researchers wrote in their paper.

‘Its impact, consequences, and timing have dominated the discourse of ancient Mediterranean studies for nearly a century.

‘Despite the eruption’s high intensity and tsunami-generating capabilities, few tsunami deposits [have been] reported.

‘In contrast, descriptions of pumice, ash, and tephra deposits are widely published.’

Amid stratified sediments at the Çeşme-Bağlararası site, the researchers found the remains of damaged walls — once part of a fortification of some kind —  alongside layers of rubble and chaotic sediments characteristic of tsunami deposits.

Within these were two layers of volcanic ash, the second thicker than the first, and a bone-rich layer containing charcoal and other charred remains. According to the team, the deposits represent at least four consecutive tsunami inundations, each separate but nevertheless resulting from the eruption at Thera.

Tsunami deposits associated with the eruption are relatively rare — with three found near the northern coastline of Crete and another three along Turkey’s coast, albeit much further south than Çeşme-Bağlararası.

Within these tsunami deposits (pictured) were two layers of volcanic ash, the second thicker than the first, and a bone-rich layer containing charcoal and other charred remains
According to the team, the deposits (H1a–d in the above) represent at least four consecutive tsunami inundations, each separate but nevertheless resulting from the eruption at Thera.
The young man’s skeleton — which shows the characteristic signatures of having been swept along by a debris flow — was found up against the most badly damaged portion of the fortification wall (pictured, centre), which the team believe failed during the tsunami

Traces of misshapen pits dug into the tsunami sediments at various places across the Çeşme-Bağlararası site represent, the researchers believe, an ‘effort to retrieve victims from the tsunami debris.’

‘The human skeleton was located about a meter below such a pit, suggesting that it was too deep to be found and retrieved and therefore (probably unknowingly) left behind,’ they added.

‘It is also in the lowest part of the deposit, characterized throughout the debris field by the largest and heaviest stones (some larger than 40 cm [16 inches] diameter), further complicating any retrieval effort.’

The young man’s skeleton — which shows the characteristic signatures of having been swept along by a debris flow — was found up against the most badly damaged portion of the fortification wall, which the team believe failed during the tsunami. 

The full findings of the study were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Tsunami deposits associated with the eruption of Thera are relatively rare — with three found near the northern coastline of Crete and another three along Turkey’s coast, albeit much further south than Çeşme-Bağlararası

Died 3,600 years ago: the skeleton of a young man who became a victim of a tsunami found in Turkey

Died 3,600 years ago: the skeleton of a young man who became a victim of a tsunami found in Turkey

An international team of researchers has found and excavated the remains of a young man killed approximately 3,600 years ago by a tsunami created by the eruption of Thera—a volcano located on what is now the island of Santorini.

In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes how the remains were found and how they were identified as belonging to a victim of the Thera tsunami.

Prior research has shown that the eruption of Thera was a major event—so powerful that it has been blamed for the decline of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete.

Prior research has also shown that the eruption occurred sometime during the 1500s to 1600s B.C.

Santorini is located in the eastern Mediterranean, north of Crete, between southern Greece and southern Turkey. And while evidence of the ash that fell from the skies in areas all around the eruption site has been plentiful, there has been scant evidence of the tsunami.

This is because tsunamis tend to pull debris and bodies back into the sea, rather than leave covered evidence onshore. And because of that, the remains of the victims of the Thera tsunami have never been found—not one single body—until now.

Died 3,600 years ago: the skeleton of a young man who became a victim of a tsunami found in Turkey
The excavated skeleton of a tsunami victim.

The remains of the young man were found at a dig site known as Çeşme-Bağlararası. It sits along a shoreline on Çeşme Bay in western Turkey.

The dig site has been yielding Late Bronze Age artefacts for several years but it was only recently that the digging uncovered evidence of a tsunami—layers of ash and debris that were prevented from being washed back into the sea by a retaining wall.

In addition to the remains of the young man, the researchers also found the remains of a dog.

The evidence also showed that the area had been struck by several tsunamis related to the Thera eruption. Radiocarbon dating of materials surrounding the remains showed them to be from a time no earlier than 1612 BC.

The researchers also found damaged walls, rubble, sediment and ash, all evidence of multiple tsunamis. They also found evidence of what they describe as misshapen pits—likely created by people looking for victims shortly after the tsunamis struck.

The remains of the young man were found pushed up against a retaining wall, positioned in a way familiar to those who have worked on tsunami search efforts in modern times.

1,600-Year-Old Flute and Key Unearthed in Turkey

1,600-Year-Old Flute and Key Unearthed in Turkey

A 1,600-year-old flute and bronze ring with a key have been unearthed during excavations in the 3,000-year-old Zerzevan Castle, located in the Çınar district of Diyarbakır and which served as the last garrison of the Roman Empire in the east. The castle is on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.

Associate Professor Aytaç Coşkun, the head of the excavations, said the flute was important as it showed that the people living in the castle, which was a military settlement, had an interest in art and music.

