VAN, Turkey

Archaeologists in the eastern Turkish province of Van have found traces of life from 5,000 years ago, around the time of the dawn of ancient Egypt.

In the excavations, done with Culture and Tourism Ministry authorization at Iremir Mound in Van’s Gurpinar district, artifacts have been found dating back to the Early Bronze Age, according to experts.

A 15-member team of anthropologists, archaeologists, and art historians have been unearthing Early Bronze Age habitats and artifacts.

The pottery and ceramics excavated from the area, believed to be used as storage for a residence, show the traces of life from the Early Bronze and Iron Ages.

Erol Uslu, curator of the Van Museum and head of the excavation team, told Anadolu Agency that they started an archaeological rescue excavation this year in the mound, which is located in a first-degree protected area.

Saying that the traces of civilizations that inhabited the mound are visible, Uslu added that excavations have been done in 28 different locations in Van so far.

“Among these excavations, there are mound areas at only three points,” Uslu said, namely Dikkaya, Tilkitepe, and Karagunduz.

“Mound excavations are very important for getting to historical remains before Urartu,” an Iron Age kingdom founded after 1000 B.C., Uslu stressed.

“The findings unearthed from Iremir Mound show the Early Bronze Age. This shows that there was a pre-Urartian life here,” he explained.

“We place great importance on Iremir Hoyuk because we can see the traces of civilizations that have lived throughout history here as a whole,” he added.

Layer after layer

Hanif Biber, an archaeologist at Van Yuzuncu Yil University who advises the excavation, said that although Van has seen a number of excavations, they fell short of understanding the region’s real history and chronology of events.

“During the excavations, we saw that many different layers overlap,” he said.

Archaeologists got very promising findings from the first moment of the cleaning process, Biber explained. “We found masonry in an area very close to the surface. We thought it belonged to the Iron Age.”

“Just below it is an Early Bronze Age layer. At the bottom is an Early Bronze Age layer about three meters [nearly 10 feet] thick. It’s a pretty thick layer. This shows us that there has been long-term life here,” he added.

Noting that the first artifacts were found around a meter under the surface, Biber explained: “Both the architectural form of this place and the findings inside it definitely show that it belongs to the Early Bronze Age.”

“In other words, it’s from about 5,000 years ago. There’s a storage container inside. This gives us traces of a house that’s an outbuilding,” he added.

“Ceramic shards from the Early Bronze Age were found in this place. Obviously, finding such a place at such high elevations made us both surprised and happy,” he said.

Biber and his team said they expect to encounter much larger residences in the mound’s cone in excavations to come.

“We hope to go down to the Chalcolithic and Neolithic ages in the lower elevations of the mound,” he said.

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