Sunday, 15 April 2018

War savages old destinations in Yemen and Iraq, wrecking archeological record

MUNICH, GERMANY—another front has opened in the obliteration of archeological legacy in the Middle East. Crosswise over northern Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State (IS) aggregate crushed relics amid its reign of fear beginning in 2014, pounding established statues, for example, those of Palmyra in Syria and bulldozing a 3000-year-old ziggurat at Iraq's Nimrud. The IS aggregate has now been steered by Iraqi and Syrian powers, controling the demolition however giving archeologists a firsthand take a gander at a result that is grimmer than numerous had anticipated. In the interim, the strike on relic has stretched out to Yemen, 2000 kilometers toward the south, another archeological fortune house riven by struggle.

"Our interminable history has been squandered by wars," regretted Mohanad Ahmad al-Sayani, seat of Yemen's General Organization of Antiquities and Museums in Sana'a.

In Yemen, the social misfortunes have gone to a great extent unnoticed by the more extensive world however are definitely felt by archeologists. Despite the fact that the nation has been far less concentrated than Mesopotamia, it assumed a basic part in the ascent of realms and economies in the locale beginning around 1000 B.C.E., analysts said at a gathering here a week ago of the International Congress on the Archeology of the Ancient Near East.

By 1200 B.C.E., the kingdom of Saba in what is currently focal Yemen controlled the fare of frankincense, got from a tree that became just along the nation's southern drift. The prized tar was scorched for a thousand years and a half in sanctuaries from Persia to Rome. The huge abundance of Saba—home to the scriptural Queen of Sheba—financed noteworthy sanctuaries, urban areas, and building wonders. Among them was the Marib Dam, based on Wadi Adhanah in the eighth century B.C.E. to help grow horticulture in this dry district; some claim it is the world's most seasoned dam.

Today, Yemen is racked by common war and Islamic radicals who, in a battle against sin, have obliterated old mosques in the port city of Aden, and a multidomed place of worship in the Hadhramaut district.

Yemen's social legacy harmed in war

Bombs dropped by a Saudi-drove coalition have harmed the old Marib Dam, a gallery in Dhamar, and medieval strongholds in Aden and Sana'a.

A. Cuadra/Science

Bombs dropped by the Saudi-drove coalition have wreaked the most harm, Al-Sayani said. The Marib Dam, in a uninhabited territory a long way from the capital, was struck in 2015, leaving a profound slice in the all around protected northern conduit entryway. The provincial historical center of Dhamar in the southwest, which contained a huge number of curios from the Himyarite Kingdom, was totally decimated. The Himyarites vanquished Saba in 280 C.E., assumed control over the frankincense restraining infrastructure, and ended up enter players in the growing Indian Ocean exchange between the Roman Empire and India until Ethiopian powers ousted them in 525 C.E.

Al-Sayani demonstrated pictures from twelve straightened or seriously harmed locales, including medieval châteaux such Aden's Sira Fortress, and the hundreds of years old al-Qassimi neighborhood in Sana'a. In excess of 60 locales have been wrecked or extremely harmed since the contention started in 2015, Al-Sayani stated, predominantly from Saudi bombings. Albeit some were key targets, he charged that the Saudi assaults were a cognizant battle to wreck Yemen's legacy and debilitate its natives. "Following 3 years of surveying the harm, I trust the bombarding is being finished with a reason, since a considerable lot of these locales are not appropriate or helpful for military utilize," he says.

The devastation appears to be ponder, concurs prehistorian Sarah Japp of Berlin's German Archeological Institute. "The Saudis were given data on essential social legacy destinations, including definite directions," by UNESCO, said Japp, who was situated in Sana'a before the war. UNESCO proposed to ensure the destinations, yet she fears that the information may rather have been utilized for focusing on. "There is no motivation to state these [bombings] are simply mischances." The Saudi international safe haven in Berlin and authorities in Riyadh did not react to rehashed demands for input.

In the mean time, 2000 kilometers toward the north in Syria and Iraq, the harm fashioned by years of IS bunch control is just now coming into center. "It is absolutely a disaster," said Michel al-Maqdissi, previous head of unearthings in Syria's relics office in Damascus, who now works at the Louver in Paris and keeps up contacts in Syria.

