Archaeological News

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A 174-year-old marble globe in the middle of Istanbul’s historical peninsula went missing last month, daily Milliyet reported on April 22.

The globe came from a shrine, ordered to be built by Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid for his father Mahmud II in the Çemberlitaş neighborhood in 1840. The Ottoman-Armenian royal architects Ohannes and Bogos Dadyan completed the shrine in empirical style, including a 2.5-meter high drinking fountain on one of its corners, which was also decorated with a 70 cm-wide marble globe.

Officials from the Directorate of Shrines cannot explain how the globe was lost. Read more.

An archaeological discovery in suburban Istanbul could soon force a rewrite in history books as new research has shown that the early Hittites actually ventured onto the European continent, having previously been assumed to have remained only in Asia.

“Istanbul has a new historic peninsula now. The first traces of the Hurrians in Istanbul shows the importance of these excavations. This is a big discovery to reach the traces of the Hittites in Europe,” said Istanbul Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Ahmet Emre Bilgili, according to daily Radikal.

“We have shed light on a dark era of Istanbul,” said Culture and Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik. Read more.

Those tired of the waiting line to enter Sultanahmet’s famous Basilica Cistern will soon have another visiting option following the discovery of a still-active cistern beneath Nuruosmaniye Mosque next to the Grand Bazaar.

The 265-year-old cistern was only discovered during renovations to the mosque, according to Foundations Istanbul Provincial Director İbrahim Özekinci.

“We removed 420 trucks’ worth of slime from the cistern. Then the magnificent gallery, cistern and water gauge became visible. The Ottomans used a modern system according to contemporary earthquake regulations. This cistern is really a magnificent one, it is very special. Read more.

The movement of 37 sunken vessels, that were unearthed during excavations carried out as part of the Istanbul Marmaray and metro projects, has finally been concluded. 

The head of Istanbul University’s Department of Marine Archaeology and the Yenikapı Sunken Ships Project, Associate Professor Ufuk Kocabaş, said works had continued for eight years. He added that the structures and tens of thousands of archaeological artifacts found in Theodosis Port, one of the most important ports in the city in the Middle Ages, represented the largest Middle Ages boat collection in the world. 

Kocabaş said scientific works were still ongoing on the sunken ships remains. “The oldest sunken vessel is about 1,500 years old and they have all seen the destructive power of the nature until now. Read more.

Excavations in Istanbul’s only Byzantine castle, Yoros, will come to a close at the end of this month. During excavations this year some 80 artifacts have been unearthed. 

The Yoros Castle, which is located in the city’s Anadolukavağı neighborhood and whose date of construction is not known exactly, has been hosting excavation teams of the Istanbul University since 2010. The excavation team, made up of archaeologists, art historians, faculty members, university students and veterinaries, has so far revealed lots of artifacts. 

Among this year’s artifacts are a bronze pestle, mazarine, tile, pellet, measuring glass, Venetian glasses, perfume bottles, coins, Tophane pipe bowls and many others. Read more.

The Istanbul branch of the Association of Archaeologists has warned that excavations within the historical Yedikule gardens are destroying the remains of Istanbul’s old town. 

Earthmovers have been digging one meter deep next to the Byzantine-era walls in the Yedikule Gardens and destroying parts of the walls since July 6 as part of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s project to construct a park with a decorative pool, a statement by the association read. 

The gardens, which are a UNESCO-protected site, lie along the old city walls and across the way from the Sea of Marmara and a different park of pathways that hugs the shoreline. Read more.

An inscription dating back to the sixth or seventh century that was stolen from Istanbul’s Yoros Castle has been found buried in a barn in the city’s Anatolian-side district of Beykoz. 

Acting on a tip, the Istanbul Police Department searched a house in Beykoz’s Tokat village. During an excavation in a barn directly next to the house, police officers found the castle’s inscription and subsequently informed the Istanbul Archaeology Museums Directorate. 

Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News, the head of the Yoros Castle excavations, Professor Asnu Bilban Yalçın, said they were disheartened by the theft but happy to have learned of the inscription’s discovery. “The inscription is a very significant part of the historic castle,” she said. 
The inscription, which has a cross on it, is thought to have been from the Eastern Roman period, according to Anatolia news agency. Read more.

ISTANBUL, FEBRUARY 10 - Numerous archaeological excavations are underway at a huge site in Anatolia which will uncover an ancient and rich yet forgotten kingdom known as Tuwana from the darkness of history, which will be featured in an open-air museum. The news was reported by Lorenzo d’Alfonso, an Italian archaeologist leading the joint mission by the University of Pavia and NYU, who provided details on the excavation campaign in a press conference in Istanbul this month, during which the details of the Italian archaeological missions in Turkey were explained.

This “new discovery” from the pre-classical age which “needs to be continued” in southern Cappadocia took place in Kinik Hoyuk, the scholar said, referring to a site mainly involving the beginning of the first millennium BC. The area is “fully” part of the “forgotten kingdom” of Tuwana, said d’Alfonso, known until now through hieroglyphics and from several sources from the Assyrian Empire, but “never studied archaeologically”: “A completely intact site that has been left untouched”, trying to “place it historically to understand which civilisation it belonged to and what it’s role was in the region”. Read more.