Projects that have been ongoing for the past 10 years with the aim to enrich Istanbul by recovering its cultural assets, raising its quality of life, and providing modern transportation have also provided valuable, unique, and surprising information about Istanbul’s historical background. Discoveries by the Istanbul Archeological Museum during archeological recovery excavations in different districts have changed important notions about Istanbul, providing evidence for events previously thought to be merely the stuff of legends. The most important of these discoveries took place in the Yenikapı, Sirkeci, and Üsküdar station areas of the Marmaray-Metro railway construction projects. This article describes the excavations, which started in 2004 under the guidance of the Istanbul Archeological Museum’s Directorate, their results, and their contribution to Istanbul’s history.
YENİKAPI Recovery Excavations
The Yenikapı recovery excavations were carried out at the point where the Marmaray and Metro stations meet. Financed by two institutions, they started in 2004 and covered an area of 58,000 square meters. The borders of this area start at Namık Kemal Avenue, which extends north from Yenikapı toward the sea, the area between here area to the east, stretching toward Mustafa Kemal Avenue, and the boundary posed by the railway to the south. This area was designated as the common station for both projects. Archeological recovery excavations were undertaken in five zones, four in the Marmaray station area and one in the Yenikapı Metro station area (Image 1).
After the excavations at 1 meter below sea level, when several engraved pieces of wood and some were found under the Turkish Republic and Ottoman Period cultural layers, it was decided to expand the excavations in this area. During the excavations, a large part of Theodosius Harbor, which was named after its founder and was the largest trade center for Constantinople in the fourth and fifth centuries, was discovered. In the material stratum of this harbor, at a depth of 6.30 meters below today’s sea level, a prehistoric cultural layer was located. These discoveries—mostly of pottery from the Neolithic Age—are important for research into the prehistoric period of the region and the history of the city.1
To complete the excavations at Yenikapı, which started at 3 meters above sea level, workers sometimes had to go down as far as 10 or 10.5 meters below sea level, reaching down to the area’s geological structure, which is of the Miocene strata. Inside the 13.5-meters-deep cultural stratum, movable and immovable cultural remnants belonging to the Ottoman, Byzantine, and Neolithic periods were identified.
The Ottoman Period
In the first zone of the Yenikapı excavations, an Ottoman-period structure consisting of many sites was found. It had been built of unevenly placed stones, which were partly made of mud mortar, partly of brick mortar, and in later periods of cement mortar; at the eastern end there is a cistern, which probably dates to the 20th century. At the bottom of this structure in the east–west direction, 10 square meters of an Ottoman road, which had been paved evenly with flat stones and was 1.40 meters wide, likely dating to the 16th or 17th century, was discovered. During the excavation of the Ottoman cultural layer, two garden wells dating to the 18th century and several other wells with stone walls supported by wood were found, although they had been damaged in places by structures on higher levels. Due to the presence of medicine bottles, inscribed injection bottle caps, and a bronze statue of Jesus, it can be assumed that these wells were used in workshops run by Christians who produced chemical and pharmaceutical items (Images 2–5).2 The ceramic, mined materials, and glass remnants dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries, as well as other architectural remnants, establish that the area was not residential, but was used as vegetable garden during the Ottoman period.
The Byzantine Period and Theodosius Harbor
Although there are several myths about the establishment of Byzantion, which made up the core of Istanbul, the prevalent opinion is that it was established in Khalkedon (Kadıköy) in the first half of the seventh century BC. When it was reconstructed as a capital at the time of Constantine I, the city improved rapidly. When Byzantium was renamed Constantinople in 330, there were two harbors next to each other, Prosforion and Neorion, each protected on its northern aspect with a wall along the Golden Horn and having a narrow entrance from the west. As the capital of the empire grew in the fourth century, two more harbors were added. Those harbors were named after the emperors in power at the time of their construction, Iulianos and Theodosios the First.
One of the most important harbors of the Byzantine Empire, Theodosios Harbor was established in a deep bay overlooking the Propontis (Marmara Sea).3 The existence of warehouses like Horrea Theodosiana, which was known to be at the east end of the harbor, indicates that this was a sizeable trade harbor where ships from Alexandria and other places unloaded their shipments of grain and other materials.
The deep bay at the entrance of Lykos Creek was most probably established during the reign of Emperor Theodosius I (reigned 379–395); it was placed at the southern edge of the harbor, and a breakwater extending from east to west was erected there. There are different opinions about the name and the time of establishment of the harbor during the Byzantine period. One suggestion is that Eleutherios Harbor was established during Constantine I’s reign and was located in the same place as the later Theodosius Harbor; another is that Eleutherios Harbor should be sought farther east (Image 6).4
The harbor was used actively from the fourth to the seventh century, when it lost its function; when Egypt fell into the hands of the Arabs in 641, grain shipping routes involving Egyptian harbors likely came to a halt. This supposition is supported by the high number of northern Mediterranean Egyptian amphorae, as well as amphorae of Palestinian origin, dating to the fourth to seventh centuries, found during the excavations, and the low number of artifacts dating to the seventh and eighth centuries.5 The harbor, which was gradually filled with rubble and debris brought by water from Lykos Creek, was used for some time longer, and it continued to be used by small ships and fishing boats until the end of the seventh century, after which it was almost totally filled in and continued to used only by fishing boats and other small vessels. The harbor was completely filled in by the later period. In the second half of the eighth century, Jewish leather tanners settled there, and after the conquest of Constantinople, the harbor was completely filled in and became an area for gardens.6 Petrus Gylius (Pierre Gilles, 1490–1555), a traveler who came to Istanbul in the mid-16th century to examine historical relics there, wrote the following:
The harbor of Theodosius was in today’s Blanka gardens, surrounded by walls on all sides, and rising up to the Marmara shore level, extending up to the skirts of the seventh hill. The opening of the harbor was to the east and there was a dock extending from this direction towards the west. Now on top of all of this are, in my footsteps—I’m counting my steps as I walk—the walls measure 600 feet long and 12 feet wide. … By examining the dock and the general location, I discovered that the perimeter of the old harbor exceeds a mile. The harbor’s opening, which still could allow ships to pass and the tower which is surrounded by the sea and rocky remnants, can still be seen today. … The harbor is filled, there are gardens full of greenery and a few mast trees have been planted. The trees are loaded with fruit, not sails, as Fabius said; the infinite gardens watering these gardens were most certainly the remnants of the old harbor that had once been here.7
The area of the harbor, filled with rubble to suit the designs for the construction of Laleli Mosque during the reign of Sultan Mustafa III (reigned 1757–1774), was sold to Rum and Armenian citizens; part of the city wall was demolished during railway construction in the 19th century. The harbor area took on its current appearance when the coastal highway was constructed in the 20th century.
The harbor was protected by a mighty breakwater, as noted by travelers, which started at Davutpaşa Pier and extended to the east and curving round to the northeast. The excavations, which continued to the west of the second zone (known as 100 Islands today), revealed seawalls, a dock built of large stone blocks, the beginning part of the breakwater, and some other parts of the seawalls. It is assumed that the rectangular holes in the stones in the dock in the north–south direction were used to moor ships. A dock measuring 25 by 2.30 meters had been erected on a gravel base.8 A stone anchor was found on the sea bottom, which grows deeper in an easterly direction from the dock (Images 7–8-9).
The road that went to busy marketplaces in other Byzantium harbor cities started from the docks and piers inside the harbor. Two stone ports and several wooden port stakes were discovered inside Theodosius Harbor. The 43.5-meter row of wooden pier stakes that was revealed during the excavation in the eastern part of the harbor makes it clear that ships loaded and unloaded in this area.
The coastal walls and the breakwater at the entrance to Lykos Creek give us an idea of the size and shape of the harbor. Of all the harbors excavated in the Marmaray and Metro areas in Yenikapı, this was the best documented. Archeological findings show that the harbor has a much longer history than written documents reflect. Even though the stone port and walls around it indicate a Theodosian (end of the fourth century) structure, it is clear that this was built on top of older structures.
Shipwrecks Found in Theodosius Harbor
Archeological drilling in Yenikapı Harbor area expanded after the discovery of ropes and wooden ruins at a depth of approximately −1 meter revealed 37 shipwrecks of different sizes, dating to the fifth and sixth centuries. This is considered the largest collection of wrecked ships from the Middle Ages. Theodosius Harbor, one of the largest commercial centers in the city, eventually became integrated with the land—as it is today—after it ceased to function, probably due to the buildup of sedimentation from Lykos Creek. Remains of vessels found there present important information about Byzantine ship typology, ship construction technology, and the evolution of that technology.
While antique ships had previously been found during underwater excavations, discovery of such vessels under the land during the Yenikapı excavations changed prevailing theory. With this counterintuitive discovery, experts were notified and invited to the area. After the archeological excavations and initial certification were completed on the 37 ship remnants found in the harbor, the artifacts were delivered to institutions responsible for conservation and reconstruction. Documenting these ships, removing them, and conserving wooden parts that had become waterlogged proved extremely difficult. The conservation and reconstruction of 32 of 33 vessels has been carried out by Istanbul University’s Department of Conservation of Marine Archaeological Objects as part of the Yenikapı Batıkları Projesi (Yenikapı Sunken Ships Project). The remaining four ships went to the Bodrum Underwater Archeology Institution.9
Researchers arrived at different opinions about the sunken ships, which dated to different centuries, found in the harbor. It was suggested that the ships might have sunk during a hurricane, tsunami, or other natural disaster. One of the most popular theories is that the vessels were simply abandoned after having served their time. Scientists have found evidence of the effects of the earthquake and tsunami of AD 553 in the fourth of nine stratigraphic segments in the excavation field.10 Another theory is that the southwesterly wind, known in Turkish as kaçak (fugitive), which starts up suddenly in the Marmara Sea during the summer months, might have caused these vessels to sink.11 A thick stratum of sea sand formed above the vessels. The accumulation that caused the harbor to be filled up protected ad preserved the sunken ships. The anoxic environment that formed as a result of the rapid burial of the ships preserved rigging equipment, including tackles, pulleys, ropes, and toggles; daily items such as combs, leather sandals, straw baskets, and wooden plates; and several organic and inorganic artifacts, such as stone and iron anchors (Image 9, 10-14). Several pieces of sunken ships and items belonging to earlier periods were also found scattered around the harbor.
The amphorae and other artifacts from the Archaic, Classic, and early Hellenistic periods dating from the sixth to fourth centuries BC, which were discovered on top of the stone stratum at the base of the harbor, provide evidence that trade vessels traveling between Black Sea coastal colony towns and Aegean city-states used this deep protective bay area during bad weather.
The 37 sunken ships that have been unearthed so far in Yenikapı Harbor date to the early and middle Byzantine periods. Because the ships have been so well conserved, this impressive collection contributes a great deal to our understanding. The original wooden parts give scholars the opportunity to observe the ships’ original body shapes, floors, and frame arches. Sheathings of wood that reached to the bottoms and bulwarks of most of the ships provide detailed information about ship design and building techniques in this historical period.
Byzantine authors recorded the names of different ship types, such as naus, ploion, ksylon, bolkas, and karabion, but did not provide many details about the features of these ships. Small sailboats, known as sandalia, agrarian, or kondurai, were used for coastal navigation and transporting supplies (for the most part food) across short distances. For trade between distant areas, there were ships known as strongylos and pampbylos; the navy used long, thin ships known as dromon, kbelandion pampbylon, and kbelandion ousiakon.12
The Yenikapı shipwrecks include diverse examples of medium and small ships and fishing vessels, in addition to transport ships known as round boats. There was also a rare type of ship with five oars known as a long ship.
