Prehistoric tombs found during excavations in Istanbul’s busiest square
Kurgan-type tombs dated between 3000-3500 B.C. have been found during the ongoing excavations carried out by the Istanbul Archaeology Museums in an area where a metro station will be built in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş district.
A giant pier was built in the area and a canvas was laid on it in order to protect the finds from the weather incidents that would disrupt the excavations, which have been continuing at full speed since 2016.
The remains from the late Ottoman period and the late Byzantine period were found during the field works in addition to the ruins of a tram line and depots built in 1910.
Below this layer, some small finds belonging to the Hellenistic and Roman periods were also unearthed, which are considered as “very significant” for the Bosphorus line.
However, the findings that excited the archaeologists the most were found in excavations made at a depth of one and a half meters above sea level.
In this section, it was revealed that there were kurgan-type graves under the stone rows.
Since all of the oldest kurgan-type tombs found in the country belonging to the early bronze age were buried after the cremation, the bones of the remains have cracked and disintegrated.
For this reason, archaeologists in the field continue their work meticulously using dental tools.
A very delicate work is done and all the graves are opened and documented during the excavations, according to Mehmet Ali Polat, an archaeologist involved in excavations.
“Kurgan-type graves found dates back to 3,500 B.C., that is, they belong to the era that we call the first bronze period in chronology,” Polat said, adding that nearly 82 graves were found inside and outside the kurgans in rows of stones.
“A total of 75 of these 82 tombs belong to cremation, that is, bodies buried by burning. Seven of them were direct burials,” he noted.
Pointing out that two terracotta figurines were found inside a tomb, Polat drew attention to the fact that such figurines had not been found before.
“There were some symbols on the figurines. When we did some research, we saw that these were runic alphabet symbols. Symbols are seen in the Vinca culture in Romania,” Polat added.
When the tombs are evaluated together with the small finds and runic alphabet symbols, it can change the migration map from Anatolia to the Balkans, to the northeast of Europe and the Black Sea, according to the expert.
Polat announced that the findings unearthed during excavations in Beşiktaş, one of the busiest squares of Istanbul, would be exhibited to the public at the top of the metro station.