A portion of the most noticeably bad reports originate from Mari, a 60-hectare site on the banks of the Euphrates River that 4000 years prior was one of the world's biggest urban communities. Only north of Sumer and the Akkadian Empire, Mari filled in as a key exchanging community for Mesopotamian merchandise and Anatolian metals and stone, and once bragged the best saved early royal residence in the Middle East.

Be that as it may, never again. Excavator Pascal Butterlin of Pantheon-Sorbonne University in Paris, who worked at Mari for a considerable length of time and has accumulated data from Syrian sources, showed a picture of the royal residence starting from the earliest stage appears close aggregate obliteration of Mari's focal zone. The site's antiquated statues were expelled to historical centers long back, so the explanations for the annihilation stay dinky, in spite of the fact that the IS gathering's want to benefit from relics is notable. An adjacent vast hill called Tell Medkouk was bulldozed totally to uncover objects for plundering. From satellite information on the focal point of Mari, Butterlin gauges that marauders burrowed around 1500 pits, a large number of them in excess of 5 meters profound and 6 meters wide. The vehicle tracks "influence it to appear as though they had congested driving conditions there," he said. He associates that thousands with plundered cuneiform tablets, little puppets, and bronze items won't appear on the workmanship advertise for quite a long time, as dealers sit tight for global shock to cool.

The circumstance is surprisingly more dreadful at Dura-Europos, which up to this point was an amazingly all around safeguarded city upstream of Mari. From the main century B.C.E., this city lay on the outskirts of the Roman and Persian realms, which alternated controlling it, and once held both one of the world's most established Jewish synagogues and most established Christian places of worship. "The size of the catastrophe there is significant," said Chekmous Ali, a Syrian paleontologist now at the University of Strasbourg in France. "There are incalculable pits—exactly 9500—and the necropolis is no more."

Over the fringe in Iraq, the old city of Mosul once gloated a large group of Islamic and Christian landmarks, numerous decimated or harmed amid the IS gathering's 3 years of control. In any case, the most noticeably bad demolition came the previous summer, when in excess of 30,000 bombs and rockets hit notable structures amid the fight for the city, said Karel Nováček of Palacký University Olomouc in the Czech Republic. "The old city was destroyed," he said at the gathering. He charges that the demolition proceeds, as Iraqi development groups clear the destruction without attempting to protect what's left or count the harm.

"The legacy administration is nonexistent," he said. "We require watchful expulsion of the rubble, yet that isn't going on." His group is gathering what information they can from old reports and photos that could give some premise to remaking noteworthy destinations. He intends to lead an on-the-ground appraisal in June, with expectations of giving Iraqis an opportunity to repair what they container of their battered social legacy.
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Monday, 12 March 2018

Excavations Set To Restart On Giresun Island Off Turkish Black Sea Coast

Archaeological excavations that have been persevering with sporadically on Giresun (Greek Aretias) island considering the fact that 2011 will restart quickly. The island is the handiest inhabited island inside the Eastern Black Sea area.

Excavations set to restart on Giresun island off Turkish Black Sea coast
Credit: Hurriyet Daily News
Ancient Greek memories stated the island became used by Amazons, the warrior girls of legend, for fertility ceremonies and capabilities within the story of the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece. Archaeological excavations had been undertaken in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016.

The examinations at the Byzantine-technology tombs, partitions, the ruins of a monastery and a chapel that have been unearthed at some point of excavations display that the island served as a spiritual middle for decades.

Giresun Museum Director Hulusi Güleç said only 10 percent of the island has been excavated thus far however they intention to work in each a part of the island beginning from this yr.

Güleç stated excavations are planned to begin in the ultimate week of June and the Special Provincial Administration had supplied the allocation.

He said the earliest ruins at the island date back to the 4th century B.C. But the team has unearthed lines of existence from 2,000 B.C.

“We have now not reached concrete evidence approximately it yet. Now we plan to locate them throughout the subsequent excavations on the entire island. We purpose to find out whether or not humans lived on Giresun island heaps of years ago,” Güleç introduced.

