Tuesday 30 March 2010

Greece and Turkey Boast Two of the World’s Top 2009 Archaeology Discoveries

Greece and Turkey Boast Two of the World’s Top 2009 Archaeology Discoveries


30 March 2010 | Two archaeological sites, one in Crete and one in Istanbul, were included in the list of last year’s most exciting discoveries compiled by the Archaeology Magazine, a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America.

The discovery of the Iron Age necropolis of Orthi Petra at Eleutherna in Crete, which was featured among the year’s top 10 finds, shed light on the role of women in the so-called “Dark Ages” of Greece.

The remains of four females, aged between seven and 70, were excavated last summer in an eight-century BC tomb, whose floor was covered with thin strips of gold, once affixed to burial garments. The women were surrounded by bronze vessels and figurines, as well as jewellery made of gold, silver, glass, ivory, and semiprecious stones imported from Asia Minor, the Near East, and North Africa.

These and other artefacts discovered in the tomb suggested these women played an important role in Eleutherna's religious life, and the head of excavations, Nicholas Stampolidis of the University of Crete, believes the oldest one was a high priestess interred with her protégés.

Based on a shared dental trait, archaeologists discovered that all four women were related and further research is expected to confirm they were related to a dozen women unearthed nearby last year.

“This time period is erroneously called the Dark Ages,” Adelphi University forensic anthropologist Anagnostis Agelarakis said, cited by the publication. “The finds show that these women were aristocratic. Their social standing was superlative. I mean, the phiale alone--it must have been sent from a ‘prince’ of Mesopotamia! And their matrilineage was not ruptured for two centuries. I don't think it was dark at all.”

While the Eleutherna find was the only archaeological site on the Balkans listed among the world’s top 10 most exciting discoveries for 2009, another place in the region was also included as a significant discovery for the year.

This was the Lost City in Istanbul. Described as “too big to classify,” the site stretches over eight kilometres and includes several separate sites from various periods. With its main part being on the peninsula that juts out into the Küçükçekmece lagoon, now separated from the Sea of Marmara by a narrow strip of land, but there are also remains on the surrounding shores of the lagoon and in the lagoon itself.

Some of the sites identified so far are: two harbor installations and kilometers of seawall from the classical period; a harbor, with a long breakwater and a lighthouse, most likely from the fourth century BC; Hellenistic pottery and a second-century BC Corinthian column capital; a wide and well-paved Roman roadway that excavators believe is part of the imperial Via Egnatia; a necropolis and likely residential areas, as well as possible villa remains on the eastern shore of the lagoon.

In addition, finds similar to the artifacts discovered in the central Anatolian late Pre-Pottery Neolithic site, which began around 9500 BC were made. If they turn out to be from the same period, archaeologists say the site at Küçükçekmece could be one of the earliest farming communities settled by people moving from Anatolia into Europe.

As Küçükçekmece is located just 20 kilometres from downtown Istanbul on land that is currently being farmed, the publication suggests turning the area into an archaeological park.

The other top 10 archaeological discoveries for 2009, according to the publication included: the Lord of Úcupe in Peru; the First Domesticated Horses in Botai, Kazakhstan; the Early Irrigators in Tucson, Arizona; the Anglo-Saxon Hoard in Staffordshire, England; the Popol Vuh Relief in El Mirador, Guatemala; the World’s First Zoo in Hierakonpolis, Egypt; the Earliest Chemical Warfare in Dura-Europos, Syria; the Palace of Mithradates in Kuban, Russia; and the Rubaiyat Pot in Jerusalem, Israel.

Source: Balkantravellers

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