| 7 November 2017
11,500-year-old settlement unearthed in Turkey
Am 11,500-year-old settlement from the beginning of the Neolithic era with features similar to Göbekli Tepe has been unearthed in the fifth stage of archaeology digs at the ancient town of Hasankeyf, on the bank of the Tigris river in southeastern Turkey, as part of rescue work ahead of a dam project.
Assistant Professor Mevluet Eliueshuek, the head of the excavations, says the settlement was abandoned after about 1,000 years, adding that some fields were found in which they believe there were formerly steles like the ones in Goebeklitepe, which have not survived.
Excavation consultant Yutaka Miyake from Tsukuba University (Japan) says two phases existed in the mound: "In the first phase, the architectural structure of houses was round. They dug a hole and put up a wall around it. In the second phase, they began building rectangular houses."
The people hunted wild sheep. "As for plants," Miyake says, "we found wild peanuts, almonds and terebinth berries. It is interesting that we did not find pieces of grain or wheat. This place was a settlement before its transition to a field of agriculture or breeding."
Miyake reveals that 120 tombs have been unearthed beneath houses. Among the grave goods were a stone bowl, beads, and sea shells. Black and red paints were detected in one-third of the burials. After burying the dead, the people waited for the body to decay, then coloured the bones. Also found were six tombs containing the skulls of wild sheep or goats.
Excavations are scheduled to continue into mid-December.
Edited from Hurriyet Daily News (26 September 2017)
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