The historical castle, which is home to the Mithras Temple, is located in an area of 60,000 square meters.

The historical castle has 12-15-meter-high and 1200-meter-long wall ruins, a 21-meter-high watchtower and defence tower, church, administration building, residences, grain and weapon warehouses, underground sanctuary, shelters, rock tombs, water channels and 54 water cisterns. Its 1,800-year-old entrance has been unearthed, too.

Coşkun said they uncovered very important structures and artefacts during the excavations that have continued since 2014.

Stating that the flute, which was identified to be 1,600 years old, and a ring with a special key were also unearthed during the latest excavations, Coçkun said that the flute, produced by making round holes in the bones of small cattle, is important as it reveals that the people living in the castle have an interest in art and music.

“The flute with six holes, one of which is broken, is dated to the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., that is, 1,600 years old. The ring with key, which was used to open a chest keeping very special items, is also dated to the 4th and 5th centuries A.D.

These artefacts are rarely found during excavations and are seen for the first time in the region. The number of visitors to the castle is increasing day by day,” he said.

Coşkun noted that Zerzevan Castle was the military settlement of the Roman Empire and one of the best-preserved garrisons in the world.

“We initiated the excavation works in the castle in 2014 and we took a break in the 2021 season. As of March, we started the excavation works again and the work will continue uninterruptedly until the end of December. Already, Zerzevan Castle is an excavation area and an important project that has been carried out for 12 months.

We have achieved many results in a short time. In fact, the works here are very important both for illuminating the history of the region and for the tourism of the region.

Many structures were unearthed, such as residences for soldiers and civilians, underground passages, water channels, and cisterns, and one of the most important structures was the Temple of Mithras, namely Mitraem,” Coşkun said.

He added that the excavations at the Mithras Temple, which started in 2017, will continue, too.

“We uncovered the underground church, the great church, the south tower, the walls, the main entrance in the walls. We will also carry out works on the wall line.

When we look at the walls, we see that they are protected up to eight-nine meters. And in the underground city of Zerzevan Castle, there is a filling between four and eight meters. There is also a large underground city.

One of the new works of this year will be in the administrative centre.

For the first time, we will start the work on a large complex structure located at the high point of Zerzevan Castle, where the city was managed and the administrators lived. We plan to make an important step in these excavations by the end of the year. We are even planning to open a large part of the structure,” he said.

Mysterious Papyrus found Indside a Hidden “Crypt in Agia Sophia: What do they say?

Mysterious Papyrus found Indside a Hidden “Crypt in Agia Sophia: What do they say?

The reason for identifying this special find was the observation of a Muslim believer who went to Hagia Sophia to pray (UNESCO condemned Turkey’s court decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque).

The Muslim saw that a stone about 10 cm long and 30 cm wide had come off a wall and notified the authorities.

Surprised, the police could not believe their eyes when they rushed to the spot, discovering five parchments with Hebrew writing (as they first estimated) hidden in a bag.

The first estimates for the parchments found in a crypt in Hagia Sophia were made by art historian Selçuk Eracun.

“The parchments are not written in Hebrew as originally written,” Selçuk Eracun told CNN Turk, adding that “one is written in Romanian and one in runic writing.”

“Some parchments contain wishes. The person who wrote the parchment in Romanian wishes good luck to his family. He also writes about his dream of living in America. “There are also the names of the children of his family,” he said.

He continued: “The other parchment contains writing similar to the runic alphabet used in Scandinavia.”

“As we can see, the parchments are not very old. Those who go to Hagia Sophia to pray, write wishes and leave them. It’s a tradition,” said the art historian.

“It is not uncommon to find parchments in crypts on the walls, as marble often falls,” he concluded.

Traces of Medieval Madrassa Uncovered in Turkey

Traces of Medieval Madrassa Uncovered in Turkey

The ruins of a 12th-century madrassa (Islamic school) have been discovered in Turkey’s southeast, one of the world’s oldest settlements on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, said the archaeologist leading the dig.

Excavation work has been going on for eight years in the Harran settlement in the Sanliurfa province, Mehmet Onal, head of the Archeology Department at Harran University, told Anadolu Agency.

Harran, a onetime Assyrian and Umayyad capital located 44 kilometres (27 miles) southeast of the city of Sanliurfa near the Syrian border, was an important Mesopotamian trade centre on a road running south to Nineveh in modern Iraq and has been continuously inhabited since 6,000 B.C.

Saying that Harran is frequently mentioned in history books because it is one of the world’s oldest settlements, Onal added that during 2021 excavations, they found important remains such as a street, a monumental gate, and a madrassa.

Monumental find

“During the excavations, a madrassa was found, which we have determined with archaeological evidence that it belongs to the Zengid era,” said Onal.

“Previously, it was known that Harran had five madrassas. This was the first time we came across one of these known madrassas of Harran.”

