Ancient grave proves Istanbul is 6,000 years older than previously thought

January 11th, 2009 - 1:56 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Jan 11 (ANI): Archaeologists in Istanbul have discovered a grave that proves the city is 6,000 years older than they previously thought.
According to a report by BBC News, the grave, which revealed an ancient family, was unearthed at the site of a 21st Century rail project.
Digging through thick mud and an ancient swamp of black clay, archaeologists discovered the skeletons of two adults and two children lying curled-up, perhaps to save space.
“We found the grave, pots and other artefacts. There were signs of houses made of tree-branches and next to the settlement was a swamp where we found small tools, wooden pieces and bones,” explained Ismail Karamut, head of the Istanbul Archaeology museum, which is leading the dig.
“It all shows there was a Neolithic settlement here in the historic peninsula of Istanbul where people lived, farmed and fished,” he added.
Earlier, historians believed that modern-day Istanbul was first settled around 700 BC. But, the discovery of the skeletons has revealed far deeper roots.
The Neolithic era, when man abandoned the nomadic, hunting lifestyle and settled to farm the land and raise cattle, began east of here, gradually carrying the foundations of “civilized” life west, to Europe.
The new find in Istanbul helps map that transition.
“Neolithic culture changed as it moved west. Not all of what we call the ”Neolithic package” was transferred,” explained Professor Mehmet Ozdogan of Istanbul University.
“Domesticated animals and some of the cereal crops came, but mud brick became wooden architecture, settlements were re-organized. The transformation is important to understand the Neolithic culture in Europe. Every new site adds data to the picture,” he added.
According to Professor Ozdogan, the Yenikapi settlement dates from between 6400 BC and 5800 BC, long before the Bosphorus Strait had formed and in the days when the Marmara Sea was a small, inland lake.
The Yenikapi dig has now reached bedrock, so archaeologists don”t expect any more major discoveries.
They are still working through piles of ancient swamp mud though, which has preserved some of the oldest wooden artifacts ever found. (ANI)

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