8,000-year-old footprints to be displayed at İstanbul museum

8,000-year-old footprints to be displayed at İstanbul museum

Archeological digs at Yenikapı have revealed hundreds of footprints dating back 8,000 years. (Photo: Today's Zaman)

April 02, 2012, Monday/ 15:11:00

The İstanbul Archeological Museum will be exhibiting casts of hundreds of footprints dating back 8,000 years that were discovered during ongoing archeological digs at Yenikapı, the site of work for a key transfer hub in İstanbul's metro system.

A total of 390 footprints have emerged since the first footprint discovery was made in September of last year. The prints were discovered eight meters below sea level. Archaeologist Sırrı Çömlekçi told press at the weekend that while casts of 88 of the prints were made last year, the majority will be transferred to the museum in the next few months when temperatures at night are at least 10 degrees.

“We haven't been able to work on making casts of the prints due to the cold winter temperatures. At present the weather is still very unpredictable, but we hope to recommence our work as soon as temperatures stabilize a little,” he said, commenting that the prints are a fascinating sign of civilization thousands of years ago.

Çömlekçi told reporters that the process of making casts of the prints is a delicate one -- first involving careful measuring, photographing and drawing of the prints and an analysis of whether, for example, those who had left the marks were carrying bags on their backs or were walking with bare feet -- followed by a process of molding and casting to make copies of the prints to be displayed to the public.

“People walked in the mud here thousands of years ago and left footprints, which dried to leave clearly defined marks,” Çömlekçi said, explaining that there was an old riverbed running alongside the site where the footprints were left. “When the riverbed flooded the footprints were covered first in layers of fine sand and then gravel and clay,” he said, adding that the layering of materials that don't mix allowed the footprints to be preserved over time.

The excavations at the 58,000-square-meter Yenikapı site began eight years ago, during which period thousands of centuries-old artifacts have been unearthed, including the fourth century Port of Theodosius, the remains of Byzantine ships and skeletons.

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