Istanbul’s Haydarpaşa dig reveals Hellenistic cremation tomb

Istanbul’s Haydarpaşa dig reveals Hellenistic cremation tomb

ISTANBUL (AA): The ongoing archaeological excavation at Istanbul’s iconic Haydarpaşa Train Station has revealed a brick tomb belonging to the Hellenistic era.

The excavations have been carried out in Haydarpaşa and its surroundings in the Kadıköy district by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism since 2018. Archaeologists, continuing their excavations in the area, unearthed a brick tomb from the Hellenistic period as the latest finding. What makes the find particularly interesting, according to Rahmi Asal, director of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, is that the tomb was used for cremation.

An aerial view from Haydarpaşa excavations, Kadıköy, Istanbul, April 9, 2022. (AA)
An aerial view from Haydarpaşa excavations, Kadıköy, Istanbul, April 9, 2022. (AA)

“This is a very significant discovery. It is the only thing from the Hellenistic period found here, apart from the Hellenistic platform previously dug up,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA).

“This is very valuable. It is one of the oldest finds in this area,” he added.

According to the preliminary analysis, the body was cremated inside the tomb, but the skeleton and other remains survived the blaze and have now been unearthed, Asal explained.

He said a terracotta goblet and a perfume bottle, both of them with visible marks of fire damage, were found with the skeletal remains.

Archaeologists work on the brick tomb in Haydarpaşa, Kadıköy, Istanbul, April 9, 2022. (AA)
Archaeologists work on the brick tomb in Haydarpaşa, Kadıköy, Istanbul, April 9, 2022. (AA)

“I have never seen this type of a cremation tomb from the Hellenistic period … Perhaps this will give us many more valuable insights,” he added.

Archeological excavations around the historical Haydarpaşa Train Station, located on the Asian side of Istanbul, have unearthed a wealth of historical ruins, all hinting at the rich past of the ancient city of Khalkedon (Kadıköy), also known as the “Land of the Blind.”

A close-up of the hands of archaeologists working on the brick tomb in Haydarpaşa, Kadıköy, Istanbul, April 9, 2022. (AA)
Archaeologists work on the brick tomb in Haydarpaşa, Kadıköy, Istanbul, April 9, 2022. (AA)

After the platforms were removed from the train station, a Hellenistic grave and multiple tombs, a casting workshop, an Ottoman fountain outside the platform area, a holy spring made in the Byzantine period and a shelter built during World War II were found.

The findings over the past years, which include historical structures from the Ottoman, Byzantine, Hellenistic and Classical eras, shed light on the deep roots of Turkey, a cradle of civilizations.

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