40,000 historical artifacts unearthed during Marmaray excavations

Around 40,000 historical artifacts have so far been discovered in excavations conducted as part of the Marmaray Project. (Photo: Today’s Zaman, Hüseyin Sarı)

December 12, 2012, Wednesday/ 16:51:00

Excavations conducted as part of the Marmaray Project, which will connect Europe and Asia with a railway tube under the Bosporus, continue to shed light on the history of İstanbul, having facilitated the discovery of around 40,000 historical artifacts since 2004.

Zeynep Kalkan, director of the İstanbul Archaeological Museum and head of the excavations, stated that 90 percent of the excavations have been completed. They have been carried out by 500 workers and 60 experts since 2004. Around 40,000 historical artifacts which revealed the 8,500-year history of İstanbul have been discovered by the excavation team.

Since the beginning of the excavations various kinds of relics have been found such as skeletons, church ruins, water wells and footprints. One of the most prominent historical artifacts that has been unearthed is the fourth century port of Theodosius belonging to the Byzantine Empire. Nearly 1 million cases of earthenware pots and plates have been uncovered thus far. All the pieces undergo classification and, if possible, broken pieces are restored.

During the archeological dig, 36 sunken ships -- 30 of which are merchant vessels equipped with sails and five of which are galleys propelled by rowers -- that sank between the fifth and 11th centuries have been uncovered. The excavations, which have continued uninterrupted for eight years, have revealed artifacts from various historical periods, the most recent being the late Ottoman era, while objects from the early Ottoman, Byzantine, Roman and Classical periods have also been discovered.

Kızıltan further said that every single piece found by the excavation team is classified in their workshop. After the cleaning and documentation of artifacts they are sent to the İstanbul Archaeology Museum to be displayed.

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