Amazons and the Golden Fleece

“Many mythological resources seek advice from the fact that the Amazon women lived on an island inside the Black Sea. Especially, the life of the Amazons inside the Balck Sea is understood. Mythological sources document that the Amazons left for the Trojan War over the Black Sea and lived on an island. The only island inside the Eastern Black Sea region is in Giresun. It proves that the Amazons lived on the Giresun Island,” Güleç stated.

Güleç said some of spearheads and arrow heads had been located in the course of excavations that may be linked to the Amazons.

According to the Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodius the Argonauts arrived on Aretias Island early in their quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece. Fierce birds using arrow-like feathers fought towards the troops but have been anxious away with the sound of swords clanging on shields.

Güleç introduced that the imminent excavations will with any luck verify the myths with new findings during further excavations.
Read greater at https://archaeologynewsnetwork.Blogspot.Com/2018/03/excavations-set-to-restart-on-giresun.Html#5mEE5PVi1TBeDTqO.Ninety nine
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Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Archaeologist says recreation-converting new laser generation application is not any magic wand

For over 3 decades, archaeologist Anabel Ford, Director of the Mesoamerican Research Center of the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been exploring and studying the historical Maya web site of El Pilar. Divided alongside the imaginary line between western Belize and northeastern Guatemala, El Pilar is considered the biggest web site inside the Belize River location, boasting over 25 known plazas and masses of different structures, covering a place of approximately a hundred and twenty acres. Monumental construction at El Pilar started within the Middle Preclassic period, around 800 BCE, and at its peak centuries later it supported greater than 20,000 people. Visitors today can see a number of its structural remains revealed via archaeology, although Ford has taken care to ensure that maximum of it remains un-exposed, enshrouded and consequently covered within its jungle cover. She is as a whole lot an ardent conservationist as she is an archaeologist. 

She is also among the pioneering archaeologists who've lately carried out a brand new technology, called LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, a remote sensing approach the usage of pulsed laser to “see”, frequently from airborne gadgets or aircraft, what cannot be visible on the floor from the air with the aid of the naked eye. Over the beyond few years it has been used to discover a far large historic Maya international — including huge systems and different cultural functions which have remained invisible because they have been hidden for centuries under the dense cloak of a tropical landscape. The media has sensationalized a few latest LiDAR-related discoveries via different archaeological groups, together with the detection of greater than 60,000 historic Maya cultural features inside Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve, touted in a National Geographic article as a “primary leap forward” in Maya archaeology; and the University of Arizona article that pronounced the invention of thousands more structures previously undetected within the vicinity of historic Ceibal, also in Guatemala. And Ford, now already a veteran of four years making use of LiDAR to El Pilar and its surrounding vicinity, has already “blanketed 10 km2”  of the forested area through applying the new era.  

But she is not hesitant to add that “LiDAR is not a magic wand”.* She asserts that “there may be still a crucial want to apply floor-truthing techniques to validate findings by archaeologists inside the discipline”.* What she means is that, once an preliminary LiDAR survey is carried out, the lengthy and heavy-obligation paintings of verifying the information consists of bodily identifying and/or uncovering the corresponding features on the floor. “In the course of our subject validation over the last 4 years,” she writes in a current file of her findings, “we've got found out tons approximately the relationship among the panorama and the LiDAR-primarily based visualizations, and importantly between the visualizations and the validation of cultural features. It really all boils right down to setting “boots on the floor.”* 

In other words, though the startling and super preliminary discoveries being made with LiDAR from the air may be grist for sensational news tales, it most effective tells a small part of the whole story of discovery, the most vital component of which takes location on the surface through the tough paintings of floor-truthing — testing the visual facts with the reality at the ground. Ford has already so far “confirmed 1,214 “GoTo” factors, mapped 1,335 new cultural capabilities, verified 611 home structures, and mapped 7 civic monumental web sites”, in line with her file.* Through her efforts with LiDAR in 2013, she additionally uncovered and described the capabilities of a unique Maya monumental structure at El Pilar which she has dubbed the “Citadel”, an architectural edifice and not using a precedent in the Maya international.

Given the large amounts of records that LiDAR has supplied, says Ford, the resulting research, evaluation and basis will pass on for years to come, commencing a substantially elevated window at the historical Maya international.

