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21 March 2009
Underwater excavations of a Turkish prehistoric settlement

Archaeologists announced they have begun underwater excavations of the prehistoric site of Limantepe in western Turkey. The underwater research, headed by Professor Hayat Erkanal of the Archaeology Department of the Ankara University, explores the prehistoric settlement located in the coastal town of Urla near İzmir in western Turkey.
      The harbour settlement was inhabited as early as starting from 6,000 years ago and, as such, it is one of the oldest known artificial harbours in the Aegean Sea. A big part of it, including a fortification wall, was submerged in the sea due to a massive earthquake which occurred in 700 BCE, according to Erkenal. Layers from three different periods have been found at Limantepe. The lowest layer belongs to the Early Bronze Age and dates from the third millennium BCE onwards. The second one dates to the Middle Bronze Age from the first half of the second millennium BCE onwards.  According to experts, evidence from these two early periods indicate cultural ties with the nearby prehistoric sites of Tepekule, Bayraklı within the city of İzmir and the Panaztepe site at the mouth of the River Gediz. The third layer belongs to the Late Bronze Age and covers the time period from the fourteenth to the thirteenth century BCE, with some artifacts discovered from this period suggesting a cultural proximity with the Mycenaean culture.
      According to Erkanal, Limantepe was a major sea transportation centre with large political significant in the Aegean Region in 3000 BCE. Interest in the site grew in 2007 when a wooden anchor dating from the seventh century BCE was discovered wedged in the sea ground during underwater explorations. It is said that it could be the oldest such anchor ever found. The current excavations are being carried out with the support of experts and equipment from Israel's Haifa University.

Sources: BalkanTravellers.com (19 March 2009), Today's Zaman (20 March 2009)

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