ARCHAEOLOGY >Professor dedicates his life to ancient mound in Turkey's Black Sea

SAMSUN – Anadolu Agency

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Prof. Önder Bilg, who took part in the excavations at İkiztepe Mound for the first time in 1974, still continues contributing to works there even after retiring from Istanbul University in 2012. 

Archaeological works at the mound, located in the northern province of Samsun’s Bafra district, ended in 2012. Bilgi, 77, who was an assistant in 1974, became the head of excavations in 1981. When the works were finished in 2012, Bilgi retired from his post at the Istanbul University Archaeology Department but he never cut his ties from İkiztepe. 

Visiting the region every summer, Bilgi gives support to environmental arrangement and other works at the site which are carried out to open the area to tourism. 

Bilgi said the data that had collected throughout the years in İkiztepe revealed that his efforts did not go down the drain. He said that though excavations had ended in the ancient mound, environmental arrangements, protection, restoration and mausoleum works were still continuing. “When all these are done, the region will serve tourism as the İkiztepe ancient site,” he added. 

Bilgi said he tried to contribute to the work at the site despite his old age and health problems, and continued: 

“After the Kayseri Kültepe excavations that I attended when I was a student, I had been in the İkiztepe excavation field every summer since 1974. I continued working every year in July and August. I have dedicated myself to the İkiztepe excavations, which I have never regretted. I am retired but still have a mission. Our works should be promoted; it is not enough to deliver them to a museum but we need to place them in world history, especially in terms of technology. European technology started after the Renaissance in the 17th century. But technology here has a history of 5,000 years.” 

Stating that he was very happy to serve humanity and the Turkish Republic, Bilgi said that excavations had revealed that the land of Anatolia had many pioneering people, noting that everything had been discovered there and went to Europe over time. 


İkiztepe: An industrial settlement 

Speaking of the data they had obtained during excavations, Bilgi said: 

“İkiztepe was a very important center. It was an industrial settlement but not an agricultural one. Hunting and stockbreeding were developed too. They did not live like an agricultural society. They spent their time on other things. We also understand from artifacts [discovered at the site] that they were developed in mining and textiles. We found their graveyard, which was really helpful because they were buried with their belongings. Ninety-nine percent of these artifacts are made of metal like jewelry, weapons, tools and symbols. It showed us that they were an industrial society. We saw that people lived in log cabins. The settlement had a very big atelier-like business place. Even though they were rich, they did not use metal containers but copper. [The people of] İkiztepe mixed arsenic with copper to make it more useful.”

Bilgi said they had unearthed nearly 12,000 artifacts in the region over a period of 40 years, and they were on display at the Samsun Archaeology Museum and the newly-established Bafra Archaeology Museum. 


İkiztepe excavations 

Traces of the Chalcolithic Age (5,000-4,000 B.C.) were discovered during the İkiztepe excavations. 

It was reported the settlement existed in the region from 4,300 to 1,700 B.C. Many artifacts from the early Bronze Age (3,000-2,000 B.C.) and early Hittite era (1,900-1,800 B.C.) were discovered in the region. 

The most interesting among them were skulls which appeared to have undergone a surgical operation in a graveyard on the site’s highest hill which date back to 2,300-2,100 BC. These skulls carry archaeological importance as they are the only such examples unearthed in Anatolia so far. They also show that people who lived there did not have the characteristics of Mediterranean people but rather of southern Russians and Bulgarians.

August/10/2016

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