The first examples of the galley type of ship date to the Byzantine period. Because they were in such good condition, the galleys found during the excavations allowed underwater archeologists to better understand how oared ships were built in the Byzantine period and how the oarsmen were positioned in the ship. The specific purpose of the Yenikapı galley ships is still unknown. They were light in weight and built skillfully, but were not as practical as the heavy transport ships. They had 25 pairs of oars, and that large a crew is thought to have been too heavy for a light transporter ship; thus, these vessels must have been used for exploratory purposes and as fast war ships. The frame structures of the ships also support this opinion. However, it is still in question why navy ships would have been located in the commercial harbor of Theodosius (Image 15).13
The trading ships and transporter ships of various sizes that were discovered during the Yenikapı recovery excavations provide an idea about the daily activities in the port. The sunken ships can be classified according to size: vessels 8 to 9 meters long are considered to be coastal transport ships or fishing boats, those 10 to 12 meters long would have been mid-sized transporter ships, and those 19 to 20 meters long are classified as large transporter ships.14 Four of the excavated ships still had their load on board; these have been designated YK (Yenikapı) 1, YK 3, YK 12, and YK 35.
The YK 1 vessel is a small trading ship, built from the sturdy wooden mossy oak, also known as Turkish oak. The frame of the vessel consists of a single floor and a middle part, which starts at the starboard’s bilge turn and continues up to the bulwark. The load on board and the presence of two iron anchors indicate that the vessel was not abandoned but sank while it was anchored at the harbor—the load and the anchors, which were very valuable at that time, would not have been left in an abandoned vessel. The ship likely came into the harbor with its load of amphorae and sank during a heavy storm. Although it is thought that the ship dates to the 10th century and was originally 10 meters long, a piece measuring only 6.5 meters has been located. It is typical of the small ships that transported goods between the Marmara Sea and Constantinople, and it underwent renovation at a later point in its existence to allow it to carry more cargo. It has one Latin sail mast and rudder oars placed at the starboard and port stern.15
The YK 3 shipwreck, which was found near YK 1, is a mid-sized transporter ship, 9.12 meters long with a bottom 2.28 meters wide. It is thought that the ship’s original length was almost 18 meters and the bottom about 6 meters wide. The ship, found in the sixth segment stack, at an elevation of 0.69 meters, dates to the 9th or 10th century. The keel consists of 11 lines of wood coverings, one belt, 29 skews, 13 frame pieces connected to the skews, and 8 rows of shovel planks. The ship’s starboard side has completely vanished, while the section stretching from the keel on the port side to the first belt of wood has been preserved. Pieces of brick and plaster were found on top of the shovel planks in their original form.16
Trade vessel YK 12 is especially interesting in that much of its cargo has been preserved, with several amphorae in good condition as well as pieces of broken amphorae. A hatch containing items of daily use—a clay pot, a brazier, a glass, a jug, two amphorae, and a straw basket containing cherry pits—probably belonging to the captain, was also found near the stern. The port and starboard sections of the hull are intact. The length of the remaining portion of the ship is 6.2 meters, and the hull at its widest is 1.90 meters. Its original length is thought to have been about 8 meters and its original bottom width about 2.5 meters. This small ninth-century ship likely took part in the coastal trade; it had a small forecastle, a deck head, and a flat bottom, and could be propelled by pole or sail. The cherry pits and other items found in the ship suggest that it might have sunk during a summer storm (Image 16).17
Vessel YK 35, the fourth found with its cargo intact, contained 127 Crimean amphorae of different types, which were complete or could be repaired, lying side by side. Some had been placed inside scrolled tubes and covered with plant leaves to protect them during the journey. The preliminary assessment is that this was an open-sea trading ship from the fourth or fifth century. After documentation, which included defining the situation of the vessel’s crew, these important artifacts were removed from the site and reassembled for an exhibition (Image 17).
Yenikapı 100 Islands Excavation
The area north of the harbor, zone 2 of the excavations, is known as 100 Islands; the architectural remnants here and those in the eastern part of zone 3 give important clues about the harbor. As mentioned above, at the widest region discovered during the excavations, located in the middle of the port, a 43.5-square-meter area was unearthed. This was made up of thick, solid stakes, and it is thought to be where the ships loaded and unloaded. Dendrochronology analysis from the stake samples indicates that the port was used between 527 and 610 and went through maintenance between 539 and 591.18 A vessel lying east of the port gives an idea about its purpose. Lying in a north–south direction, a 25-meter dock was found west of the pier; this was built in two lines, each line consisting of two blocks, and with a total width of 280 meters. South of the dock, a mass built from Khorasan mortar (brick made of dust and lime) makes up the inner part of the breakwater. The contents of the Khorasan mortar make it obvious that the breakwater was built before the wall of Theodosius, which dates to the fourth century, and that it was placed on a large rock with larger boulders underneath it. The seaside portion of the breakwater that faces southwest has a platform surface and was built with a single line of ashlars that extend into the sea in a southwesterly direction. The Theodosius-era walls placed on top of the breakwater sit on horizontal beams that lie in an east–west direction, as clearly indicated by the horizontal beam sockets. Parts of the Theodosius walls, which make up the western border of the pier and which were built out of alternating rows of ashlars and brick, were also unearthed during excavations. The southwestern part of the walls extends and meets to form a corner. Just under the corner, a wall 4.40 meters wide, built from flat ashlar and Khorasan mortar, extends for 54 meters. Copper coins belonging to the period of Constantine I (reigned 324–337) were uncovered around the wall. Both the building techniques and the coins indicate that the wall was built in the fifth century, but this could not be verified as part of the wall was outside the project area;19 further excavations are needed to clarify this subject (Images 18).
One of the important architectural remnants revealed in this area is an 11-meter part of a vaulted brick structure that, based on the characteristics of several oil lamps found inside, can be dated to the fourth century. This structure, which measures 1.80 meters in length and 1.60 meters in width, has a base built of ashlars and an upper part built of bricks; it might have been used as a water canal. On top of this canal, which extends to the southwest, a box-shaped structure measuring 12.30 × 8 × 40 meters, with a base plastered with Khorasan mortar and a beveled edge, was found. There are two similar structural remnants to the north of this structure, which is thought to have been used as a harbor warehouse. At the entrance to the structure there are two steps, and the wall, still in good shape in some places, is 2.60 meters high. The wall-building techniques and the characteristics of the engraved bricks date the structure to the sixth century. The semidetached building has the same properties.
Also in this area, a vault cover that belongs to a hypoge (burial chamber) with the symbol of a fish scale on top has survived. The findings at the foundation level and the subtle details of the building techniques used on the walls dates the structure to the 12th century. Inside the burial chambers, scattered human bones and skull pieces were found. Around hypoge 11, graves and a horse skeleton lying under one of the graves have been excavated (Image 19).
The southwestern part of the northern walls around the 100 Islands area were completely demolished, although foundation surfaces paved with tile that belong to four square buildings can be seen there, still covered with lime mortar. The entrance to these buildings consists of four stairs. These places, which were used as storage buildings or workshops, can be dated to the 13th century.
The church that was discovered in the northwest part of the Yenikapı Metro excavation area was built in the 12th or 13th century, when the stream started to fill the harbor with sediment. A remnant facing in an east–west direction, the dimensions of which are 9.50 × 11.45 meters, had one abscissa as part of its structure during the first phase of use, and then simple naves were added on the northern and southern sides, turning it into a structure with three abscissas (Image 20).
The excavations in Yenikapı have revealed that there are almost 200 ports in Theodosius Harbor, two of stone and the rest wooden. Preliminary results of an ongoing dendrochronology analysis of samples taken from the wooden port, which extends north to south, show that these wooden ports were made around the beginning of the fifth century. Information about the trade network developing within the historical context, along with data from the excavations, sheds light on the increasing importance of this capital port through the centuries (Image 21).
One of the stone ports is located in the northeast part of the Metro excavation area and the other on the northwest side. The northeast port is oriented southwest to northeast and built on five evenly spaced pillars. The pillar at the southwest end is in the shape of a pentagon, while the four pillars placed at a regular distance toward the northeast are all rectangular. The total length of each identified pillar is 32.50 meters. The port rises above the wooden moldings, which are similar to those found at its base; it is surrounded with marble and limestone blocks on top of Khorasan-mortared rubble. It is filled with Khorasan mortar and broken stones. The pillars, which were built a fair distance apart, were attached to each other with arches. Dendrochronology analysis of the wood used in the construction of the port, along with the archeological materials that were found in the vicinity, establishes that these structures were built at the end of the eighth century or the beginning of the ninth century (Image 22).
A large portion of the stone port on the northwest side has been destroyed. The excavations that began in 2013 around the port, which was unearthed during earlier excavations, prove that wood was also used as one of the building materials. Two overturned columns and a column head with various architectural elements show that the port’s southern end, lying in the water, had columns. The insignias in the center of the side facing on the column heads and the archeological material found around this port indicate that it was built before the northeast port.
During the Yenikapı excavations, along with the archeological material, thousands of animal skeletons were found scattered around the area. Decomposed bones, teeth, and horns that had accumulated on the floor of the harbor for centuries make up a huge collection today. Animals (donkeys, cows, sheep, goats, swine, dogs, cats, deer, dolphins, and elephants) are still being examined in the osteoarchaeology labs of Istanbul University’s Veterinary Faculty, Department of Anatomy; of special interest are horse and camel skeletons and fish bones.
Examination of the animal skeleton remains can reveal information about the animal population of the period, illnesses and anatomical-pathological deformities, as well as the ages and sexes of the specimens, visible morphological specialties, and the purposes for which humans used these animals. These analyses will also provide important information about the animal husbandry economy and veterinary practices of the time. This zooarchaeological examination has already begun to yield information. For example, a great part of the skeletons (and thus, likely, of the animals kept by humans) were one-toed ungulates; based on their skulls, two dolphin skeletons appear to belong to bottlenose dolphins; and based on their bone development, there were more adults than nonadults in the sample. There was a prevalence of male animals among the sheep and horses, and a pervasive hard palate deformation in the horse skulls, which formed as a result of bridle use, as well as deformation in horse bones that suggests that these animals were used for heavy and intensive load carrying at the port. Knife and cleaver marks indicate that these animals were also eaten. Among the types of fish discovered, the mackerel and swordfish remains display knife and cleaver marks. Radiocarbon dating indicates that the accumulation of artifacts in the harbor occurred during a wide time frame, from the early to late Byzantine periods (4th to 13th centuries) (Image 23).20
The Yenikapı excavations were performed below sea level, at an archaeological inlay that became a swamp when saturated with water. The Neolithic-period settlement that was revealed during the excavations is intertwined with an old swamp inlay that was formed by a subsidiary channel of Lykos Creek. This created the need for a swamp excavation, something that had never been performed before in Turkey. Swamps are difficult to excavate but their conditions protect organic materials, in particular wood, much better than those in other types of excavation sites. In fact, sea vessels and many organic materials were protected due to the swamp conditions; and original wooden materials, which are rare for the period under examination, were found within the Neolithic strata.
The Marmara Sea took its current shape 12,000 years ago when, with global sea levels rising, the Dardanelle Straits overflowed the base rock edge (-85).21 A clay stratum found 6.7 meters below sea level at the Yenikapı excavation area is evidence that a swamp started to form at the level of Lykos Creek 11,000 years ago. Waters accumulating in a small paleotopographic pit next to the main channels of Lykos formed a swamp 250–300 meters in diameter and 8 meters deep at the deepest point. It has been suggested that this swamp area formed after a small topographic depression resulted in the congestion of a valley entrance for one of the creek channels on the alluvium level of Lykos Creek. The swamp ceased to exist 7,400 years ago.22
Precipitation records that were revealed during the Theodosius Harbor excavations include important traces of geological and environmental changes, including the precipitation that has accumulated over about 8,000 years and some of the environmental and cultural history of the Marmara Sea and the Istanbul metropolitan region during that period.