Ford and her colleagues file approximately the findings in a piece of writing posted in the approaching Spring 2018 problem of Popular Archaeology Magazine, to be launched in March.
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Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Complex buildings and buried architectural stays unearthed in Valley of Argolis

The new findings from the "Ormos Valley" research project, at Lampayanas in southern Argolis, had been announced via Greece's Ministry of Culture.

The "Ormos Valley" software is conducted beneath the course of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities with the collaboration of the University of Geneva, below the auspices of the Swiss Archaeological School in Greece.

It ambitions at reading immersed prehistoric web sites in a small bay of southern Argolis, near the famous archaeological web page of the Frachthi Cave.

In 2015, a sufficiently large (at the least 1.2 hectare) agreement of the Early Bronze Age became positioned in the sea region of Lampayanna Beach, north of the Bay. Some architectural remains are visible at the lowest, at 1-3 meters deep, at the same time as more will be buried below the marine sediments. From 2016, studies has focused on exploring the volume and dating of the agreement.

The 2017 survey commenced with submarine topography and geophysical measurements. Following the previous work at Lampagianna Beach, the lowest-view architectural remains have been further mapped, and the electrical resistivity tomography persevered to the north of the seashore in shallow water. Preliminary consequences indicate the life of more complex homes, in addition to many buried architectural remains.

Submarine excavations observed on a bigger floor than in 2016 and improved strategies. Under the layer of Early Helladic II (inside the third millennium BC, to which the seen architectural stays correspond to the bottom) a wall of Early Helladic I (early 3rd millennium) turned into found out. Another older bed, which may be dated even at some stage in the transition period between the Neolithic and the Early Bronze Age, was also investigated. The findings include huge quantities of purple shells. However, it is still impossible to decide what they were used for.

The 2017 excavation, which ran from three July to 11 August, was executed below the obligation of Dr. Angeliki Simosi, Director of Underwater Antiquities, and Professor Karl Reber, Director of the Swiss Archaeological School in Greece.
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Thursday, 1 March 2018

Shelters with echoes thought to be preferred sites for prehistoric rock art

The acoustic qualities of a rock shelter may have been a key factor in its selection as a site for rock art and indicate a spiritual significance to the practice, according to a recent study, while scientists are also looking into whether some caves were chosen as artistic sites because of the view.

Shelters with echoes thought to be preferred sites for prehistoric rock art
Scientists believe that rock art sites were chosen for their visual and acoustic properties
[Credit: Curt Harrell]
Professor Margarita Díaz-Andreu and Dr. Tommaso Mattioli, both from the University of Barcelona, Spain, spent two years visiting rock art sites in France, Italy and Spain to compare acoustics and assess their relevance to the choice of location.

'In a cliff such as Baume Brune (in Vaucluse, France), with 43 shelters, why were only eight selected to be painted?' said Prof. Díaz-Andreu. 'There are other apparently similar ones nearby that were left empty. Why?'

Armed with a specialised portable tool for measuring acoustics, the researchers showed the rock art sites studied have distinct acoustic features.

These take the form of either many echoes in the shelters where the art was found, or strong reverberations. At some sites, it was possible to hear sounds from great distances. Other undecorated shelters in the area lacked these special effects.

'We found that in all of the areas that we tested, the people who had chosen places to decorate had selected places with good acoustics,' said Prof. Díaz-Andreu. In two particular sites, the team demonstrated that the places that were decorated were those with more echoes.


This suggests that the rock art sites were used for rituals, or religious ceremonies, and may or may not have involved music.

'As archaeologists we are obsessed with material culture,' said Prof. Diaz-Andreu, 'But in fact, sound and music are very important to the way in which we feel and the way we react. Sound has special properties that facilitate us to reach a type of mental state that is prone to enhance religious feelings.'

Dr. Jamie Hampson, a researcher at the University of York, UK, who works on a project exploring the modern-day use of rock art (see below), agreed that the rock art has spiritual significance. 'We've got a lot of ethnography from groups in South Africa in particular about the rock face being a veil between this world and the spirit world,' he said.

Prof. Díaz-Andreu and Dr. Mattioli believe that prehistoric humans may have used echolocation techniques such as tongue clicks, cane tapping and handclapping to select the shelters. However, this is impossible to prove.

