[See more at:
x0x Tunnel digging reveals new chapter in Istanbul's history
Friday, November 14, 2008
Istanbul: The chance uncovering of 8,000-year-old
human urns, ashes, clothes and utensils while
digging for an undersea metro tunnel in Istanbul
is a stunning find that throws new light on the
historic past of the Turkish capital, say
As a result, heavy machines have been stopped from
digging into this part of the tunnel, being built
under the Bosporus or Istanbul Strait to connect
the Asian and European parts of this city.
Once the seat of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman
empires, Istanbul is said to be the third largest
city of the world today with a population of more
than 11 million.
Ismail Karamut, director of Istanbul Archaeology
Museum, told the local Hurriyet Daily News the
urns and other artefacts uncovered during the
digging were "extremely important".
Besides the urns, the excavation has uncovered
ashes wrapped in cloth, used clothes and other
belongings of the dead. One urn contained the
skeleton of a baby. Experts believe it was very
likely that this area was a burial site, the
Archeologists said the findings reveal that
Istanbul had a thriving human settlement much
before the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.
Terming them as sensational, associate professor
Necmi Karul, branch chairperson for the
Archeologists Community in Istanbul, said: "In
Anatolian archaeology, there were no urn burials
from the Neolithic Age. It is definitely a burial
site because they are side by side. They date back
to 5800-6000 BC, the last of the Neolithic Age".
Karamut said permission for use of heavy machines
for the digging of the tunnel would be given at a
later date when the excavation work was over.
Ever since work on this ambitious Turkish project
started a few years ago, an archaeological
treasure trove has been unearthed - like an intact
1,000-year old wooden boat. But the latest finding
has surpassed them all.
The tunnel under Bosporus is being constructed to
meet the heavy traffic need of this burgeoning
metropolis, which has the rare distinction of
being spread over two continents -- Asia and
Right now, two bridges - the 1,074-metre-long
Bosporus Bridge built in 1973 and the
1,090-meter-long Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge
constructed in 1988 - connect the two parts of
Istanbul separated by Bosporus.
Plans are also afoot for a third bridge while the
construction on this 13.7-km-long undersea metro
tunnel is expected to be over by 2012. Being built
at an estimated cost of more than $3.5 billion, it
would be one of the world's deepest tube tunnels
once completed, at 75 metres below sea level.