From a scientific perspective, the Marmara Sea is an attractive inland sea because it connects the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, two bodies of water that are oceanographically and hierologically very different. It is also notable because of its distinctive large, half-closed basins and straits, and for the tectonic activity that has occurred in this sea continually for the last 5,000,000 years. Scientists have stated that the stratification of the Marmara Sea at the Yenikapı excavation area is very important, as it will enrich the known accounts of Holocene geological history and fill some existing gaps in the knowledge of this period.23
Archaeo-Botanical Findings at the Harbor of Theodosios
Near the end of the Marmaray and Metro excavation project of 2005–2006, about 200 samples of material taken from inside amphorae that were found at different levels inside the swamp area and from sediment strata outside were removed and examined at Hacettepe University. Analysis results confirmed that most of the botanical findings were domesticated plants, including nettle trees, cranberries, nuts, melons, oleanders, figs, walnuts, olives, cherries, plums, peaches, grapes, barley, coriander, and pine nuts; in addition, wild plants such as Adonis, pigweed, goose grass, and crowfoot could be found. The most common type of fruit was the fig, followed by grapes, cherries, and melons. A very small amount of charred cereal and barley and wheat grains were also present. In addition, the fruit of the coriander, used as spice, and pine nuts were found. Among the analysis samples, in addition to peels of unidentified fruit, various wild plants and fruit seeds were found. It is remarkable that almost all the samples taken from the amphorae contain grape seeds. The high proportion of domesticated plants among the Yenikapı botanical findings is similar to that found earlier in Anatolian shipwrecks.24
Movable Cultural Assets
Movable cultural assets unearthed during the Yenikapı excavations give clues about daily life since the Neolithic Age. Among the important findings were terracotta products from the Neolithic and Iron Ages; various pot types, including skyphos, oinokhoe, and aryballos, from the Classical period; coins, perfume bottles, and pots from the Roman and Byzantine periods; glasses and chalices, terracotta containers, oil lamps, lanterns, flasks, bone and ivory game pieces, wooden combs, boxes, spoons, bronze mirrors, keys, and leather sandal soles from the late Roman and Byzantine eras (Images 24–26); and tile and ceramic pieces from the Ottoman period. Some of these artifacts provide clues about marine technology.25 Iron and stone anchors, lead net and fishing rod weights, bronze net shuttles, needles, locks, fishhooks, terracotta weights, amphora corks, and wooden kemanî drills which were found are related to modern fishing technology. Some findings provide clues to the belief system prevailing from the second to the ninth century, reflecting the religious dimension of the Byzantine culture that was created as the Eastern world mixed with Roman culture.26 Among the items belonging to Istanbul’s Christian period were a second-century marble statue with the inscription “Lollia Serenia lived for 12 years,” which served as a gravestone. In addition, a piece of a pot decorated with a relief illustration of a temple entrance, an ivory icon covered with a Nike image, bone and bronze crosses (found in graves at the 100 Islands site), and seventh-century ampullas with crosses on the handles were found.
Yenikapı Neolithic-Period Excavations
Before the Yenikapı excavations started in 2004, information about the history of Istanbul depended on excavations that had already taken place in Küçükçekmece and in Yarımburgaz Cave, as well as at the Fikirtepe, Pendik, and Tuzla settlements on the Anatolian side and at the Ağaçlı and Gümüşdere sands on the Black Sea coast. Excavations had also been carried out in the Domalı district and at sites on the European side, including Yeşilköy, Ayamama Creek, the Çekmece lakes and their vicinity, and Selimpaşa. Discoveries made on the Anatolian side during the surface research provided new information about the history of Istanbul.
Pottery pieces of varying quality have been found on the east and west sides of zone 1 in the Yenikapı excavation area; the depth of the excavation changes according to the typography, with openings as deep as −5 and −5.80 meters. These pieces show differences in their forms and evident processes of surface decoration. Those in the first group are cup-shaped and narrow toward the bottom; they are handmade and light or dark brown in color. They have a shouldered body and are slightly concave. The second group consists of handmade brick-colored pieces, which have a round body that widens toward the shoulder, and a neck; a few of these have triangular handles. At the higher level of −4.66 meters, in the northern section of the site, a charcoal-colored pot with a wide flat bottom, a wide and flat outer rim, and a slightly oval-shaped body was discovered. Initial examinations determined that these pieces might belong to the Chalcolithic Age and were peculiar to the Toptepe culture of the northern Marmara coast. Pieces of pots found scattered around the area in different openings lend strength to the hypothesis that the place of origin of the pots was not these exact spots, but rather an area close by the excavation site; it has been suggested that these pieces were moved to this area by flowing water or some other factor. Except for this small number of pottery pieces, few artifacts or architectural structures have been uncovered anywhere in the excavation area.
During excavations at the −6.30 meter level in the west of the first zone, rock striations were found that formed a different pattern to those of the port base; the Neolithic strata, at which charred adobe pieces and handmade pottery pieces were found, had been reached. When the artifacts and architectural remnants of this stratum are compared to those of nearby areas,27 the findings from the Yenikapı excavation area, which falls within the Marmara area, are very similar to the discoveries made in Fikirtepe and Yarimburgaz, which are also known to be Neolithic Age cultural predecessors of Istanbul.28
In the first zone of the Yenikapı excavations, in the southwestern section of the excavation area, scattered stone lines that differ from the stone strata on the base of the harbor were spotted under the sea at the −6.30 level; these have led researchers to think that this was a settlement in the form of huts lined up in long rows in a northwest–southeast direction. However, only three ruined structures (one rectangular, one square, and one almost round), in close proximity, and lines of rocks scattered in a few different areas exist today. The structures were built adjacent to each other, with the quadrilateral ones containing traces of a partial wall separating the buildings. Inside some of the quadrilateral structures, semicircular stone lines, assumed to be small grain containers, were observed. Wheat kernels were also found in the two pits located at the site. The dimensions of the quadrilateral structures are generally 5 × 5 meters, 3 × 3 meters, or smaller. Their frames are made of wood. The circular stones that were laid around the pillars to provide support enabled researchers to determine the original position and construction type of these pillars. The bottoms of some of the walls, which were built with the wattle-and-daub technique, had been strengthened on the inside and outside with rows of stones (Image 27).
Since a significant number of pottery pieces found inside and around the settlement bear close resemblance to Fikirtepe material, it has been suggested that the Yenikapı settlement overlapped in time with some phases of the Fikirtepe period.
South of the settlement, a watercourse measuring 5 to 10 meters in length has been unearthed. Its bed, whose slope increases from west to east, ends in a deep pit covered with silt, bordering the settlement on the east. The excavations that took place inside the watercourse showed that it is filled with black clay and rocks of different sizes. Inside the clay that was dug out, many pottery pieces and bone and stone tools were found, most of which showed close similarity to items found in the Fikirtepe and Yarimburgaz excavations.
Other items found at the excavation site include grain storage containers with diameters ranging from 1 meter to 1.70 meters, a millstone unearthed at the −8.51 meter level, and a small grain silo with a diameter of 25 to 30 centimeters and a height of almost 20 centimeters. A layer of straw and soil at the bottom of the silos, 3 to 4 centimeters thick, contained carbonized wheat kernels.
On the east side of the settlement a wide, bowl-shaped pit was discovered. Studies of the black, gummy, moist silt covering this area, which contained no archeological material, have provided interesting results. The silt layer deepens, thickening toward the center of the pit and becoming thinner at the eastern and western parts of the opening. In the deepest part of the basin, which is right in the middle, a watercourse was located running in a north–south direction, and along the watercourse, a layer of sand, clay, and psammite was found. On top of this layer, in wattle-and-daub pillar stands, human footprints from the Neolithic Age were discovered. Traces at different levels give the impression that the watercourse was abandoned after each of the infrequent floods that occurred there; after the water receded, the area would be resettled (Image 28).
At a point close to the western border of the watercourse, parallel to its north–south direction, a row of randomly scattered stones, probably belonging to a wall structure, was spotted. To the west of the wall, 20 to 25 meters northwest of the settlement area found at the Marmaray excavation site, different kinds of architectural traces were unearthed. In this area, surrounded by the scattered rocks, wooden pillars had been placed at one time. Pillar holes were identified, typically rectangular in shape and dug inside the main area, with stone supports constructed around them. Other than these remnants, no other stones used as support for walls have been found. Inside and around the architectural remnants, the materials found were mostly from the Yarimburgaz culture.
The presence of two different architectural styles in settlements that are geographically close opens interesting questions for scholarly discussion. The site in the Marmaray region is made up of adjacent, back-to-back sites; the remains there are of structures the walls of which were surrounded by rocks, and the wooden pillars that make up its structural system were placed in the main area and supported by stones. In and around these ruins, materials belonging to the Fikirtepe culture have been discovered. To the northeast, traces reflecting another architectural tradition have been found. This structure, which could only be identified by the holes made in the ground for wooden support pillars, contains materials similar to those located at the Yarimburgaz excavation. These architectural remains, which are predominantly made up of Fikirtepe materials, are quite different from the Yarimburgaz architectural remains.
At the point in the excavation area where the sand that had been carried along by the watercourse that extended to the northwest had been deposited, and under the clay stratum at a depth of −8.40 and −8.75 meters, tree branches extending parallel to one another and signs of branches having been scraped against were discovered. These branches were at one time components of a wattle-and-daub wooden structure. The analysis of branches and some of the thicker trees showed that they had been systematically placed. The wattle-and-daub building that lay on top of the watercourse and its vicinity was probably swept away during a flood.
Except for the main stone ruins, the architectural findings at the Yenikapı Neolithic settlements consist of wooden pillars compressed with mud and supported at the bottom by stones. The ruined wattle-and-daub Yenikapı Neolithic structure described in the previous paragraph is closely similar to known structures in the Marmara and Thrace areas; its existence also proves that the northwest Anatolian and Thracian wattle-and-daub tradition continued in the Yenikapı settlement.
One hundred and eighty trees were located in the watercourse that is in the middle of the basin at the eastern end of the architectural remains. Most of the lower parts of the tree trunks and the roots were lined up on the eastern side of the watercourse (Image 29). While the location of the trees varied, their average position was between −8.50 and −8.90 meters. Some of the trees are large and thick, while others show evidence of having been cut. It is likely that stone tools were used to make cuts in the trees toward their center, causing them to rot and later fall. Root analysis indicated that these trees were oaks and maples.29
On the watercourse, at an average depth of −8.15 meters, an area of about 8 × 20 meters, extending in a south to north direction, was investigated, with very important findings for Anatolian archeology. On the clay surface, human footprints from the Neolithic Age that had been filled by the stream water were found. The impressions of the feet of the people who walked on the wet clay surface rapidly filled with water, and as a result were preserved. They were discovered under black silt and a sand layer of about 15–20 centimeters. To the west of the wattle-and-daub structure mentioned earlier, along the north–south center line, footprints were located on a walking trail; their orderly appearance indicates that they are the footprints of someone who wore shoes, very probably of leather or a similar material. Few impressions of bare feet were found (Image 30). A total of 2,080 footprints were documented, the smallest measuring 15.9 centimeters from heel to toe and the largest 28.9 centimeters.
At the Marmaray excavations, not including the inventory of the Neolithic Age, a total of 15,833 pottery pieces were examined, and the material was found to be very similar to the pottery found in Fikirtepe and Yarımburgaz. Pottery belonging to Fikirtepe culture found in the Yenikapı excavations generally had characteristics from the Archaic and Classical periods, but the transition period between the Classical and Mature phases was not clearly distinguished. For this reason, the Fikirtepe pottery collection from the Yenikapı Excavation has been divided into Archaic Fikirtepe and Classical Fikirtepe.
According to the provisionary evaluation of the pottery group that shows great similarity to the Archaic Fikirtepe phase, the pot form consisting of a lightly curved purse shape and a narrow head is distinctive. Almost all the pottery pieces are dark in color, changing from dark brown to grey and black; most have polished surfaces (Image 31).
