Turkey Archeology Department Reveals Ancient Underground Structures Beneath Jersev Castle : NPR

Ruins of quarters believed to have been used by soldiers stationed at the garrison.

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Ruins of quarters believed to have been used by soldiers stationed at the garrison.

Alice Martins for NPR

Diyarbakır Province, Turkey – Once part of ancient Mesopotamia, Turkey has long been fertile ground for archaeologists. It is also home to significant pre-Mesopotamia sites – UNESCO World Heritage Sites Kobekli DebeThe Neolithic settlement, believed to be more than 10,000 years old, may be the world’s oldest An ancient place of worshipAnd Catalhoyuk, An early city dating back to about 9,000 years ago.

Now, archaeologists say recent sites in the country’s southeast could change modern understanding of this part of the world’s past, moving the trail of pre-Roman activity farther east than previously believed.

Zerzevan Castle, the military base of the Roman Empire, has to offer UNESCO Invitation “Important Information on Roman Soldiers, Civilians’ Daily Life, and Battles.”

Then there is the Temple of Mithras. Mithra religion – also known as the “Mithras Cult” – is believed to have originated in ancient Persia, and the temple, discovered in 2017, may be the best-preserved in the world, according to UNESCO.

Archaeologists have identified the massive, multi-layered structures that have yet to be excavated using ground-penetrating radar scans. These are underground and reveal layers of artefacts, some dating back to the pre-Roman period.

A local family visits the Zerzevan Castle archaeological site.

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A local family visits the Zerzevan Castle archaeological site.

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Archaeologist Aytak Goskun, who found the ruins of an ancient church, says excavations at the site could continue for another three decades.

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Archaeologist Aytak Goskun, who found the ruins of an ancient church, says excavations at the site could continue for another three decades.

Alice Martins for NPR

Sitting near an ancient church built on a hill high above the temple, the archeologist Aytak Koskun When he first saw the place, he says, he knew he had to dig.

“I first came to Diyarbakir in 2005,” says Koskun, “and when I saw this mountain, I saw some artefacts and I knew that no excavations had been done before. So as soon as I saw it, I knew it was there. To be an excavation. must, because there must be something significant underneath.”

The underground living quarters may have sheltered 10,000 people during the war

A tour of the site reveals some of what he and his team have excavated in recent years — a vast rock altar, an underground church, at least several miles of aqueduct.

A member of the Zerzevan Castle excavation and restoration team looks through a microscope while studying a coin found at the archaeological site.

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A member of the Zerzevan Castle excavation and restoration team looks through a microscope while studying a coin found at the archaeological site.

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A bronze baptismal bucket was discovered at the Zerzevan Castle site and is currently on display at the Diyarbakir Archaeological Museum.

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A bronze baptismal bucket was discovered at the Zerzevan Castle site and is currently on display at the Diyarbakir Archaeological Museum.

Alice Martins for NPR

Goskun and his team discovered artifacts, including a beautifully preserved and decorated Roman-era bronze baptismal bucket. Assyrian period The stamp, a type of official seal carved into rock, dates back to about 3,000 years ago.

“We are excavating 57,000 square meters inside the fort walls [68,171 square yards],” he says. “It’s a big part. Outside of that… (something like) 10 million square meters [3.86 square miles].”

Goskun believes that about 1,500 people, both military and civilian, lived here in peacetime. During the war, he says, around 10,000 people from the surrounding area may have sought shelter here.

An inscription found at the entrance to the temple of Mithras remains undeciphered.

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An inscription found at the entrance to the temple of Mithras remains undeciphered.

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The ruins of the church can be seen from the south tower.

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The ruins of the church can be seen from the south tower.

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That, he says, could help explain the vast subterranean habitats. So far, he says, six residential complexes have been excavated inside the fort walls, and another 99 are below the surface.

This is one reason Coskun says the site has the potential to change modern understanding of this part of the world and its archaeological and architectural history.

“It’s completely open to new discoveries, that’s for sure,” he says. “We don’t know what else we’ll find. We’ve only excavated about 10% of the surface inside the fort walls. And beyond the fort walls,” he adds, “you see more living areas, the canal, a necropolis where leading families buried their dead, And ceremonial areas. So, there will be more.”

He says the excavations could continue for another 30 years.

The entrance to the Temple of Mithras as seen from the inside.

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The entrance to the Temple of Mithras as seen from the inside.

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