He said they have determined the structure had 24 rooms above ground, and have now completely exposed the monumental door of the madrassa with five rooms, and the portico partially, adding that there is also a kitchen next to those rooms with large stoves and a brick and clay oven.

“Another feature of the kitchen is there are many bones of sheep and goats inside the hearths and ovens. This shows us that food was prepared here and people here left the city in a rush, leaving the food on the stove without being eaten as if thoroughly convinced that Mongols would take over the city.”

Onal said that they determined that the madrasa belongs to the 12th century and that they will learn more after excavations in the region are completed.

World’s first university

Cihat Koc, a local official in Harran, said the history of education in Harran dates back to 3,000 B.C., adding that studies were carried out in such fields as astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, and theology.

Harran is a place that pioneered the science and scientific education, Koc said, adding: “With our work this year, we have unearthed the first of the five big madrassas, five big university campuses.

“The world’s first university is at Harran. We are seriously working to uncover all the ruins of this university,” he underlined.

The first excavations in Harran began in 1950.

The site has been on UNESCO’s tentative list since 2000.

READ ALSO: ARCHAEOLOGISTS IDENTIFY THE OLDEST MUSLIM GRAVES EVER FOUND IN EUROPE

Harran is an important ancient city where trade routes from Iskenderun to Antakya (ancient Antioch) and Kargam were located, according to UNESCO’s website.

“The city is mentioned in the Holy Bible,” says the website.

“It is important not only for hosting early civilizations but it is the place where the first Islamic university was founded. The traditional civil architecture, mudbrick houses with conic roofs, are unique.”

Origins of Japanese and Turkish language families traced back 9000 years

Origins of Japanese and Turkish language family traced back 9000 years

A study combining linguistic, genetic and archaeological evidence has traced the origins of the family of languages including modern Japanese, Korean, Turkish and Mongolian and the people who speak them to millet farmers who inhabited a region in northeastern China about 9,000 years ago.

The findings detailed on Wednesday document a shared genetic ancestry for the hundreds of millions of people who speak what the researchers call Transeurasian languages across an area stretching more than 8,000 km.

The findings illustrate how humankind’s embrace of agriculture following the Ice Age powered the dispersal of some of the world’s major language families. Millet was an important early crop as hunter-gatherers transitioned to an agricultural lifestyle.

Origins of Japanese and Turkish language family traced back 9000 years
A woman carrying millet, a crop whose cultivation prompted the spread of the proto-Transeurasian language

There are 98 Transeurasian languages. Among these are Korean and Japanese as well as: various Turkic languages including Turkish in parts of Europe, Anatolia, Central Asia and Siberia; various Mongolic languages including Mongolian in Central and Northeast Asia; and various Tungusic languages in Manchuria and Siberia.

This language family’s beginnings were traced to Neolithic millet farmers in the Liao River valley, an area encompassing parts of the Chinese provinces of Liaoning and Jilin and the region of Inner Mongolia.

As these farmers moved across northeastern Asia, the descendant languages spread north and west into Siberia and the steppes and east into the Korean peninsula and over the sea to the Japanese archipelago over thousands of years. The research underscored the complex beginnings for modern populations and cultures.

“Accepting that the roots of one’s language, culture or people lie beyond the present national boundaries is a kind of surrender of identity, which some people are not yet prepared to make,” said comparative linguist Martine Robbeets, leader of the Archaeolinguistic Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany and lead author of the study published in the journal Nature.

“Powerful nations such as Japan, Korea and China are often pictured as representing one language, one culture and one genetic profile. But a truth that makes people with nationalist agendas uncomfortable is that all languages, cultures and humans, including those in Asia, are mixed,” Robbeets added.

The researchers devised a dataset of vocabulary concepts for the 98 languages, identified a core of inherited words related to agriculture and fashioned a language family tree.

Archaeologist and study co-author Mark Hudson of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History said the researchers examined data from 255 archaeological sites in China, Japan, the Korean peninsula and the Russian Far East, assessing similarities in artefacts including pottery, stone tools and plant and animal remains. They also factored in the dates of 269 ancient crop remains from various sites.

The researchers determined that farmers in northeastern China eventually supplemented millet with rice and wheat, an agricultural package that was transmitted when these populations spread to the Korean peninsula by about 1300 BC and from there to Japan after about 1000 BC.

The researchers performed genomic analyses on the ancient remains of 23 people and examined existing data on others who lived in North and East Asia as long as 9,500 years ago. For example, a woman’s remains found in Yokchido in South Korea had 95% ancestry from Japan’s ancient Jomon people, indicating her recent ancestors had migrated over the sea.

“It is surprising to see that ancient Koreans reflect Jomon ancestry, which so far had only been detected in Japan,” Robbeets said. The origins of modern Chinese languages arose independently, though in a similar fashion with millet also involved.

While the progenitors of the Transeurasian languages grew broomcorn millet in the Liao River valley, the originators of the Sino-Tibetan language family farmed foxtail millet at roughly the same time in China’s Yellow River region, paving the way for a separate language dispersal, Robbeets said.