The pottery that shows a high degree of similarity to the Classical Fikirtepe pot types (but also similarity to Archaic forms) is dominated by an S shape. Among the Yenikapı excavation findings, there is a cultic pot sitting on 4 small legs that still bears a trace of a handle on the side. It was made with a groove technique that uses a checkered pattern on one side and a geometric ornament on the other. These signs, as well as the legs belonging to this type of cultic pot, match some of the characteristics of the Classical Fikirtepe phase (Image 32).
In the Yenikapı Neolithic settlement excavations, in addition to Fikirtepe pottery, materials with characteristics that are similar to the Fikirtepe pottery group and are known as the Yarımburgaz 4 phase were discovered. In particular, nearly all the gift pots found at the cremation graves in the eastern part of the excavation area can be placed in this group. These pots are generally deep and ornamented with spherical bodies, necks, and holes for rope handles.
The pottery discovered here has different forms: necked or neckless jugs, a small number of bowls and plate without a base coat but in fairly good condition, and a kiln-dried well with or without a matte polish. Techniques include different applications of print decorations. Embellishments created by making one mark with a sharp and cusped tool, or several in a linear arrangement, are examples of the decorative type known as “textile style.”
On the artifacts inside the structures in Fikirtepe and Yarımburgaz and their vicinities, surface treatments and glazes have been washed off by the sea. However, the pottery items that came out of the Fikirtepe and Yarımburgaz watercourses to the east and south of the structure were quite well protected and retained their glaze because they were lodged inside clay deposits. Even though no other complete pots except for Fikirtepe Culture grave gifts were found, the S-shaped pots, pots with handles on four sides, and rope-hole-handled pot pieces in Fikirtepe are in good enough condition to clearly reflect the cultural development of the settlement (Image 33).
Numeric data given in this section have been collected from the Marmaray area, but the data provided have been prepared based on the work carried out in the Metro area until mid-2013. There is generally only a small probability that one will find wooden artifacts from that date to the Neolithic Age in archaeological excavations, because organic material does not hold up well over time. For this reason, the rich variety of wooden materials found in the Anatolian prehistoric excavations at sites dating to 6500–5800 BC is astonishing. Thirty-five engraved wood pieces were found during the Metro and Marmaray excavations, which make up 5.1% of the total inventory. The Neolithic Age findings from the Yenikapı excavations are very important for Turkish and international archaeology, as they were found under water, inside silt, and in an anoxic environment. They are described below; some of the wooden pieces are tools and some are unidentified engraved objects. It is certain that the wooden tools that were found but could not be identified were the products of highly skilled labor.
At the watercourse found on the south of the settlement that dates to the Fikirtepe culture, two wooden rows were found at a depth of −6.60 meters with a length of 1.35 meters and 1.13 meters, respectively. Their rows and thin handles were designed in proportion by a skilled craftsman. Inside the watercourse, 2 wooden bow pieces, a throwing stick for hunting small animals, and a wooden boomerang-like implement were recovered. In other places within this field, two wooden pots and one figurine were found (Images 34-38).
During the excavation of the Metro area in 2010, a figurine 0.8 centimeters thick and 10.8 centimeters long was found. The surface of the figurine was worn off, and there were broken and missing parts on both sides. The piece, which narrows toward the end and has a slim, cylindrical head, was engraved in steps. The head widens toward the bottom and is decorated with an X-shaped mark. The neck has the shape of a long cylinder and consists of two joints, while the upper body is rectangular and tilts toward the sides. The flat portion of the figurine’s upper body has been adorned with an X-shaped mark, just like the head. The cylindrical, long and slim body sharpens dramatically toward its end, where the tip has broken off. A great deal of Fikirtepe pottery was found around the figurine, which indicates that the figurine belonged to a phase of Fikirtepe culture that we have not yet been able to exactly identify.
It is rare to find organic material like wood during an archaeological excavation; such material is usually found only in European countries in swamp excavations. On the other hand, a figurine like the one in Yenikapı has not yet been found at any other site. The Fikirtepe culture, the most unique prehistoric culture of Istanbul and the East Marmara region, was thought to lack clay and stone figurines, in contrast to what has been uncovered for the Neolithic cultures contemporary to it. The Yenikapı finding contradicts this view and shows that this culture also produced figurines that reflected a particular belief system.30 Another wooden artifact from the Yenikapı site is a boomerang, which looks very similar to the boomerang a hunter is holding in his hands in an engraving depicting a hunting scene on a pot from the Tepecik Farm excavation. This pot has been dated to the last phase of the third stratum.31 A third wooden object is thought to have been a bow, engraved meticulously on one side and left roughly carved on the other. This piece belongs to the edge of the bow where the rope is tied. While this section gives a curved cross-section, the middle section of the bow, where it straightens, produces a rectangular cross-section.
One hundred and thirty bone tools that show similarities32 to the bone and horn objects found at Fikirtepe make up 19% of the total excavation inventory. These tools can be clearly divided into a few categories, such as handles, perforators, spatulas, spatulas used as flatteners, figurines, and a small number of spoons. Most of the bone artifacts are made out of the long bones of mammals, such as the lower legs and metacarpal bones of sheep and goats, while the horn artifacts are mostly made out of deer horn (Image 39-40).
Flint is the dominant material among the stone tools. Chipped stone artifacts make up 13.3% of this group and flint pieces 42.9%. Out of all of the different types of flint tools uncovered, shearers and scrapers are the most common. Among the main artifacts found for this period are bodkins of different lengths, with scrapped sides polished by the compression method, perforators, and prismatic cores (Image 41).
Immediately at the edge of the water bed located to the south of the settlement, at a depth of 6.51 to 6.73 meters, an ordinary earth tomb, thought to belong to a family, was found. In this tomb, labeled tomb number 1, were the skeletons of four people (two of them adults) in the hocker position. Of the adult skeletons, the lower one showed evidence of skillful preparation, having been laid on a wooden object that is 1 meter in length, sharp at one end and forked at the other. For the higher skeleton, no skull bones other than the lower jaw were found. From these details, it can be assumed that the latter corpse must have been buried shortly after the other three corpses. In addition to some fragments of a large pot lying on one of the children’s skeletons, four vessels of different sizes, similar in style to those of the Classical Fikirtepe culture, were placed in the tomb as gifts.
On the east side of the excavation area, near the eastern edge of the riverbed that lies in a north–south direction, tomb number 2 was discovered; this was covered by two pieces of wood at a depth of −7.60 meters. An item consisting of two horizontal and five vertical pieces of wood in a grid pattern that was placed beneath the skeleton in a northeast–southwest direction must surely have been part of the mechanism with which the corpse was carried to the tomb and buried. A pot with holes for rope handles, which was found near the feet of the skeleton, most likely belonged to another corpse.33 The bones of a child were subsequently placed in the jug. This jug and all the pots around the tomb are similar to those found in Fikirtepe (Image 42).
Tomb number 1, which was uncovered at a depth of −7.25 meters on the east side of the Yenikapı Metro excavation area, was also covered with wood. Workers found struts erected on four sides of the adult skeleton, which was laid in the hocker position, in a southwest–northeast direction. Next to the skeleton was an earthen pot from the Fikirtepe period, and around the pot many small plant seeds had been placed (Image 43). To the southwest of this tomb, another tomb (tomb number 2) was also discovered at a depth of −7.36 meters within the Metro site. The skeleton in this tomb was also in the hocker position. To the north of the skull, an earthen pot that belonged to the Fikirtepe culture was found (Image 44). Although this was the first clay excavation carried out in Turkey, what is archeologically more significant about this dig is the fact that seven cremation tombs, which had been unknown to have existed during the Anatolian Neolithic period, were discovered approximately 100 meters east of the settlement area, beneath the clay stratum on the natural floor (Image 45).
To the east of the Metro excavation site, approximately 50 meters northwest of the seven cremation containers found in the Marmaray Tunnel excavation site, several scattered pots and pans, charred pieces of mud brick, and charred bones were discovered. Within an area nearly 15 meters east of this tomb, which was of a cremation type and contained scattered artifacts, two cremation holes were found at a depth of −7.10 meters; here the corpses were burned and the bones were left behind. The largest of these holes is 95 × 84 centimeters in diameter, while the smaller one is 81 × 64 centimeters in diameter and cylindrical in shape (Image 46). The base and the sides of the larger cremation hole, hole number 1, hardened and changed color due to the heat. The artifacts at cremation hole number 2, which is located just west of the first one, were more widely scattered. Within this area, there were burned and whitened bones similar to those in tomb number 1. A total of 37 small beads and one large bead made of mollusk shells were found among the bones (Image 47).
Within the areas of dense architectural interest, the multiple tombs seen on the southern edge of those areas, which appear to represent intramural burial, and the cremation-type tombs that represent extramural burial, are especially interesting. These simple earthen tombs and amphora cremation tombs provide important data about the burial traditions of the Neolithic Age. The jugs that were left within the tombs as gifts for the dead and the cremation vessels with holes for rope handles that were found to the east of the area are similar to the vessels found in the fourth layer in both Fikirtepe and Yarımburgaz. Thus, it can be argued that these artifacts represent a transitional period between Classical Fikirtepe and Yarımburgaz 4. However, the jugs that were placed next to the cremation vessels as gifts for the dead are similar to the pots and pans that were found on the fourth layer at Yarımburgaz; thus, these must be from the same period.
The burial practices carried out in the Yenikapı Neolithic Age settlements could have taken three different forms: burial within a pit dug in the earth, bones placed within a pottery vessel that served as a secondary tomb, and cremation. The cremation areas discovered by researchers were of three different types. Although there are not enough data to establish the exact locations of the first and third burial types, tomb 1, which was different from the others, was discovered just below an area in which there were very large stones. There is a thick stratum consisting of sand and seashells around the skeletons; this is on a higher level than the other tombs. Around the other tombs a dense clay stratum, which lacks any archeological remains (such as animal bones or vessel fragments), was found. Within this clay stratum, no sand or seashells could be found. These observations strengthen the probability that tomb 1 belongs to a later period.
Eight skeletons were discovered in the four tombs found at the Yenikapı site; five of these belonged to adults; of those, three were female.34 The distinguishing feature of these tombs is the use of wood in their construction. It is generally rare for wood to be preserved within archeological areas. The fact that the wood within the Yenikapı Pottery-Neolithic strata remained intact and in good condition is related to the marsh that at one time surrounded the settlement.35
Nutrition and Economy
Settlements such as Fikirtepe, located near Istanbul on the East Marmara coastline, were simple village communities that had a mixed lifestyle based on farming, fishing, and hunting. Agricultural tools and the bones of domesticated animals were not often found in Fikirtepe. The numerous shells, fish, and wild animal bones that were found among the remains suggest that the people in the settlement fulfilled their nutrition needs by hunting and fishing; there is also evidence of a limited amount of farming.36
As is the case for the Fikirtepe and Pendik settlements, the location of the Yenikapı Neolithic settlement is near the coastline. Although excavations and archaeometry studies are still in progress, at this point it is possible to say that the Yenikapı Neolithic site is more advanced than the simple fisher-hunter village communities of the Fikirtepe settlements. Straw, wheat, barley, and corn residues were found in the river stratum in the middle of the basin that is located within the settlement area to the east. The bones of some domestic animals, like cattle, sheep, goats, deer, mountain goats, and fish, which suggest permanent residence, flint tool technology, and some other special finds are entirely consistent with the Neolithic character of the area.
