Mustafa Kınalı

Human skeletons, which experts say could be more than 8,000 years old, were found in four prehistoric graves recently unearthed at the Marmaray tunnel excavation site in the Yenikapı district of Istanbul.
�These graves reveal Istanbul used to be home to some of the earliest types of settlements during the Stone Age when people migrated from Anatolia to the European continent,� said Mehmet Özdoğan, professor of prehistory at Istanbul University. �They also show that the Marmara Sea used to be a small and shallow water in ancient times.�
Özdoğan said the graves, two of which were smaller than the others, might date back to between 6,400 B.C. and 6,200 B.C. The human skeletons were the oldest skeletons unearthed so far during the Marmaray project, which will be the first underwater tube to connect Europe and Asia beneath the Bosporus. The approximately 150 skeletons found already date back to the Byzantium period. He said the site was plastered and the Stone Age skeletons have been moved to the Istanbul Archeology Museum.
�Particularly the excavations carried out in the Fikirtepe district have yielded fruitful results,� said Özdoğan.
Excavations on the area where tube station will be constructed are lingering due to the discovery of new relics one after the other. The excavations in Yenikapı started on a 58,000-square-meter area in 2004. Some archaeological excavations have been held on about 30,000 square meters so far. Other than skeletons, the digs have revealed 32 sunken ships dating back to the seventh and 11th centuries. The sunken ships have been conserved at the Istanbul University and the Underwater Research Institute in Bodrum.
The Marmaray excavations have also revealed remnants of some walls, which are thought to be the first city walls of Istanbul. Also, an ancient harbor has been unearthed together with some nine skulls. About 500 pieces taken from the relics unearthed during the Marmaray excavations were exhibited at the Istanbul Archeology Museum.