Traces of Neandertals found in Aegean
UŞAK – Anadolu Agency
Findings from 200,000 years ago that have been discovered during Sürmecik excavations, which were initiated after fossils found in the Aegean province of Uşak’s Banaz district, are expected to shed light on the lifestyle of Neanderthal people who lived in the Paleolithic age.
Harun Taşkıran, the head of the Archaeology Department at Ankara University, said they found many artifacts from the Paleolithic age in the Sürmecik excavation field.
Taşkıran said the area has become a very special field for the Aegean region and also Turkey that shed light on the Paleolithic age.
“We have been working for two years in a field that was discovered by chance. We have so far collected some 80,000 pieces and among them 30,000 are suitable for display,” he added.
Taşkıran said that among the findings unearthed this season are a hand axe and arrow head that Neanderthals used to hunt.
“Previously we could only go back to the early Bronze Age in Uşak and its surroundings. There are also some places dating back to late Neolithic age. But now thanks to Sürmecik findings we have moved the history of the city back to 200,000 years ago. Sürmecik is an extraordinary place of Paleolithic findings. The Aegean region does not have any other big open-air settlement like this with so many artifacts,” he added.
Arrow heads, cutters, teeth and animal fossils
Taşkıran said this year’s excavations ended and they would continue works next year, adding that all findings will be examined in detail.
“Nearly 200,000 years ago, a group of Neanderthal people lived along the hot water resource in the region. Turkey’s best artifacts from the mid-Paleolithic age are known to be in Antalya’s Karain Inn but some artifacts in Sürmecik are unique. This place gives all stages of the Mid-Paleolithic age. We will continue working to date these artifacts. But we can say that we have artifacts from at least 200,000 years ago,” he added.
Şerif Söyler, the Uşak Museum Director and the head of Sürmecik excavations, emphasized the importance of the excavations being carried out in collaboration with Ankara University, Uşak University and the Uşak Museum.
Söyler said the region is under protection and examinations of the artifacts are ongoing.
“Neanderthal people generally used to live in inns, so it is striking that they lived in the open air here. We estimate that they stayed here to hunt the animals that came to the water resource in the region. There are arrow heads, cutters, teeth and animal fossils. All these are hunting materials. We were able to reach these materials five or six meters deep. We may find artifacts from even older ages,” he said.
Rainer M. Czichon, the head of the Archaeology Department at Uşak University, said the university’s geography department academic Selahattin Polat found some fossils when making surface survey in the region and informed him.
“Uşak has not been examined very much in terms of archaeology. Sürmecik is a very important region. When the work is done here, we plan to start works in the new excavation fields,” Czichon said.