Marmaray artifacts suggest ancient settlements related

Marmaray artifacts suggest ancient settlements related

An archeologist examines a human skeleton found during construction in İstanbul. (Photo: AA, Şebnem Coşkun)

March 11, 2013, Monday/ 15:54:00

An excavation team has announced that evidence from two settlements in İstanbul dating back 8,500 years, uncovered during construction on the Marmaray Project, may indicate that their residents were related.

Digging conducted as part of the Marmaray Project to build a rail tube under the Bosporus that will connect Europe and Asia has led to the discovery of a large number of historical artifacts since work began in 2004, shedding light on the history of İstanbul.

Zeynep Kalkan, director of the İstanbul Archaeological Museum and head of the archeological team working alongside the construction crew, stated that a recent find in İstanbul's Pendik district, located on the Asian side of the Bosporus, included gravesites that contained numerous skeletons buried in the hocker position -- a fetal-like position where the arms are embracing the lower limbs – and items such as spoons, needles, kitchen utensils and tinderboxes. After a study by the team, experts announced that the residents of the settlement in Pendik and those of a settlement in Yenikapı, on the European side of the city, in 2004 may be related. “The finds in Pendik and in Yenikapı are very similar in terms of architecture, tools and form of burial. After a DNA analysis taken from skeletons from both settlements, we can be sure that they were related,” said Kalkan.

The excavation work for the public transportation project is being monitored by archaeologists from the museum. Various artifacts have been found, including human skeletons, church ruins, water wells and fossilized footprints, and nearly 1 million cases of earthenware pots and plates have been uncovered thus far. One of the most outstanding historical artifacts to be unearthed is the fourth-century Port of Theodosius from the Byzantine era. Moreover, 36 sunken ships -- 30 of which were merchant vessels equipped with sails and five of which were galleys propelled by rowers -- that sank between the fifth and 11th centuries have also been located. All the pieces undergo classification and if possible, broken artifacts are restored. Some 40,000 historical items which help to illuminate the ancient history of İstanbul have been discovered during the archeological work, carried out by 500 laborers and 60 experts.

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