Only a few findings related to agriculture were taken from other settlements of the Fikirtepe culture on the Marmara coastline. Although it is known that agriculture was very common and that many domestic animals were raised in the Yenikapı settlement, it should be taken into consideration that at the excavations of Fikirtepe, Yarımburgaz, and Pendik, uncovered plant remains were not as well preserved as they were at Yenikapı. During the excavation, no attempts were made to search for carbonized plants. However, as in other settlements within this culture, it has been observed that in Yenikapı, hunting played an important role in meeting nutritional needs. Based on the animal bones recovered, it can be concluded that the animal species that the people living in Yenikapı relied on included domestic mammals (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, and dogs); wild mammals (red deer, fallow deer, foxes, red foxes, wolves, deer, wild boars, coyotes, badgers, beavers, rabbits, rats, and dolphins); birds (wild geese and cormorants), and fish (meagre, mackerel, bass, bream, and catfish).
The fact that cattle bones are plentiful among the bones that have been examined demonstrates the role of domestic cattle in nutrition. There is also a high number of sheep and goat bones, as well as calf bones. Something similar can also be said for pigs. As a result, it can be argued that these four animals were bred specifically for the production of meat in the excavated Yenikapı settlement. Most of the mammals that would have been hunted were fully grown, especially fallow deer. The abundance of fish bones—including several large ones—is a sign that fishing played an important role in the economic life of this culture.
It is necessary to evaluate the Yenikapı Neolithic Age settlement, which is covered by a thick layer of seawater, in light of the changes that the Marmara Sea underwent over time. In general, the sea level during the last Ice Age, which was approximately 120 meters lower than it is today, is believed to have reached a level of −35 meters in 7,000 BC. This brought it to the same level as the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus at that time, and the salt water from the Aegean Sea began to mix with that of the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea; this process continued until 5,000 or 5,500 BC.
The Yenikapı Neolithic Age settlement was most probably established in its current location, which was not far from the coastline during the period when the Marmara Sea was a freshwater lake. It must have been submerged as a result of a rise in global sea levels. As a matter of fact, around the settlement, large flat stones, medium-sized round stones, pebbles, and sand can all be found at the same level. During the excavation of the sites, sand was discovered; immediately under the sand, sites that were on top of Miocene clay were found. After the water level of the Marmara started to rise, water covered the settlement; following this, first black-colored silt and then sand and stones carried by the rising sea water covered the area.
To the south of the settlement, a large number of Archaic-Classic Fikirtepe unglazed pots with handles, or with holes for rope handles, and some pottery with impressed ornaments that can be dated to the fourth and fifth Yarımburgaz phases were found, positioned among and on top of irregular rocks. The pots were all in a state of decay, with the lining and glaze worn away. The combination of Fikirtepe and Yarımburgaz materials among the sand and stones suggests that the settlement extended farther south. It is probable that the settlement, which was originally located on a slight elevation to the south, was swept away by the rising sea, causing pottery artifacts in various conditions to be carried north and deposited there.
During the excavations of the Yenikapı Neolithic layer, some architectural traces that reflect the way of life of that era, such as earthenware and wooden pieces, flint stones, bones, and tombs, were discovered. These were the first data related to the prehistoric settlement at Yenikapı. As the excavations progressed, new records from the prehistoric period were discovered. Different types of tombs that belonged to people living in this era, evidence of their funeral traditions, certain types of wooden houses, and hundreds of footprints constitute the first examples of Anatolian archaeology to be discovered. The arrangements of stones and other architectural traces demonstrate that the houses were square or round, with simple layouts. The frame system consisted of wooden posts reinforced with stone supports. The walls were constructed of wattle-and-daub and adobe blocks. Pottery constitutes the majority of the findings from this site, reflecting various stages of the authentic Fikirtepe culture of the Istanbul region. As is already known, the Neolithic period in Yenikapı lasted 1,600 years, ranging from the oldest stage of Fikirtepe culture (around 6,500 BC) to the Toptepe cultural stage (around 4,800 BC). 37 The settlements that existed 7 to 9 meters below the current sea level were covered by the sea, which expanded with the rise of the Marmara Sea in the Chalcolithic Age. Damaged by the force of waves, this settlement was only partially preserved. Furthermore, unlike settlements covered by earth, the different cultural layers were not retained as distinct strata, making analysis of the excavation results more difficult.
The pots, dishes, bone and wood materials, and status objects that were discovered are of high quality. Based on the recovered materials and evidence of different funeral traditions, it can be argued that two different cultural stages were occurring at the same time in the Yenikapı Neolithic Age.
Excavations of the Yenikapi Light Rail System Area
The excavations in the Yenikapı Light Rail System area were carried out to the north of the walls that surround the port, located to the northwest of the Yenikapı excavation area, as well as to the north of the tunnel that comes from Aksaray Metro, joining Yenikapı station. There, a rectangular structure made of stone walls, mortared with Khorasan mortar, was discovered lying in an east–west direction at a depth of 2.30 meters; this was labeled structure number 1. The base elevation of this structure is 1.10 meters; its current length is 5.50 meters and its width is 2.70 meters. Its floor was evenly paved with 30 × 30 centimeter rectangular bricks. It can be accessed by a staircase of four stone steps on the southwest edge.
Immediately next to the western side of the structure, there is another rectangular space of the same type; this has been labeled space B of structure number 1. The top level of this structure is 2.30 meters and the base level measures somewhere between 0.83 and 0.72 meters. The current structure is 6 meters long and 4.30 meters wide. There are staircases consisting of four steps each on the southeastern and northwestern sides, which serve as entrances to the structure. As with space A, the floor of this space was evenly paved with rectangular 30 × 30 centimeter bricks. The third space, which has been labeled space C and is located to the south of spaces A and B, is 9 meters long and 5 meters wide. The sloping base elevation is at a depth of 0.90 meter, and its floor is plastered with lime. A staircase on the southeastern edge, which consists of three steps, provides access to space C.
The walls of spaces A, B, and C, which belong to structure number 1 and which were plastered with lime, were quite large. There are water canals within spaces A and B. Within space A, a bronze coin dated to the end of the sixth century and pieces of an amphora from the sixth or seventh century have been discovered; the amphora could be restored to its original shape. Within space B, pieces of pots and an amphora that belonged to the sixth or seventh century have been discovered. Structure number 1, composed of the three spaces described above, was most probably a warehouse that dated to the sixth or seventh century. One golden coin and pots that belong to the ninth century were found on the base of a 2 × 14 meter channel; it is thought that this was a sewer. This canal intersects with structure number 1 in a northeast–southwest direction, and indicates that the canal belongs to the Middle Byzantine period.
Structure number 2, which has a rectangular design and a top elevation of 1 meter, was discovered to the south of structure number 1, space C. The northern wall, formed of stone and Khorasan mortar, which is placed in a northwest–southeast direction, is 1.30 meters wide, while the southern wall has an average width of 1 meter, and the eastern and western walls are on average 0.9 meter wide. Within a structure that measures 13 × 8 meters, there are two column bases 2.90 meters apart. The bases of the in situ marble columns measure 1.25 × 0.90 meters and are connected to a stone foundation with Khorasan mortar. These columns probably supported a wooden roof. On the floor of the structure, rectangular bricks can be seen; most of these are cracked. In the joints between the bricks, terracotta decorations have been placed vertically. During the cleaning of the floor bricks, one golden coin belonging to the period of Anastasios (reigned AD 491–518) was found within the joints. Based on the assumption that such coins must have been in circulation for many years, it can be supposed that the structure was built after the period of Anastasios, probably in the sixth century (Image 48).
This ruin, which lies in an east–west direction and is damaged up to the base level, was built on wooden stakes. The original upper surface of the structure, which currently measures 13 × 3 meters, is flat and was made with brick-dust mortar. Both short sides entered the opening section. The fact that the ruins lie parallel to the port and the stakes were placed systematically suggests that this structure was part of a stone dock (Image 49).
Excavations of the Sirkeci Station Area
The third archeological excavation area related to the Istanbul Marmaray Project is Sirkeci Station and its vicinity. Sirkeci was used as a port from 7,000 BC onward. It is estimated that the ancient port, which is thought to have been located about 250 meters farther shoreward than the existing port, gradually filled in during the last 2,500 years. The excavations within this area were carried out at four different points. The first two points were at the entrances to the station. The northern entrance is on the south of the station, and the southern entrance is on Ankara Avenue in Cağaloğlu. The other two points were located within ventilation structures; the eastern shaft is behind the station, and the western shaft is near Hocapaşa Mosque (Image 50).
The excavation area of the northern entrance lies under the final railway platform—specifically, under the outer rails of the suburban line. As in Yenikapı, the work in this area started with drilling, but as the architectural remains were discovered, the scope of the project expanded. During the excavations, a stratum from the Ottoman period, which consisted of various cultural stages, was identified. After this, a transitional layer was found, followed by layers containing items from the Byzantine period. The discoveries from the Ottoman period are thought to belong to the years 1453 through 1888. On a cadastral map dated 1881, it can be seen that the neighborhood of Elvanzade Mescidi,38 which was established during the reign of Mehmed II, existed before the construction of the station, between 1888 and 1890, at which point the neighborhood was destroyed.
Analysis of the dishes and pottery found in the Byzantine stratum suggests that ceramics were produced in this area of the city. The large number of tripod, coated, fired, and glazed ceramic pieces that were identified—as well as tripod, coated, and glazed workshop remnants, ceramic slag, marble mortars and pestles, and boring tools—support the supposition that these were the remains of a kiln. During the excavations in Sirkeci Station, remnants belonging to the late, middle, and early Byzantine periods were found below the layer containing artifacts from the Ottoman period; these remnants consisted of bricks and stones in a braid pattern with wooden beams. This excavation came to an end when the cultural stratum ended at 25 meters below sea level (Image 51-52).
Southern Entrance (Cağaloğlu)
In this excavation site, which continued along Ankara Avenue to the south, ruins of more than one stage were discovered; this was composed of many spaces that were formed in a crescent shape. With irregular stones and mortar combined in a rough manner, the structure was determined to have belonged to the 20th century. A partial brick floor was also uncovered along the southeastern edge of the excavation site, intersected by 20th-century walls with a set of steps attached (Image 53).
The architectural remains that were revealed during the excavation have been determined to be the northern end of the 278th square of the 1904 cadastral section, which contains the storage and housing section. The irregular stone walls found to the east of the site probably belonged to the walls of Ottoman buildings that were built by reusing Byzantine ruins. To the west of the walls, two late Byzantine structures made of brick and vaulting were discovered. Plaster residues suggest that these buildings were used as water tanks. Under the late Ottoman building remains that were discovered during the excavations, carried out throughout the area, researchers were able to identify the remains of the foundations of a building belonging to the middle Byzantine period. These remains are quite sturdy. Retaining walls, rising from the bedrock, have also been discovered. On the southern aspect of the site, street patterns from the Byzantine period, freshwater canals, sewers, and architectural remains from the early Byzantine period have been excavated and authenticated (Image 54).
Eastern Ventilation Shaft
The materials taken from this area provide glimpses into the historical period of Istanbul (7,000 BC to the present). In terms of quantity, the rims and bottoms of commercial amphorae, typical of this period, are important. These amphora pieces are helpful because they show the commercial relationships between Thasos, Rhodes, Chios, and Cos, as well as between Sinop, Black Sea Ereğli, and Byzantium (Image 55).
During the archeological excavations, carried out after the shafts were examined for security purposes, the remains of the foundations of two Ottoman architectural structures were discovered, and under these, the remains of a Byzantine structure. Dated to somewhere between the fifth and seventh centuries, these were removed to be reconstructed elsewhere within the project site, in keepıng with the decision of the Bölge Koruma Kurulu (the Regional Conservation Board, responsible for protection of historical artifacts).
Western Ventilation Shaft
During the excavations carried out in the foundations of the former vergi daire (tax office), materials from a wide span of time were discovered, from blue-and-white ceramics of the 16th century to everyday dishes from the 19th century. Under the filled-in stratum, another architectural layer belonging to the Ottoman period was discovered. To the east of the site, in a north–south direction, the foundations of a building with a brick floor, formed by closing a canal (which had been connected to other canals on both sides of the street) with stone slabs, were discovered. The building and the materials taken from around the building established that the architectural remains within this area were in use between the 16th and 17th centuries.
