Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Heavy equipment invades İstanbul excavation site, harming Neolithic ruins

An archeologist examines a human skeleton found during construction in İstanbul's Pendik district. (Photo: AA, Şebnem Coşkun)

Heavy equipment belonging to a construction firm that is working on the long-expected Marmaray project -- an undersea commuter train connecting İstanbul's Asian and European sides -- invaded an excavation site in Yenikapı and has damaged remnants dating back to the Neolithic Age.

Archaeological excavation started in 2004 at the Yenikapı Marmaray construction site, reaching 8,500 years into the history of İstanbul. Skeletons, chapel remains, water wells, footprints, the world's best-preserved shipwreck and a merchant vessel, whose contents and wooden parts are in exceptionally good condition, have been uncovered by archaeologists so far. The excavations are still going on at the site, but the Marmaray construction firm interrupted the work when its heavy equipment invaded the excavation site on May 11, not thinking of any possible damage that it might cause to objects as yet unrevealed.

According to a Radikal daily report on Monday, without considering the warnings and concerns of archaeologists, the management of the construction firm insisted on continuing their work at the Neolithic site, which carries great importance in terms of shedding light on the history of world civilization. The construction firm started its activities at the site without informing the Cultural and Natural Assets Conservation Board and the İstanbul Archaeology Museum. Now, archaeologists, universities and nongovernmental organizations have called on state officials to stop the heavy equipment that might eliminate their chances of finding new artifacts.

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