Excavations resume in Arslantepe Mound
One-third of the works that started in 1932 with the order of Gazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Türkiye, on the Arslantepe Mound, where the oldest city-state was founded, have been completed.
Arslantepe, home to the finds from the Late Chalcolithic Period to the Iron Age, hosted many civilizations from the Hittites to the Roman and Byzantine.
The mound from the Late Hittite Period has lion statues and an overturned king statue at the entrance. During the excavations in the past years, structures of the “first city-state” in Anatolia, with more than 2,000 seals and a mud-brick palace with a city infrastructure, such as the world’s first rain drainage line, came to light.
This year’s excavations started under the direction of Arslantepe Mound Honorary Excavation Committee head and Italian Sapienza University’s Archaeology Department lecturer, Marcella Frangipane.
She noted that they carried out the restoration and conservation work before the excavation but that the work gained even greater importance after UNESCO inclusion, adding: “This is a mudbrick building and needs more attention.”
Stating that the number of visitors to the mound increased after UNESCO added it to its list, Frangipane said, “There is a fortification wall at the entrance. It is 2,200-2,500 years old. We cleaned this fortification wall, and now we are carrying out restoration work. In addition, we worked on the wall on which there is a painting. It is in very good condition. This roof system is very good; the weather remains the same even if the climate changes. It is isolated, but we check it every year. The building is in good condition, but restoration is done every year.”
The head of the Arslantepe Mound excavations, Professor Francesca Balossi Restelli, stated that they started work on the Arslantepe Mound on July 18 and that they carried out restoration and conservation work for two weeks. “This year, we are working on the trenches we made last year. There are currently two trenches; we are working on a Chalcolithic and Hittite trench.”
Stating that there were 3600 buildings from the Chalcolithic Period, Restelli said: “I hope we can find new buildings under these ones. The buildings we found are not normal, they are the houses of the elite. This is so important for us because they show us the palaces period. I don’t know what we will find but I hope good things will come out. Last year, we found cubes, bone needles, small beads, stone objects and tools. I hope it will be the same this year. We will continue our work for two months. Excavation will continue until the end of September. We will work in the Hittite trench for a month. Then we want to start work on another trench in the mound. There are also Old Bronze layers in that trench.”
Arslantepe is located on the Malatya plain, 5 kilometers from the city center and 15 kilometers from the Euphrates River, according to UNESCO’s website.
“It is a 4-hectare and 30-meter-high archaeological mound dominating the plain and formed by the superimposition of settlements for millennia, from at least the 6th millennium B.C. to the late Roman period,” UNESCO says.
The long history of the site, located at the crossroads of the main civilizations of the Near East, reveals crucial events and processes of change in connection with the contemporary developments in Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the South Caucasus.
More than 50 years of archaeological excavations by Rome’s Sapienza University have brought to light the rich material remains of many civilizations.