The identity of the person who constructed Hocapaşa Mosque (also known as Ayvansarayi or Hoca Üveys Masjid), located to the west of the excavation site, is a matter of debate. It has been stated that the patron of this building was Üveys Pasha.39 However, there were two pashas named Üveys who lived at the end of the 16th century, and it has not been possible to determine which was responsible for the mosque. The canal discovered during the excavations and the remnants of the solid foundation are a reminder that when Hocapaşa Mosque was rebuilt in the 19th century, it was built on the site of the earlier mosque. Since the discoveries at this site can be dated to the 16th century, the same century in which its patron lived, researchers have suggested that the wall in question belongs to the first mosque. Traces of fire and restoration activities detected on the remnants discovered to the east of the street are probably related to the fires and earthquakes that occurred in the 16th and 17th centuries (Images 56–57).
Underneath the remnants from the 16th and 17th centuries, a stratum consisting of three periods was discovered. Pieces of foundations, canals, pipelines, and parts of stone or rammed-earth flooring have been found, all dated to the 14th or 15th centuries. Among the ceramic materials found in this stratum, there were glazed or single-glazed pieces, as well as colorful engraved and glazed pieces, Miletus ware, and early blue-and-white ceramics made in İznik. As for the second period, flat kitchen utensils made from 15th-century Ottoman material, very colorful engraved ceramic pieces, and pieces of Miletus ware have been found. Within this second period, the Ottoman and Byzantine materials were mixed. Under this layer, a multiphase late-Byzantine cultural layer was discovered; this contained two different architectural layers. In the second architectural layer of the Byzantine period, the head of a marble statue of a woman, dating to the Roman period, was found (Image 58).40
As can be seen, due to the constant presence of settlements at this site since the first century BC, multiphase architectural strata that belong to different periods were disturbed, reaching us in a fragmented state. The intensity of architectural activities engendered confusion among the culture strata.
The artifacts and architectural remains found in the excavations carried out in four different areas in Sirkeci provide evidence of one of the oldest ports of the city, Prosforion or Fosforion, located in the area covered by the northern entrance and eastern ventilation shaft near Sirkeci Station. Exhaustive studies on these findings will provide a great deal of knowledge about the port, as well as about commercial relations throughout the history of Byzantium/Constantinople/Istanbul, and the general social life of the region (Image 59).
Excavations of the Üsküdar Station Area
Another important site in the Marmaray Project is Üsküdar Station, part of the tunnel route on the Asian side. The excavations, which were begun in October 2004 and were carried out under difficult conditions due to the heavy traffic in Üsküdar, were completed in the autumn of 2008 (Image 60). Üsküdar Square was changed considerably during renovations in 1954, 1956, and 1980; power, water, and gas lines destroyed the square and the cultural strata beneath it. As a result, the earlier layout of streets, as seen in the engravings and in the city plan of Pervititich, has not survived. To provide a clear understanding of the precise location of the excavation sites within the square, the various areas of the site were labeled as they are related to the buildings that exist today.
One of the most important resources on the archeological strata of Üsküdar Square is Küçük Asya Coğrafyası, Tarihi ve Arkeolojisi, written by Charles Texier, who described life in the region at the end of the 19th century. Texier recorded the following statements about Üsküdar: “The Asian coastline, which is washed by the waters of Bosphorus from Kadıköy to the mouth of the Black Sea, lies from north to south without forming any deep gulfs. Ships can berth at the bay of Üsküdar, which was previously deep but was later filled as people settled there.” Pierre Gilles said that when Süleyman the Magnificent built a mosque on the Asian side for his daughter Mihrimah Sultan, the debris and other materials that were dug out during construction were dumped in this bay. In the following years, the debris from the construction of Yeni Valide Mosque was also used to fill in this cove, which was still a bay in 1710.41
The findings from the excavations in Üsküdar Square and other parts of Üsküdar confirm information provided in ancient sources. Artifacts belonging to the Archaic, Classic, Hellenistic, and Roman periods have been unearthed, and architectural remains belonging to the Byzantine and Ottoman periods have been discovered.
The Üsküdar Square excavations began in the 10,000 square meter, T-shaped area that lies between the middle of the square and the rear of Şemsi Paşa Mosque. Partial remains of building foundations belonging to the late Ottoman period also appear in the insurance maps made by Pervititch in 1933. The excavation layout plan and the maps of Pervititich were compared at the same scale, which made it possible to identify some foundation remains. Other building foundations, which belong to the late Ottoman period and do not appear on these maps, have also been discovered. In general terms, a large street and the shops opening out onto this street have been discovered. It is recorded in older sources that the bazaar, of which remnants of the foundations have been discovered, was the endowment of Rum Mehmed Pasha. Since Mehmed Pasha died in 1470, it is estimated that the bazaar was constructed before this date; it was created to raise money for the mosque and its alms house. In Mir’at-ı Istanbul, published in 1896, Mehmed Raif stated that this bazaar was covered by a vaulted ceiling, and that there were approximately 50 stores. The entire bazaar was demolished in 1956. In the same area, the stone pavement of a tannery, which can also be seen on the maps of Pervititch, was unearthed, as were wooden barrels and a foundation constructed in a grid layout. Under this grid floor, some wooden poles of 10, 11, and 12 centimeter diameters were found partially buried in the ground. These poles had been fixed to horizontal foundations with iron nails measuring 14 and 18 centimeters in length.
Foundations and paved floors of buildings from the recent past were also discovered during the Üsküdar excavations. To get past the strata that had been formed throughout the centuries, the soil was drilled down to −7 meters. As a result, a wealth of materials that could shed light on the history of Üsküdar have been discovered.
Tombs under the Apsidal Structure
To determine the demographic character of the community that once lived in Üsküdar using the criteria developed, 97 skeletons found under the remains of the apsidal building were analyzed in the laboratories of Ankara University’s Department of Language, History, and Geography to determine their age and sex. This paleodemographic analysis determined that 3 of the skeletons were children, 14 were women, and 73 were men; the sex of the remaining 7 skeletons could not be determined. It was also determined that the average age of the adults at death was similar to that in the older Anatolian communities, 30 to 40 years. Detailed scientific studies of the ancient Üsküdar community are still being carried out (Image 61).42
The excavations carried out in Üsküdar were not limited to the square but extended to areas to which infrastructure such as freshwater and sewer canals and energy. The studies focused on the vicinities of Ahmet III’s fountain and Mihrimah Sultan Mosque. Treasures covered by the soil started to appear during these extended excavations, and new finds were made that shed light on the Byzantine period of Üsküdar; for example, the remains of the apsidal building discovered in front of Mihrimah Sultan Mosque and the Küçük Hamam (small baths). Having the characteristics of Byzantine architecture, the building has been dated to the 12th or 13th century. Based on the layout of this structure, constructed with the hidden brick technique, it appears to have had a religious character. Within the inner space and the area between the temenos wall, more than 90 tombs were discovered. One of the tombs was found under the remains of the foundation of the apsidal building, indicating that this area was used as a cemetery before the construction of the apsidal building. After the first examinations of the skeletons, it was determined that the males and females had been buried in different positions; the hands of the males were crossed over their stomachs and those of the females over their breasts. Offerings were only discovered in two tombs.
Important discoveries have been made near the Ahmet III Fountain, where the passenger section of the Metro station is to be built. First, there are lines of single stones, indicating the presence of a pier on the coast of the bay that was eventually filled in. Another surprising discovery was a wooden pier or port, constructed by joining wooden logs in the form of crates, which sloped toward the sea. The inside of these crates was strengthened by large and small stones and lined with mortar. The structure was considerably damaged at one point and then repaired by inserting wooden poles into the ground. Its length is 13 meters from east to west and 7.30 meters from north to south, and its width is 1.95 meters. The crate-wall technique indicates that it was constructed during the Antique Period; this technique first began to be used throughout the entire Mediterranean world in the first century BC. According to Prokopios (500–565), this system was also used in the ports on the Historic Peninsula. It is thought that this system, located near the apsidal building, was used until somewhere between the ninth and 13th centuries.43 To protect it from negative conditions, special methods were used to cover the pier. Similar systems were also discovered elsewhere during the excavations (Image 62).
Golden Horn Metro Transition Bridge
The Golden Horn Metro Transition Bridge connects the Beyoğlu and Unkapanı tunnels, which are part of the Taksim–Yenikapı Metro route. For the construction of this bridge, which is 387 meters in length, 20 locations for abutments—16 on land and 4 in the sea—were planned. Nine of the land abutments are located in Beyoğlu and 7 along the Unkapanı viaduct; the archeological excavations of these abutments began in December 2009 (Image 62).
The abutments are located near areas where immovable cultural assets are still standing. Abutments A5-7, P5-6, P5-5, P5-3, and P5-1 on the Beyoğlu side are located along the remnants of walls that were built by the Genoese, who settled in Galata from the 13th century onward. Other immovable assets on the Beyoğlu side are located on the route of the bridge, but not within the borders of the abutments: Azapkapılı Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Mosque, Saliha Sultan Fountain, Hatipzade Yahya Paşa Fountain, and Yeşildirek Public Bathhouse, built by Mimar Sinan. Structures found on the Unkapanı side are Süleymaniye Mosque and Hoca Hayrettin Üç Mihraplı Mosque, located near the tunnel exit.
Excavations on both sides of the Golden Horn Bridge were carried out at different depths in the locations of abutments, since a continuously sloping design would have been untenable. The excavations continued until they reached a depth at which researchers ceased to find archeological strata.
On the locations of abutments between Tersane Avenue and the sea on the Beyoğlu side, the excavations went down to 6 meters below the surface for the P4-1, P4-2, P4-3, P5-1, P5-3, and P5-4 abutments; in P4-1, P4-2, and P4-3 strata, relics from the Republican, Ottoman, and Byzantine periods were unearthed. Roman, Hellenistic, and a few Classical period remains were also found at the locations of abutments P5-1 and P5-3. The architectural remains found at these locations consist of structures from later cultural periods, such as canals, wells, foundations, and portions of Byzantine walls, the functions of which are unclear.
Since the slope of the seabed in Beyoğlu increases toward Şişhane, it took less time to arrive at the bedrock at abutments P5-5, P5-6, and P5-7. The remains at the location of abutment A5-7, which is located at the top of the slope, were constructed directly on the bedrock. A piece of the Genoese wall, which lies parallel to these abutments, was also constructed on the bedrock.
During the excavations carried out on the Unkapanı side, as in Beyoğlu, the excavations went down to approximately 6 meters in depth at the locations of abutments P1-7, P1-6, and P1-5, which are close to the sea; cultural strata belonging to the Republican, Ottoman, and Byzantine periods were discovered.
At abutments P1-4, P1-3, and P1-2, which are farther from the sea and located within the land walls, discoveries that were archeologically easier to trace have been discovered. Because the structures there, found at three different abutment points 20 meters away from each other, continue in cross sections, and because the walls and walling techniques resemble one another, it seems that the mostly middle and late Byzantine remains in all three areas are related. However, since later construction destroyed the remains of any ancient buildings at these locations, no integrated plan for the structures has been identified.
Unlike at the other abutments, in the location of abutment A1-1, a small part of a structure with an apse and 12 tombs have been discovered.
Beyoğlu Viaduct Area
From the sea to the land in the Beyoğlu Viaduct area, excavations have been carried out at the locations of 9 abutments: P4-1, P4-2, P4-3, P5-1, P5-3, P5-4, P5-5, P5-6, and P5-7. The abutments of P4-1, P4-2, P5-1, and P5-3 are located between the sea and Tersane Avenue, and P5-4, P5-5, P5-6, and A5-7 are located between Şişhane and Tersane Avenue.