'Clicking and handclapping do not leave a trace in the archaeological record,' Prof. Díaz-Andreu said.

Rock art is found at hundreds of thousands of sites throughout the world. Throughout history, people from all walks of life have used rock carvings, engravings and paintings to express themselves, and the oldest sites found are more than 65,000 years old.

Manual rubbings

Up until now, researchers have had to take manual rubbings of rock art to analyse in the lab. But this low-tech, 2-D and labour-intensive option meant that important data, such as colour and the 3-D nature of indentations in the rock, were missing.

Now, new zoomable 3-D digital models of rock art sites are providing archaeologists with better tools for analysing data – and they could shed light on why certain sites were chosen. They could also help archaeologists work out whether traces at certain sites are man-made or natural, and potentially identify the styles of individual artists.

Dr. Sue Cobb of the University of Nottingham, UK, led the 3-D-PITOTI project, which developed fully interactive virtual replicas of several rock art sites at Valcamonica, Northern Italy, in high detail.

She said: 'The archaeologists were looking for a way to analyse the content that they were studying in more detail and in different ways. They wanted a better way to view and compare small details of different rock art figures, identify families of figures, and make the 3-D rock art available to their fellow colleagues and the public.'

To build the models, the project team developed an entirely new scanning device to collect images of the rock surface. Specially designed to capture the colour of the rock art and intricate details, at the same time it is lightweight and portable enough to be easily transported across inaccessible areas, hence the nickname 'walking-stick scanner'.

The scanner is so powerful it can reconstruct surface points at 0.1 millimetre spatial resolution, and uses a high=powered flash.

A feature of the finished 3-D models is that you can zoom in and out from the images easily, and virtually fly over the sites. To achieve this effect, the team took photographs from near-range, mid-range and far-range locations to capture the rock art from a range of distances and angles.

The 3-D models can be viewed via a 3-D multi-user touch table, a multi-user 3-D wall display, or individual tablets. Tourists can use the models in museums and visitor centres, to view rock art that is inaccessible or highly vulnerable to damage.

As well as providing a faithful record of art that is one day likely to vanish from exposure to wind, rain and snow, the highly detailed 3-D models are helping scientists answer questions such as whether the view from a particular place was important in selecting the site for decoration.

'Archaeologists can compare rock art images located in different sites,' said Dr. Cobb. 'They ask—is there anything meaningful about those locations and the images of rock art that are placed at that site that can help us understand why that site was meaningful to people at that time?'

Modern-day use of rock art imagery

Rock art sites can be a big tourist draw and scientists have been looking at how the experience can best be managed. Dr. Jamie Hampson from the University of York found that visitor perceptions of artwork and the management of rock art sites in South Africa, Australia and the US were enhanced when there were indigenous tour guides and staff at the sites.

'A lot of visitors point out how much more meaningful their experience is if they're accompanied by a guide who is part of an indigenous group in the area,' explained Dr. Hampson.

It's clear that for many indigenous people, rock art holds a symbolic and spiritual meaning. However, it is often used to create tourist memorabilia, without seeking permission from the relevant indigenous people. Certain images are considered sacred and are not suitable for this kind of use.

'So much of this is about respect and courtesy and taking all possible measures to ensure permission is granted before images are borrowed,' said Dr. Hampson.

The work done by Dr. Hampson's ROCKART project encouraged the employment of more indigenous staff at heritage sites, and raised awareness about image appropriation. The project also aided several Aboriginal corporations in Australia to set up and run their own rock art visitor centres, fueling entrepreneurship in remote areas.

Author: Catherine Collins | Source: Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine [March 01, 2018]

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Wednesday, 28 February 2018

700-year-old bronze ring bearing image of St. Nicholas discovered in Galilee

A rare and impressive intact bronze ring from the Middle Ages, bearing the image of St. Nicholas, was discovered by chance during recent landscaping work in the garden of a home in the Jezreel Valley community of Moshav Hayogev. St. Nicholas is best known as the source of the beloved, gift-giving Christmas figure of Santa Claus. To date, there is no comparable ring in the Israel Antiquities Authority National Treasure Department.

