Bones unearthed in Marmaray excavations analysed

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Ancient bones and skulls unearthed during the Marmaray excavations in Istanbul have been examined and significant clues about the physical structures, eating habits and social life of people living in ancient times have been obtained.

Bones unearthed in Marmaray excavations analysed
Identification of the bones reveals the age, height, and sex of the people who lived in
the ancient period, says expert Mehmet Görgülü [Credit: AA]

Speaking about the issue, Yıldız Technical University Istanbul Historic Peninsula Application and Research Center (ISTYAM) Biological Material Research Commission President Mehmet Görgülü said that they focused on the millennia old skeletons unearthed in their observations.

“Identification [of the bones] reveals the age, height, and sex of the people who lived in that period. We can also make evaluations about these people’s diseases, diet methods as well as their work and lifestyles. The genetic identification process gives us sample from their DNA and we can reveal their genetic journey. If they had a genetic problem, we have the chance to reveal this diseases. Our country has these technologies. This year we will also find opportunity to publish the data we have obtained,” Görgülü said.

Nutritional style

He added that they had discovered that people living in Yenikapı had a good nutritional style. “We call these people the ‘Yenikapı society.’ They are people of harbors. Examinations on the skeletons that have been unearthed during excavations in various parts of Anatolia have revealed that they had serious problems of food. The Yenikapı society did not have problem of food. Their wisdom teeth are flawless. Today, the wisdom teeth are a real problem, too. But when we examined the jawbones found in the excavations, we saw that their teeth were very healthy. This shows us their proper eating styles. Our jaws have been shrinking because of changing eating styles through time and this is a problem for wisdom teeth; they can’t find a place in the mouth. I don’t know when but these wisdom teeth will have vanished one day,” he said.

Görgülü also said they had observed children’s skeletons and drawn some conclusions, noting that the belief that old people were much bigger than today had been disproved.

“We determined during our examinations on skeletons that these people were medium-sized. Women were about 1.58-1.59 and men were about 1.60-1.68 in height. We also found that children were dying in that time because there were too many children skeletons. Medical conditions, inflectional diseases, natural disasters and environmental factors caused the increase in the number of child deaths … We were able to obtain DNA from the bones. The mother ancestry of these people came from Asia Minor and Mesopotamia, but we cannot say anything about their father ancestry,” he said.

Görgülü also added that the National Geographic had been carrying out a project named “Genographic,” and they were now carrying out the Anatolian leg of the project.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [January 07, 2014]

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