Abutment P4-1: Since this location, which is very near to the sea, consists of one complete stratum, it was possible to complete the excavation quickly. The wooden poles discovered within the cleared area were documented and removed in accordance with decisions made by the Bölge Koruma Kurulu. Four metal pipes, each 2.5 meters in diameter, were embedded in this abutment point. The interior of the pipes, placed at a distance of -9/-24 meters, had been emptied at a distance of 1 meter. The remains that were discovered indicate that this location was a stratum from the late Ottoman and Republican periods.
Abutment P4-2 is located between the sea and Tersane Avenue. Excavations were begun at a depth of 2.20 meters; to a depth of 2.80 meters, the area was filled with dense organic remains. Within this organic stratum a large, grid-shaped item was found, made of horizontal and vertical wooden poles dating to the late Ottoman period. These wooden remains probably belonged to a port or to a system that was constructed to strengthen the ground. The excavations here ceased due to a collapse of the site at a depth of −3.50 meters. During the construction activities carried out within this abutment area, the cultural stratum that was dug out in 1meter intervals at depths of −3.50 to 24 meters was sifted out and traced, and artifacts from the late Ottoman and Republican periods were identified.
Abutment P4-3 is located between the sea and Tersane Avenue. Excavations began at a depth of 3.30 meters, and parts of the contemporary cultural strata and infrastructure were discovered at the surface. After these sections were removed, walls that belonged to the late Ottoman and Republican periods were discovered at 2.23 meters. The walls were documented and removed in accordance with the decisions of the Bölge Koruma Kurulu. Afterward, the excavations continued to a depth of −3 meters; meanwhile, 4 protection pipes, measuring 2.5 meters in diameter, were fastened to this abutment to guard against the wall caving in. The layer of soil that was discovered at depths of −3 to −17 meters was sifted, and artifacts belonging to the following periods were uncovered: between 1 and 0.5 meters, Ottoman period; between 0.50 and 0.00 meters, Ottoman and Byzantine periods; between 0 and −3 meters, middle and late Byzantine periods; and between −3 and −7 meters, early Byzantine and Roman periods. At a depth of −20 meters, the researchers hit bedrock.
Abutment P5-1 is located between the sea and Tersane Avenue, immediately in front of the Genoese walls. Excavations started at a depth of 4 meters. After the current stratum was removed, remnants were discovered beginning at 3.20 meters; these included a sewer canal dated to the late Ottoman period and a well built of brick and masonry. A wall built of stone and lime mortar was discovered at a depth of 1.90 meters. However, the excavations that were carried out in front of the Genoese walls had to be abandoned because the walls were in danger of collapsing. After the Genoese walls had been reinforced by steel trusses, the stratum of soil that was discovered at a depth of 0.00 to −13 meters was sifted. Throughout that range, researchers found items from the Byzantine, Roman, and Hellenistic periods, as well as a few Classical period remains. In the soil from 4 to 0.00 meters, remains belonging to the Ottoman and Byzantine periods were found. Bedrock was reached at a depth of 13 meters.
Abutment P5-3 is located between the sea and Tersane Avenue, immediately in front of the Genoese walls. Excavations started at a depth of 5.61 meters. After the layers of asphalt and debris were removed, walls from the Republican and late Ottoman periods were discovered at 3.8 meters. After precautions had been taken to prevent the wall from collapsing, the culture soil, which was found between a depth of 0.00 and −5 meters, was sifted. Between 5.61 and 3.8 meters, remains from the Ottoman period were found; between 3.8 and 0.00 meters, remains from the Byzantine period were found. Throughout the investigated range, items from the Byzantine and Hellenistic periods and a few from the Classical period were found. Bedrock was reached at a depth of −7 meters (Image 63).
Abutment P5-4 is located between Tersane Avenue and Şişhane. Excavations started at a depth of 5.51 meters. At a depth of 3.83 meters, vaulted sewer canals, which belong to the Ottoman period and were built of bricks and lime mortar, were discovered, but it was observed that they had been damaged during the construction of electric lines. At a depth of 2.44 meters, an arched building made of faced stone was uncovered; this was in considerable distress. At a depth of 1.9 meters, stone walls with brick-dust mortar were found. Due to problems with the condition of the ground, the excavations could only continue with the use of the caisson-well method. At depths of 5.5 to 2.5 meters, remains that belonged mostly to the Ottoman period but also to the Turkish and Byzantine periods were discovered; between 2.5 and 1.5 meters, remains were for the most part from the Ottoman period but also from the Byzantine and Turkish periods. Between 1.50 and 0.50 meters, most remains were from the Byzantine and Turkish periods, but there were also a few in poor condition from the Roman and Hellenistic periods. From the surface to a depth of −1.2 meters, no artifacts were found. Between −1.2 and −2.8 meters, a sand and gravel stratum with a great number of seashells was discovered. Bedrock was reached at a depth of −2.8 meters.
Abutment P5-5 is located between Tersane Avenue and Şişhane. Excavations began at a depth of 6.69 meters. After the layers of modern infrastructure had been removed, at a depth of 5.50 meters, a wall that was made with main stones, in parallel and like the Genoese walls, which were made with rubble and lime mortar, remaining in the cross-section of the well, were discovered. After this wall was properly protected, the investigations continued using the caisson-well method until researchers hit bedrock at a depth of −2.80 meters. The ruins of the entire wall could not be traced or uncovered, as they extended outside the investigation area. Despite this limitation, cultural strata from the late Ottoman and the Republican periods were successfully identified at the location of this abutment.
Abutment P5-6 is located between Tersane Avenue and Şişli. Excavations started at a depth of 10.41 meters and finished at a depth of 8.2 meters, when bedrock was reached; no archeological data were found.
Abutment A5-7 is located between Tersane Avenue and Şişhane. Excavations started at a depth of 15.11 meters and continued until bedrock was reached at a depth of 12.55 meters. The slope of the ground increases from the sea to Şişhane, and the remnants found at abutments P5-5, P5-6, and A5-7 had been constructed directly on the bedrock. A partial Genoese wall, lying parallel to the abutments, had also been constructed on the bedrock. Within this area, a vaulted brick structure was discovered; this could be dated to the late Ottoman period and was built on the bedrock. In addition, a pebble floor that at one time served as the yard of a building was found. These two ruins were transferred, in accordance with the decisions of the Bölge Koruma Kurulu and the reports of experts, for use in an urban renewal design project. Part of this, which remained within the arched structure project, was cut out and removed.
Unkapanı Viaduct Area
These excavations were carried out in the locations of abutments P1-5, P1-6, and P1-7, located between the sea and Ragıp Gümüşpala Avenue, and in the locations of abutments A1-1, P1-2, P1-3, and P1-4, located between the same street and the Tünel.
Abutment P1-7 is located between the sea and Ragıp Gümüşpala Avenue. Excavations began at a depth of 2.03 meters and were completed at −2.20 meters. Between the range of 2.03 and −0.20 meters, the remains of a cobblestone pavement and the foundation of the Eski Hal (market) were discovered. Within the cultural stratum from 0 to −40 meters, artifacts from the Republican, Ottoman, Byzantine, and late Roman periods were found.
Abutment P1-6 is located between the street and the sea. Excavations started at a depth of 2.9 meters and ended at −2 meters. As in P1-7, between 2.9 and −2 meters, the remains of a cobblestone pavement and the foundation of a marketplace were discovered. At the lower depths, walls and wooden ground support systems from the Republican and Ottoman periods were found interspersed. Artifacts from the Republican, Ottoman, Byzantine, and late Roman periods were found in the cultural stratum between −2 and −32 meters deep.
Abutment P1-5 is located between the sea and the street. Excavations were carried out between 4.07 and −0.80 meters. Like in the previous abutment area, foundation remains of the same marketplace building could be traced at depths of 4.07 to 0.80 meters; no other architectural remains could be identified. Within the cultural stratum that begins at 4 meters and ends at −13 meters, artifacts belonging to the Republican, Ottoman, and Byzantine periods were found.
Abutment P1-4 is located between the metro tunnel and Ragıp Gümüşpala Avenue. Excavations were made between 4.10 and −7.40 meters, at which point bedrock was reached. At a depth of 3.72 meters, in a northwest–southeast direction, a structure made of faced stone, brick, and brick-dust mortar, built during the Ottoman period, was identified near the wall, which dates to the 12th or 13th century. Between −2 and −3.30 meters, artifacts from the Roman period were extracted from a layer filled with seashells. The immovable cultural assets that were discovered were covered and taken under protection in accordance with expert reports. The locations of the abutments were also changed within the scope of the Metro project.
Abutment P1-3 is located between the Metro tunnel and Ragıp Gümüşpala Avenue. Excavations were carried out at depths between 6.05 and 2 meters. A niche wall, the upper end of which is at the surface, was discovered. This wall is dated to the 12th or 13th century and is approximately 4 × 5 meters in size. Because of the presence of these ruins, the decision to place an abutment there was rescinded.
Abutment P1-2 is located between the Metro tunnel and the same street. Excavations started at 7.50 meters and finished at a depth of 1.70 meters, when the bedrock was reached. Wells, channels, and stone and concrete walls that date to the Republican and Ottoman periods were documented and removed. From a depth of 3.85 meters and deeper, remains that belong to the Byzantine period were identified.
Abutment A1-1 is located at the mouth of tunnel. Excavations started at a depth of 10.52 meters and finished at a depth of 5 meters. In addition to a few findings from the Ottoman and Byzantine periods, 57 coins dated to the 13th century were found.
The excavations of the Cer railway repair building, which were planned to take place in the mouth of the tunnel, started at a depth of 6.40 meters. At the upper elevation of 7.34 meters, the entire apse of a structure built of stone and brick, lying in a northeast–southwest direction, was successfully excavated. In addition, 12 tombs, estimated to belong to the same period, were discovered. Most of the tombs had been ruined when wells were dug during the Ottoman period.
Archeological excavations were also carried out in seven areas of the abutments of the Unkapanı Approach Viaduct. On both sides, the excavations were generally carried out within openings measuring 5 × 5 or 10 × 10 meters. During excavations, particularly those carried out in the abutment areas close to the sea, there was a risk of cave-ins because the ground was weak and could easily collapse. Thus, the excavations had to be done by emptying out the 1-meter-thick stratum through metal pipes that were 2.5 meters in diameter inserted into the excavation area. The stratum soil that was removed with these pipes was sifted with wet sieves, allowing the materials within the soil to be collected. During the studies on both sides of the Golden Horn, the artifacts that were recovered were mostly from the Republican, Ottoman, and Byzantine periods; there were wall fragments, but these were insufficient to provide a clue about the original layout of the walls. Studies on these materials are still being carried out.
The excavations that were carried out in parallel to the construction of the Marmaray and Metro rail construction projects, initiated to offer a solution to Istanbul’s transportation problems, have become the most extensive archeological survey in the city’s history. As a result, detailed information has been gained regarding the prehistoric periods of Istanbul, an area which has hosted different cultures for thousands of years and which unites the cultures of the East and the West. Before 2004, information about the settlement history of Istanbul was based on excavations outside the Historic Peninsula; settlements in these areas could be traced to 2,500 years ago. The finds that were made in the Yenikapı Excavations trace the settlement history of the Historic Peninsula back 8,500 years. The fact that the findings from the Yenikapı Neolithic Settlement resemble those seen in the Fikirtepe culture and Yarımburgaz Phase 4 proves that the settlement in the peninsula is as old as these two settlements. The discovery of ancient structures, including ports, provides important data that allowed us to trace the changes that the Marmara Sea has undergone over the last 10,000 years. Nearly 35,000 artifacts, belonging to the Neolithic, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman ages, have been documented and put at the disposal of science. It is certain that additional genuine finds will be made as a result of systematic excavations and additional surveys that are expected to be carried out independently from the infrastructure projects in the future. There can be no doubt that these studies will shed light on unknown aspects of the historical record.
