Ottoman and Byzantine-era remains unearthed

Ottoman and Byzantine-era remains unearthed

Ottoman and Byzantine-era remains unearthed

During the archaeological excavations in and around the Million Stone, located right next to the Basilica Cistern and is considered the zero point of the world, opposite the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul’s Fatih district, the remains of buildings that are believed to be a neighborhood in the Ottoman Empire and walls from the Byzantine era have been unearthed.

Archaeological excavations in and around the Million Stone, one of the most important artifacts that has been preserved since the Ottoman Empire, started in 2019 by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB). At that time, during the arrangement of the Yerebatan Park and its surroundings, the project was expanded after the discovery of archaeological remains, and a water channel was unearthed.

In the archaeological excavations right behind the Million Stone, wall remains from the Byzantine period were unearthed. It was even understood that the Ottomans noticed the Byzantine walls while constructing the structures and used these structures in the foundations of the buildings to make the building more solid.

Also, during the works conducted in the northeast of the water level, it is estimated that there is a cistern structure dating back to the late Ottoman period and a bath adjacent to the water level.

IBB Cultural Heritage Projects Manager Merve Gedik provided information about the archaeological excavations that have been going on for three years and talked about the remains. Stating that there are many buildings remains and works are continuing, Gedik emphasized the importance of the area.

Stating that the Million Stone, consisting of a four-foot domed structure, was made after Istanbul became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, Gedik said the following:

“This was considered the zero point of history. This is the starting point of the Mese Road [the main thoroughfare of ancient Constantinople], which continued to be used after the Ottoman period. Clock adjustments were also made according to this point until Greenwich was given it in the 1880s. After the Latin invasion in the 1200s, many buildings were damaged in Istanbul, and we think that the Million Stone was also damaged then. It was also seriously damaged in the Istanbul earthquake, which we call the little apocalypse in the 1490s.”

Gedik said that the area where the works are carried out is multi-layered.

“We can learn the whole story of Sultanahmet from this archaeological excavation site because there are both Ottoman and Byzantine layers here. The Million Stone itself is a historical layer. In fact, an excavation was carried out here in 1967 and some of the Million Stone was unearthed then. It was not a comprehensive excavation. We have been continuing the work since 2019 under the supervision of the Istanbul Archeology Museums Directorate, and we continue to find new building remains as we dig. We found Byzantine ruins in the layer around the Million Stone, and we continue to open it,” she said.

Stating that they found the remains of a neighborhood from the Ottoman period, and added, “We consider all the archaeological excavations of this place as a project throughout the Sultanahmet Square. We conduct archaeological excavations in public so that people from all over the world can witness it. We also have projects for Sultanahmet Square. When all these excavations come to an end, a new walking route will be organized in Sultanahmet. We understand from the excavated layer that there was a neighborhood here during the Ottoman period.”

Byzantine Empire,