Race-against-time excavations to rescue Batman's archaeological sites from underwater fate
BATMAN – Anadolu Agency
Picturesque Hasankeyf and its surroundings posess treasures that requires an Herculian task by archaelogist to be brought to light. DHA photo
Archaeologists restarted on Aug. 24 their excavations in the Batman province, in a race against time to rescue as many artifacts as possible from the ancient ruins before the Ilısu Dam’s reservoir inundates the area.
The Kuriki, Graemer and Çemealo excavation sites contain key traces of ancient history that archaeologists are trying to extricate in an ill-fated attempt due the fact that the completion of the Ilısu Dam is approaching.
Especially the Çemealo site stands out with artifacts dating back to the Iron Age 2,000 years B.C.
“There is huge damage due to a very intensive agriculture. We have determined artifacts dating back to middle and some possibly to early Iron Age. Below [the area], there is a settlement that dates back to around 2,000 B.C.,” archaeologist Aslı Özdoğan said.
In nearby Kuriki, archaeologists found artifacts from Assyrian, Greek and Roman civilizations. “The first settlement was founded here 5,000 years ago. We have determined that there were villages here during the early Bronze Age. We have revealed how the architecture and the utensils used by those inhabiting here were at that time,” said Elif Genç, an archaeologist from Adana’s Çukurova University.
Genç also said that their biggest surprise was finding around 100 kilos of remnants of lentil and cereals stored in granaries. “These were the oldest things that we could extract. Others were dating back to Assyrian, Greek and a few to Roman periods,” Genç said.
The third site, Graemer, poses an arduous task for archaeologists as it contains ruins from four different settlements on layers which are one on the top of another. Archaeologist from Istanbul’s Koç University Gül Pulhan stresses that the site had been never explored before.
“We are trying to pursue the excavations horizontally. For example, when we find a house or a building, we try to expose it fully. But we also try to understand the whole history by deeper excavation,” Pulhan said.
In each site, the task seems Herculean ahead of a biblical flood from what’s going to be Turkey’s fourth biggest dam.
The picturesque, UNESCO world heritage town of Hasankeyf is another of the sites which are set to be submerged underwater due to the rise of the waters in the surrounding valley. The dam’s ongoing construction still stirs controversy and the outcry of activists.