700-year-old bronze ring bearing image of St. Nicholas discovered in Galilee
The ring bearing the image of St. Nicholas [Credit: Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority]
Gardener Dekel Ben-Shitrit, 26, was weeding on Thursday when his eye caught an object among the plants. He picked it up and noticed it had a human figure on it. “I rubbed it slightly and I saw it was carved with a human image inside a frame.” Ben-Shitrit, who lives in Kibbutz Hazorea, posted a photograph of the ring on Facebook, hoping to get some information about it. His neighbor on the kibbutz, Dr. Dror Ben-Yosef, director of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority’s Lower Galilee Education Center, saw it and connected Ben-Shitrit with the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The ring, dating from the 12th–15th centuries, was examined by Dr. Yana Tchekhanovetz, Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist specializing in the Byzantine period. “This special ring is amazingly well preserved and will contribute a great deal to science. On the ring is the image of a bald man with a staff next to him. On preliminary examination, this seems to be St. Nicholas holding a bishop’s crook – his hallmark. In the Eastern Christian world, St. Nicholas is considered the patron saint of travelers, including pilgrims and sailors. And so Christian pilgrims to the Land of Israel from all over the Byzantine Empire (Turkey, the Balkans, Greece and present-day Russia) would carry his icon to protect them from harm. It is probable that the ring belonged to a pilgrim who sought the protection of St. Nicholas on his travels.” St. Nicholas, Tchekhanovetz added, was believed to be a miracle worker and to give gifts in secret. In the Western Christian world, his image evolved into white-bearded Santa Claus, the gift-giver of Christmas Eve.

Moshav Hayogev is located in the eastern Jezreel Valley, east of Tel Megiddo and settlements from the Roman and Byzantine period at nearby Legio. According to Dr. Yotam Tepper, Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist and expert on Roman roads: “We know that the main Roman road from Legio to Mount Tabor passed next to Moshav Yogev, and the road must also have been used throughout the centuries by Christian pilgrims on their way to the sites on Mount Tabor, Nazareth and around the Sea of Galilee.”

Nir Distelfeld, Israel Antiquities Authority anti-theft inspector, who received the ring from Ben-Shitrit to place it in the National Treasures Collection, had high praise for the gardener: “We thank Ben-Shitrit for handing over this special artifact to the Israel Antiquities Authority, and we encourage others to do the same, When they do, they enrich and deepen archaeological understanding of the past that belongs to all of us. The Israel Antiquities Authority will be awarding Ben-Shitrit a good citizenship certificate in thanks for his action.”

Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs [February 28, 2018]

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Roman-era sarcophagus found at Istanbul high school construction site

A Roman-era sarcophagus, believed to date back 2000 years, has been unearthed during a construction work in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district, daily Habertürk has reported.

Roman-era sarcophagus found at Istanbul high school construction site
Credit: Hurriyet Daily News
Officials at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum Directorate found human bones inside the sarcophagus after conducting an examination in the area. The lid of the sarcophagus was found in a different place.

The tomb was later taken under protection by the Kadıköy police headquarters for 24 hours.

 According to a report by the Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation Board, the tomb and bones inside are expected to be transferred to a museum.

It has also been reported that archaeological excavations could start in the construction field.

The bones inside the tomb will be examined and undergo DNA tests, officials said. The examinations will provide information about the residents of Kadıköy, now a culture hotspot in Istanbul, 2,000 years ago.

Speaking about the finding found in the Kuşdili Çayırı area, archaeologist Murar Sav said: “Kuşdili Çayırı and its vicinity are close to or inside the ancient city of Khalkedon. There was a settlement in Khalkedon in seventh century BC, when the ancient Greek city of Byzantion was founded. On the left side of Kurbağalıdere Stream is the necropolis of the ancient Khalkedon and the tomb was found on the right side of the stream. It is also believed that there was an old harbor at the spot where the stream meets the sea.”

Sav said that the tomb dated back to the Roman era, adding: “There is no relief or writing on the tomb. Had there been engravings, we could’ve said the tomb belonged to a rich person, but it didn’t belong to an ordinary person either. There was no gift in the tomb. The excavation area should be expanded to find other tombs around.”

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [february 28, 2018]

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