Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Excavations restarting at İkiztepe in northern Turkey

İkiztepe ancient site, which was discovered by archaeologists in 1940 in the Black Sea city of Samsun's Bafra district, is being excavated for 36 years and nearly 11,550 artifacts have been unearthed so far. This year's archaeology excavations has restarted in the region and will continue until Sept 10.

Excavations at İkiztepe, which have continued in the Black Sea province of Samsun’s Bafra district since 1974, are being carried out in the area again this year.

İkiztepe was discovered in 1940 by archaeologists who carried out excavations in the Dündartepe region around Samsun.

Many artifacts from the early Bronze Age (3000-2000) and the Hittite period (1900-1800 BC) have been unearthed so far during the excavations led by the Istanbul University Archaeology Department’s Professor Önder Bilgi.

“This year’s excavations, which have continued in İkiztepe for 36 years, will end on Sept. 10,” said Bilgi, adding that they finished works in one area last year and searched for layers of the early Bronze Age period.

“The number of findings that have been unearthed in İkiztepe reached nearly 11,550. Last year’s excavations were carried out at Hill One and have ended. This year’s excavations continue on a slope that we call İkiztepe. A team of 34 people, including five students and three expert anthropologists, is working there. Last year significant artworks were found, revealing the cultural development in the region. We also had a chance to profile the layers of the early Bronze Age. Two furnaces and two graves have been unearthed so far,” Bilgi said, adding that the archaeology excavations shed light on the cultural history of the central Black Sea.

Settlements until 1700 BC

During the excavations, which had been carried out at the ancient site, traces of Caolithic period (between 5000-4000 BC) were found, which revealed that the settlement existed there until 1700 B.C.

A tumulus from the Hellenistic period (330-39 BC) was found as well as a number of artworks and remnants from the early Bronze Age. Weapons, furnaces, symbols, jewelry and stone tablets found during the excavations show that the people of İkiztepe played an important role in the development of the Anatolian art of mining. It is known that they used a mixture of copper and arsenic in metal objects, and it is estimated that they obtained copper from the Merzifon region and arsenic from Gümüşhacıköy in present-day Amasya.

The most interesting findings unearthed during the excavations are skulls, which underwent surgical operation. In the graveyard on the highest hill in the ancient site, dating back to 2300-2100 BC, eight out of the 690 skeletons had skulls with traces of surgical operation. These skulls have archaeological importance since they are the only ones unearthed in Anatolia. They also show that people who lived there did not have the characteristics of Mediterranean people but of southern Russians and Bulgarians.

Some of the findings from the İkiztepe excavations are being displayed at the Samsun Archaeological and Ethnography Museum.

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