Archaeological News

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Two ancient tomb covers, which were found during the rehabilitation of an underpass in Istanbul’s historical peninsula, have been delivered to Istanbul Archaeology Museum, but only after being damaged in the construction work.

The tomb parts were discovered while a bulldozer was working to remove asphalt on the Vezneciler Underpass, next to the main door of Istanbul University, as part of a project which started Aug. 5. The Istanbul Archaeology Museum was informed when the tombs were found, albeit after they were damaged due by the heavy construction vehicle.

The area was defined as a “necropolis” in the ancient era of the city. Read more.

To the left of the Silivrikapı Walls in Istanbul’s Fatih neighborhood, there lies a tomb from the fourth century A.D., which is now in ruins. Known as the Silivri Crypt, the tomb, which has been suffering since its discovery in 1988, is now in its worst state.

The Silivrikapı Crypt, which was found by Professor Ümit Serdaroğlu, dates back to the fourth century A.D. at the time of the eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius. The tomb was restored in 1989 by the Istanbul Municipality but has been looted many times since its restoration. The reliefs that cover the crypt were stolen in 1993, only to be rediscovered and given to the Istanbul Museum of Archeology. The frescoes which were also restored were damaged over time. The historical Byzantine tomb is now no different than a junkyard. Read more.

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.