Mass grave of children unearthed in ancient city
Excavation work has been ongoing for the past three years in the ancient city of Savatra, under the leadership of İlker Işık, the head of the Department of Cultural Heritage Preservation and Restoration at Selçuk University.
During surface surveys in 2020, a remarkable discovery was made — an inscription in the Greek alphabet bearing the word “Türkoğlu,” the descendant of a Turk in Turkish, marking the first occurrence of the term “Turk” in Anatolia.
This year's excavation efforts led to the discovery of mosaic floors in a 400-square-meter area, presumably belonging to a church foundation. As the excavation continued, a collective children's burial site dating to the fifth century was revealed.
"We encountered two different burial typologies in terms of east-west orientation, consisting of chamber tombs and tile graves. We identified a children's cemetery, primarily consisting of non-adult individuals, ranging from fetuses to approximately 13-14 years of age. In total, we found 42 skeletons here," Işık explained.
Highlighting the distinct burial techniques found, Işık added, "For example, we encountered instances of stacked burials, even finding five skulls in a single grave. Whether due to familial connections or the functional continuity of the burial sites, we observed these overlapping burials."
Various small artifacts, such as coins, rings, and earrings, were also discovered during the excavation. Starting this year, excavation efforts are continuing in the area known as the narthex, situated at the rear of the church. Significant discoveries have already been made in this approximately 400-square-meter mosaic area.
“This is indeed a crucial find for Anatolia. The presence of such a splendid mosaic area in Konya not only underscores the richness and grandeur of the region but also serves as a significant testament to the city's historical importance. In light of this, we intend to persist in our excavation efforts this year, with a particular focus on the mosaic area, to unveil more of its hidden treasures,” Işık said.