March 29, 2011

8,000-year-old remains of early Anatolians discovered in Istanbul

Two skeletons dating back 8,500 years, making them the oldest ever found in what is now Turkey, have been discovered during archaeological excavations in Istanbul’s Yenikapı area.

“Such remains have not been discovered during the excavation before; these are the oldest graves in Anatolia,” said Dr. Yasemin Yılmaz, an expert on anthropology and prehistory, who expressed excitement about the find.




According to Yılmaz, the use of wooden blocks – preserved to this day – to cover the coffins makes them distinctive from other finds.

Since the excavations around Yenikapı, the site of the ongoing construction on the Marmaray tunnel underneath the Marmara Sea, started in 2004, many shipwrecks, amphoras, cemeteries and around 40,000 artifacts have been uncovered in the area.

Several archaeologists have collaborated with some 200 workers to carefully excavate a 60,000-square-meter area where many traces of human history have been discovered 16 meters belowground and nine meters below sea level. The two ancient coffins were found 40 days ago but only revealed recently by the excavation team.

“Istanbul is said to have a 2,500-year-old history. With the Marmaray excavations, we have revealed that Istanbul has an 8,000-year-old history,” Çömlekçi said. “This is the biggest open-air excavation. There is no such research in any other place. The artifacts being found here illustrate the richness of the history of Istanbul and Anatolia.”

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: 8,000-year-old remains of early Anatolians discovered in Istanbul

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