Extension of Byzantine-era harbor discovered
Ömer Erbil - ISTANBULAn extension of the Theodosius Harbor has been discovered during the construction of a linking road at Yenikapı Square as part of the Eurasia Tunnel, with some expert surmising that it might have acted as a breakwater.
Archaeological excavations at the Eurasia Tunnel have been continuing under the inspection of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums.
The best known harbor of the Byzantine era, the Theodosius Harbor, was discovered during archaeological excavations initiated by the Istanbul Archaeology Museums in 2004 in Yenikapı for the Marmaray and metro stations.
Thirty-six shipwrecks and thousands of cultural artifacts were found in the harbor excavations, while the Neolithic findings proved that Istanbul’s recorded history stretched back 8,500 years. Only some parts of the Theodosius Harbor, however, were found during the Marmaray and metro excavations despite information that the extent of the harbor were larger. Both the lighthouse and the breakwater of the harbor have yet to be discovered.
The excavations, which are being conducted under the road that connects Aksaray to the coast, have already revealed the foundations of 18th- and 19th-century Ottoman architecture. Scholars believe that the structures were constructed on top of the Theodosius Harbor after the port was filled it. Similar architectural structures have been found during previous excavations at Yenikapı.
Museum officials said that after the removal of the architectural findings, new wrecks may come to light.
A nearly five-meter-wide and L-shaped architectural structure could be the breakwater of the Theodosius Harbor, according to archaeologists. However, others have suggested that the structure might have been built in the Ottoman era to protect coastal structures from waves.
Museum officials believe the area of the current excavations was most probably the mouth of the harbor.
This structure should be numbered and removed carefully during the removal of the findings, according to museum officials.
But the construction company, which has expressed fears that the process will take much longer, wants the findings to be removed as soon as possible to finish the road.
Istanbul’s two continents are being connected by a 3.34-kilometer undersea tunnel as part of the Eurasia Tunnel project, which has also been dubbed the “Istanbul Straight Road Crossing Project.”
The project, which will link Kazlıçeşme on Istanbul’s European side and the Asian side’s Göztepe, is expected to reduce the city’s notorious traffic when it opens sometime next year.
Cars will take 15 minutes to pass through the tunnel.