1 Zeynep Kızıltan, “Yenikapı Kurtarma Kazılarında Bulunan Neolitik Döneme Ait Ahşap Bir Figürin”, Tüba-Ar, 2011, no. 14, pp. 305-308.
2 M. Metin Gökçay, “Marmaray Kazılarında Ortaya Çıkan Mimari Buluntular”, Gün Işığında İstanbul’un 8000 Yılı, haz. Arzu Karamani Pekin, Istanbul: Vehbi Koç Vakfı, 2007, pp. 177- 178.
3 Wolfgang Müller-Wiener, Bizans’tan Osmanlı’ya İstanbul Limanı, translated by Erol Özbek, Istanbul: Türkiye Ekonomik ve Toplumsal Tarih Vakfı, 1998, p. 8.
4 Feridun Dirimtekin, Fetihten Önce Marmara Surları, Istanbul: İstanbul Fethi Derneği, 1953, p. 59; Müller-Wiener, Istanbul Limanı, p. 8; Sait Başaran, “Demirden Yollar ve Marmaray Kıyısında Eski Bir Liman”, Yenikapı’nın Eski Gemileri, edited by Ufuk Kocabaş, Istanbul: Ege Yayınları, 2012, vol. 1, p. 19.
5 Rahmi Asal, “İstanbul Ticareti ve Theodosius Limanı”, Gün Işığında İstanbul’un 8000 Yılı, p. 155.
6 Albrecht Berger, “Theodosius Limanı”, DBİst.A, VII, 263.
7 Petrus Gyllius, İstanbul’un Tarihi Eserleri, translated by Erendiz Özbayoğlu, Istanbul: Eren Yayıncılık, 2000, p. 8.
8 Gökçay, “Marmaray Kazıları”, p. 171.
9 Ufuk Kocabaş, “Theodosius Limanı’nda Hayat, Batıklar ve Hızlı Gömülme”, Yenikapı’nın Eski Gemileri : Yenikapı Batıkları, edited by Ufuk Kocabaş, Istanbul: Ege Yayınları, 2012, vol. 1, pp. 25-35; Ufuk Kocabaş and Işıl Özsait-Kocabaş, “Gemi Arkeolojisinde Yeni Bir Milat, Yenikapı Batıkları Projesi”, Saklı Limandan Hikayeler: Yenikapı’nın Batıkları, Istanbul: İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri and Vehbi Koç Vakfı, 2013, pp. 37-46; Cemal Pulak, “Yenikapı Bizans Batıkları”, Gün Işığında İstanbul’un 8000 Yılı, pp. 215, 208-209; Cemal Pulak et.al., “Yenikapı Batıkları ve Batıkların Gemi Yapımı Araştırmalarına Katkısı”, Saklı Limandan Hikayeler: Yenikapı’nın Batıkları, pp. 23-34.
10 Doğan Perinçek, “Yenikapı Kazı Alanının Son 8000 Yıllık Jeo-Arkeolojisi ve Doğal Afetlerin Jeolojik Kesitteki İzleri”, “Yenikapı Antik Liman Kazılarında Jeoarkeoloji Çalışmaları ve Yeni Bulgular”, Türkiye Jeoloji Kurultayı: Bildiri Özetleri Kitabı (April 16- 22, 2007), Istanbul: MTA Genel Müdürlüğü Kültür Sitesi, 2010, pp. 131-135.
11 Ufuk Kocabaş, “Istanbul Üniversitesi Yenikapı Batıkları Projesi: Gemiler”, 1. Marmaray-Metro Kurtarma Kazıları Sempozyumu Bildiri Kitabı (May 5-6, 2008), Istanbul: İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzesi, 2010 pp. 23-33.
12 Müller-Wiener, Istanbul Limanı, p. 18; J. H. Pryor and E. M. Jeffreys, The Age of the ΔPOMΩN, Leiden: Brill, 2006, p. 372.
13 Pulak, “Yenikapı Bizans Batıkları”, p. 215.
14 H. Işıl Özsait-Kocabaş and Ufuk Kocabaş, “Yenikapı Batıklarında Teknoloji ve Konstrüksiyon Özellikleri: Bir Ön Değerlendirme”, Yenikapı’nın Eski Gemileri, vol. 1, p. 102.
15 Pulak, “Yenikapı Bizans Batıkları”, pp. 208- 209; Pulak et.al., “Yenikapı Batıkları”, pp. 23-34.
16 Özsait-Kocabaş and Kocabaş, “Yenikapı Batıklarında Teknoloji”, p. 152; Ayşegül Çetiner, “Yenikapı 3: Geçmişi Taşıyan Bir Ticaret Gemisi”, Saklı Limandan Hikayeler: Yenikapı’nın Batıkları, pp. 56-63.
17 Özsait-Kocabaş and Ufuk Kocabaş, “Yenikapı Batıklarında Teknoloji”, p. 103; Işıl Özsait-Kocabaş, “Yenikapı 12 Teknesinin Yüzyıllar Süren Yolculuğu”, Saklı Limandan Hikayeler: Yenikapı’nın Batıkları, pp. 48-55.
18 Peter Ian Kuniholm, “Yenikapı’da Dendrokronolojik Araştırmalar ve Diğer Marmaray Proje Alanları”, Hayalden Gerçeğe Bir İstanbul Öyküsü Marmaray, ed. Şöhret Baltaş and Şafak Altun, Ankara: Gama Holding, 2014, pp. 182-186.
19 Gökçay, “Marmaray Kazıları”, pp. 172- 173.
20 Vedat Onar et.al., “Yenikapı Metro ve Marmaray Kazılarında Ortaya Çıkartılan Hayvan İskelet Kalıntılarının Ön İnceleme Sonuçları”, 1. Marmaray-Metro Kurtarma Kazıları Sempozyumu Bildiri Kitabı (May 5-6, 2008), pp. 223-231.
21 M. N. Çağatay et. al., “Late Pleistocene-Holocene Evolution of the Northern Shelf of The Marmara Sea”, Marine Geology, 2009, no. 265, pp. 87-100.
22 Oya Algan, M. Namık Yalçın and Mehmet Özdoğan, “Yenikapı Kazıları Jeoarkeolojik Çalışmaları, Son Buzul Dönemi’nden Günümüze Çevre Koşullarındaki Değişmeler ve Kültür Tarihine Yansımaları”, Hayalden Gerçeğe Bir İstanbul Öyküsü Marmaray, pp. 154-160.
23 Oya Algan et. al, “Antik Theodosius Limanı Jeo-arkeolojisi”, 1. Marmaray-Metro Kurtarma Kazıları Sempozyumu Bildiri Kitabı, (May 5-6, 2008), pp. 175-179.
24 Emel Oybak Dönmez, “İstanbul’un Marmaray ve Metro Kazılarında Yapılan Arkeobotanik Çalışmalar”, 1. Marmaray-Metro Kurtarma Kazıları Sempozyumu Bildiri Kitabı, pp. 233-243.
25 Sırrı Çömlekçi, “Yenikapı’da Teknolyoji”, Gün Işığında İstanbul’un 8000 Yılı, pp. 236-241.
26 Arzu Toksoy, “Yenikapı’da İnanç”, Gün Işığında Istanbul’un 8000 Yılı, pp. 230-235.
27 Gülbahar Baran, “Yenikapı’da Günlük Yaşam”, Gün Işığında İstanbul’un 8000 Yılı, , pp. 216-220.
28 Zeynep Kızıltan, “Marmaray ve Metro Projeleri Kapsamında Yapılan Yenikapı Sirkeci ve Üsküdar Kazıları”, 1. Marmaray-Metro Kurtarma Kazıları Sempozyumu Bildirileri Kitabı (May 5-6, 2008), pp. 1-16.
29 Dilek Doğu et. al., “Wood Identification of Wooden Marine Piles from the Ancient Byzantine Port of Eleutherius/Theodosius”, BioResources, 2011, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 987-1018.
30 Kızıltan, “Neolitik Döneme Ait Ahşap Bir Figürin”, pp. 305-308; Zeynep Kızıltan and Mehmet Ali Polat, “Yenikapı Kurtarma Kazıları: Neolitik Dönem Çalışmaları”, Arkeoloji ve Sanat, 2013, no. 143, pp. 1-40.
31 Erhan Bıçakçı et. al., “Tepecik-Çiftlik 2006 Yılı Çalışmaları”, 29. Kazı Sonuçları Toplantısı (May 28-June 1, 2007, Kocaeli), Ankara: T.C. Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı Yayınları, 2008, vol. 1, p. 249, Figure 35d.
32 Mehmet Özdoğan, “Pendik: A Neolithic Site of Fikirtepe Culture in the Marmara Region”, Beitrage zur Altertumskunde Kleinasiens, Festschrift für Kurt Bittel, edited by R. M. Boehmer and H. Hauptmann, Mainz : P. von Zabern, 1983, p. 408.
33 Yasemin Yılmaz, “Marmara Bölgesi Neolitik Dönem Ölü Gömme Geleneklerinde İlkler: Yenikapı Kazı Bulguları”, Tüba-Ar, 2011, no. 14, pp. 283-302.
34 Yılmaz, “Marmara Bölgesi Neolitik Dönem Ölü Gömme Geleneklerinde İlkler”, p. 301.
35 Mehmet Özdoğan, “Tarih Öncesi Dönemlerin İstanbul’u”, Bizantion’dan İstanbul’a Bir Başkentin 8000 Yılı, Istanbul: Sabancı Üniversitesi Sakıp Sabancı Müzesi, 2010, pp. 30-49.
36 Mehmet Özdoğan, “Tarihöncesi Çağlarda İstanbul”, İstanbul, World City, Istanbul: Türkiye Ekonomik ve Toplumsal Tarih Vakfı, 1996, pp. 88-101; Mehmet Özdoğan, “Tarihöncesi Dönemde İstanbul”, Semavi Eyice Armağanı, Istanbul: Türkiye Turing ve Otomobil Kurumu, 1992, pp. 39-54.
37 K. Bittel, “Bemerkungen über die prähistorische Ansiedlung auf dem Fikirtepe bei Kadıkoy (Istanbul)”, Istanbuler Mitteilungen, 1969/1970, nr. 19-20, pp. 1-19; M. Özdoğan and O. Algan, “Antik Theodosius Yenikapı Limanı’nın Jeoarkeolojik Önemi”, Gün Işığında İstanbul’un 8000 Yılı, pp. 242-245.
38 Ekrem Hakkı Ayverdi, Fatih Devri Sonlarında İstanbul Mahalleleri, Şehrin İskân ve Nüfusu, Ankara: Vakıflar Umum Müdürlüğü, 1958, p. 19.
39 Mehmet Doğru, Eminönü Camileri, Istanbul: Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı Eminönü Şubesi, 1987, p. 88.
40 Çetin Girgin, “Sirkeci’de Sürdürülen Kazı Çalışmalarından Elde Edilen Sonuçlar”, Gün Işığında İstanbul’un 8000 Yılı, 2007, pp. 103-104.
41 Şeniz Atik, “Marmaray İstasyon Projesi Kapsamında Üsküdar Meydan Kazısı I-BS/56-65 Plan Kareleri”, Gün Işığında İstanbul’un 8000 Yılı, , p. 58.
42 H. Yılmaz et. al, “İstanbul/Üsküdar İskeletlerine İlişkin Paleoantropolojik Ön Rapor”, Gün Işığında İstanbul’un 8000 Yılı, pp. 64-67.
43 Şeniz Atik, “Marmaray İstasyon Projesi Kapsamında Üsküdar Meydan Kazısı”, Gün Işığında İstanbul’un 8000 Yılı, p. 58.