Palace unearthed in Mersin’s ancient settlement Yumuktepe

Palace unearthed in Mersin’s ancient settlement Yumuktepe

MERSİN - Anadolu Agency
Palace unearthed in Mersin’s ancient settlement Yumuktepe

The remains of the ancient palace in Yumuktepe tumulus show that it dates to as far back as 4,500 BC. AA photo

Ongoing archaeological excavations in one of the world’s oldest settlements, the Yumuktepe tumulus in the southern province of Mersin, have unearthed the remains of a palace. The palace dates to as far back as 4,500 B.C., and the quality of the pavement outside the palace was a big surprise for archaeologists.

Traces of settlements at Yumuktepe date back to 7,000 B.C. and settlements continued there until the 13th century. The excavation works in Yumuktepe are currently headed by Professor Isabella Caneva, from the Archeology Department in Italy’s Lecce University.

Caneva said this year’s works started one month ago and focused on the layers of the chalcolithic era in 5,000 B.C, yielding good results so far.

The remains of the palace were discovered during works in previous years, she added.

“This year’s work completely revealed the outline of the palace. We call it palace because it is a big building. It is from 4,500 B.C., the late chalcolithic era. At these times, normal houses were very small but there is a very big hall here. Each room was also floored with adobe. There were nearly 200 cups and ceramics, which means the  meal was cooked for many people here. People who lived here were not a normal family but a large or elite family,” Caneva said.

High quality

She added that the remains of the palace reflected the traces of many generations of Mesopotamian civilizations. “This place is more monumental and in higher quality when compared to normal houses. There is a very good pavement outside the palace. I have never seen such a pavement. It was a surprise,” she said.

Yumuktepe, also known as Soğuksutepe, was founded 9,000 years ago by Neolithic farmers, whose ruined homes now form the core of the archeological ruins. The first excavation was from 1936 to 1938 by J. Garstang. It was the only Neolithic site known of in the Near East until the mid-20th century. The well-watered plain of Mersin rises towards inner Anatolia on one side, and opens towards Syria and the Levant on the other. The charred remains of pistachio, oak and pine trees from the earlier levels at Yumuktepe shows that the area was much more densely forested than in modern times.