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Boncuklu Tarla - Mardin Province - Turkiye

Boncuklu Tarla, TurkiyeBoncuklu Tarla is an archaeological site in southeastern Anatolia at Ilısu Mahallesi, Dargeçit, Mardin Province in Turkiye. It is the remains of a settlement occupied from the Late Epipalaeolithic to Pre-Pottery Neolithic B periods and is believed to be 11,300 years old.

It was discovered in 2008 during an archaeological survey in advance of the construction of the Ilısu Dam and has been excavated by a team from Mardin Museum since 2012.

The discovery of a large communal building with stone pillars was reported at Boncuklu Tarla in 2019, prompting comparisons to Göbekli Tepe.

It is an early example of rectangular plan architecture. The excavators also claimed to have found a sewer system, which if confirmed would be the oldest known one in the world.

Boncuklu Tarla was discovered in the province of Mardin in 2008. The discovery was made during a prospecting dig near Ilisu dam.

The site underwent its first excavation in 2012 under the auspices of the Mardin Museum then followed by a second excavation by Dr. Ergül Kodaş of the University of Mardin Artuklu in 2017.

The director of the Mardin Museum added that the foundations of today's civilizations were laid in the Neolithic process, socio-economic structuring was formed, dominant social classes began to form - great and radical changes took place in human life.

Boncuklu Tarla, TurkiyeThe temple found at Boncuklu Tarla is from the same period as Göbeklitepe. Ibrahim Ozcosar, a Turkish university rector has made statements claiming Boncuklu Tarla is older than Göbeklitepe in 2019.

More than 15 restorers and archaeologists have assisted in the excavation of the area with the aid of 50 workers. The excavations continued in 2017 by initiating excavation on the eastern sector of Boncuklu Tarla.

In 2019 this excavation revealed this section of the site was occupied by three different phases during the tenth millennium.

The excavation uncovered four types of building structures, a sewage system and over two dozen artifacts.

Among the artifacts found at Boncuklu Tarla were thousands of beads for ornaments, obsidian or flint blades and tools used to cut stone. Tools discovered also included blades, gimlets, arrowheads and microliths.

Boncuklu Tarla is located in Eastern Turkey within the Mardin Province. The site sits approximately 125 kilometers east of the city of Mardin within the district of Dargecit.

Boncuklu Tarla is located at 37.529444°N 41.832361°E and within 1.5km of the Tigris River.

Boncuklu Tarla, TurkiyeDue to the site’s proximity to the river, it is highly likely Boncuklu Tarla underwent many phases of flooding as many riverine communities were.

This supports that there were phases in the construction of the site, which was recognised by the site's archaeologists. Some parts of Boncuklu Tarla were constructed on the bedrock of the location.

This area is known to have had many established civilisations such as the Sumerian, Akkadians, Babylonians, Hittities, Urartians, Romans, Abbasids, Seljuks and Ottomans.

Analysis was done on-site as well as C14 calibration and laboratory studies to determine that at least six levels of occupation occurred at Boncuklu Tarla.

These six levels include the Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, old Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, the transition from Pre-Pottery Neolithic B to Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and the later Epipa-leolithic.

The architecture of Boncuklu Tarla has four forms of spaces within the village. The first is the communal building followed by domestic housing, storage spaces and non-constructed communal spaces.

Boncuklu Tarla, TurkiyeThe communal building, sometimes referred to as the temple, is located in the centre amongst houses varying in shape and size.

These homes are either circular or sub rectangular in shape while the communal building is the only structure that is rectangular.

This construction came about during the tenth millennium BCE when rectangular buildings were first revealed.

The rectangular plan was slow to be adopted systematically during this time. Therefore, the adoption of this structure shape may have started with the construction of the Boncuklu Tarla communal.

The head of the excavation team has stated that there may have been buildings up to eight stories high, reaching a height of seven meters.

The communal building of Boncuklu Tarla has five architecturally insignificant buttresses on the eastern and western walls.

The eastern wall has two well preserved buttresses while the western has three that are damaged.

Boncuklu Tarla, TurkiyeThe western and eastern buttresses do not perfectly align nor are they positioned in line with the four pillars located in the centre of the building.

These types of buttresses are well established at Çayönü, Göbekli Tepe, and Karahan Tepe and yet Boncuklu Tarla's differ in that they do not align with the communal buildings symmetrical pillars.

Unlike Çayönü the buttresses at Boncuklu Tarla's purpose was not structural but in fact only provided spatial differentiation to the interior.

All the buttress's measure at approximately 50 centimeters in length and 30 centimeters in depth. The north wall on the north-easter corner also contains a niche measuring at 40 x 40 centimeters.

Surrounding the Communal building at Boncuklu Tarla there were three other sub rectangular buildings that were uncovered.

They were named Strata II, III and VII and all measured between 8–10 meters in length and 4–5 meters in width.

Stratum II has entirely independent walls while Stratum II and VII both share common walls with the communal building to the west and east, respectively.

Boncuklu Tarla, TurkiyeThe excavation has uncovered that the three structures also have buttresses at the front of their entrances, near the angle of the wall course.

Compacted and smoothed over earth makes up the floor of the three buildings.

