Byzantine tombs unearthed beneath Istanbul’s Pera

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Eight Byzantine-era tombs have been unearthed during the restoration of a building bearing the name famous Italian national hero Giuseppe Garibaldi on İstiklal Avenue in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district. It was the first time such tombs were discovered in the area, according to officials.

Byzantine tombs unearthed beneath Istanbul’s Pera
Eight tombs found beneath Pera, Beyoğlu date back to the 
fourth-fifth century [Credit: Hurriyet]

Garibaldi established a foundation for Italian workers in the building in 1863. The building, also known as the Societa Operaia Building, was first restored in 1910 and had been undergoing a complete restoration process again for the last year.

After a skull was unearthed during the restoration, archaeologists from the Istanbul Archaeology Museums began excavations and unearthed eight tombs dating back to the fourth or fifth century. The archaeologists estimate there may be similar tombs beneath other neighboring buildings. Along with the tombs, a large number of potteries, chandeliers and plates from the Ottoman and Byzantine eras were also found. Carbon testing would be used to determine the age of the skeletons in the tombs.

Sedat Bornovalı, the head of the restoration team, said they had first unearthed a skull found under a large piece of tile. “We started archaeological excavations with the Istanbul Archaeology Museums and recently we reached the eighth tomb. We think that this area was an important part of a necropolis.

We plan to display these findings at a culture center that will be built after the restoration,” he said.

It is estimated that previous construction work in the area had also unearthed tombs, but these tombs may have been destroyed so as not to cause a delay or halt construction.

Author: Ömer Erbil | Source: Hurriyet Daily News [April 15, 2015]

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