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ARCHAEOLOGY >Turkey’s archaeology doyenne dies aged 98

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Professor Halet Çambel played a key role in the understanding of Hittite hieroglyphics by discovering a tablet. DHA photo

Professor Halet Çambel played a key role in the understanding of Hittite hieroglyphics by discovering a tablet. DHA photo

One of the most important figures in the archaeology world, Istanbul University’s retired academic Professor Halet Çambel, has died aged 98. Turkish archaeologist and writer Çambel was found dead in her house on Jan. 12.

After a ceremony to be held tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the Bosphorus University, Çambel will be buried next to the grave of her husband in the western province of Muğla.

Born in Berlin, Çambel received undergraduate training in archaeology at the Sorbonne University in Paris and received a doctorate in 1940 from the University of Istanbul. She competed in the women’s individual foil event at the 1936 Summer Olympics, becoming the first Muslim woman ever to compete in the Olympics. After World War II she began studying with German professor Helmuth Bossert. In 1974, both came to Karatepe-Aslantaş in the southern province of Osmaniye, and Çambel went on to dedicate almost her entire life to this region.

She spent her life for a long time in Karatepe-Arslantaş, first living in a tumulus and then in a modest two-room house. She played a key role in the understanding of Hittite hieroglyphics by discovering a tablet with the Phoenician alphabet, which allowed philologists to decipher the inscription.

Locals made a bust of her in 2005 in honor of her contributions to the region.

January/12/2014

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