Two circular buildings have been found at Boncuklu Tarla. These structures also share the compacted floor and buttress features that the sub rectangular buildings have, however, some parts also contain pebbled flooring.

Both the circular structures have extensions off their entrances, one rectangular and the other circular.

The building located to the North is named Stratum IV and the other, situated to the west, is named Stratum VI.

Mardin Artuklu University Archeology Department Professor Ergül Kodaş, the scientific advisor to the Boncuklu Tarla (bead field) excavations, said that works have been headed by Kocaeli University Head of Archaeology Department Professor Ayşe Tuba Ökse and carried out painstakingly.

The temple from the same period of Göbeklitepe was unearthed in the field, where a Neolithic period structure with rubble stones and hardened clay floors was also unearthed.

Boncuklu Tarla, Turkiye"Excavations are underway, but we have clearly revealed the steles. One of the four steles we uncovered was broken, but the other three were still preserved to this day as they were in antiquity," Kodaş said.

Kodaş explained that the temple with a stone wall was built with small stones and mud mortar and that they had not reached the floor of the building yet. They aim to reach the floor in about a month.

Stating that no figurative inscription was found in four steles, Kodaş said that the 80-square-meter temple of the Neolithic period has features that are similar to those of Göbeklitepe.

Enez Özmen, who lives in Dargeçit district, said that they were happy to find a temple. "We were excited to hear that the temple was found. We expect this place to attract the same attention like at Göbeklitepe. Özmen said that they expect many tourists to come to the district thanks to the temple.

Houses with quarry stone walls and stiffened clay floors from the Aceramic Neolithic Age, which date back to 10,000 B.C. and 7,000 B.C., were found during the excavations at the site in Dargeçit.

Along with thousands of beads used in ornaments, obsidian or flint blades, waste from ornament making and stone chipping tools were found at the site.

The tools included blades, gimlets, arrowheads and microliths.

Boncuklu Tarla, TurkiyeThe archaeological excavation of Boncuklu Tarla represents a new opportunity to examine the complete chronology of the preceramic Neolithic in the Upper Tigris Valley thanks to the presence of archaeological strata dating from the Epipaleolithic to the end of the late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB).

In the eastern section of Boncuklu Tarla the remains of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) came to light in 2017 and 2019, allowing them to revisit the architecture both communal and domestic, as well as spatial organization in a concrete chronological context during the tenth millennium.

In this region, we identified a communal building in the midst of surrounding houses.

They also believe that a Neolithic Sewer System has been uncovered in the site in southeastern Turkiye.

The Anadolu Agency reports that an excavation team under the direction of archaeologist Ergül Kodaş of Artuklu University has found evidence of an 11,800-year-old sewer system at the ancient settlement of Boncuklu Tarla East in southeastern Turkey.

"We were only able to unearth a certain portion of the sewer system, and confirmed it was in a public use area." Kodas said.

The team has also uncovered traces of buildings thought to have stood about 23 feet tall.

Boncuklu Tarla, TurkiyeAn 11,300-year-old building was also found at the site recently. To read about the sudden destruction of a Bronze Age settlement in southeastern Turkey, reference "The Wrath of the Hittites."

A Bronze Age settlement at the site of Zincirli in southeastern Turkey was suddenly and catastrophically destroyed more than 3,500 years ago, archaeologists have discovered.

A joint team from the Universities of Chicago and Tubingen uncovered two buildings that burned down, forcing their inhabitants to flee and leave behind their personal belongings.

However, the layer of charred debris that covered the site preserved the buildings’ contents, including an array of bowls, drinking cups, cooking pots, storage jars, and other domestic objects.

"It is not that unusual for ancient settlements to have been burned and abandoned," says project codirector Virginia Herrmann of the University of Tubingen, "but we were definitely surprised to find such good preservation."

The project leaders believe that they know who was responsible for the swath of destruction: Hattusili I, one of the first kings of the Hittite Empire, which was expanding its territory from central Anatolia during the second millennium B.C. likely sacked the city.

Boncuklu Tarla, Turkiye"The ability to connect this destruction to a known king provides a more precise historical context for our archaeological evidence."

It was determined that the dead at Boncuklu Tarla were buried under the floors of the houses, in the womb with their knees bent to the abdomen, which reflects that the structures were built according to a certain order, stone or bone tools and weapons, ornaments were the first settled village examples.

In addition, jewelry consisting of many beads and chipped stone tools were found in the tombs. Mardin Museum Director, Nihat Erdogan said:

"Since this period, people have been using jewelry to signify their faith, fertility, magic, totem, amulet and good luck for thousands of years."

"While natural materials such as colored stones, teeth, horns, bones and nails of animals and sea shells were shaped by rubbing and scraping, they were made into jewelry by drilling and arraying."

"Triangle-shaped pendants unearthed in the Beadlu field, which are sometimes believed to have a protective power from evil and diseases and sometimes used to bring good luck, show that the forms and purpose of use of amulets still used today have not changed for 10,000 years."

"In addition to the thousands of beads produced for jewelry at the Boncuklu Tarla settlement in the region, leftover production residues consisting of many obsidian and flint blades, cores and flakes show that chipped stone tools were also produced in the settlement. These include arrowheads, cutting tools, drills and microliths."

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