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Ancient sarcophagus seized in northern Turkey

An illegal excavation in Turkey's northern Anatolian province of Corum’s Sungurlu district has unearthed a 1,900-year-old sarcophagus.

Ancient sarcophagus seized in northern Turkey
The sarcophagus, which dates back t 1,900 years ago, has been unearthed during an
 illegal excavation in Corum’s Sungurlu district. The tomb cover were broken by smugglers
 who wanted to enter it [Credit: Hurriyet]
The sarcophagus has been removed from the excavation area by archaeologists and moved into the Corum Museum for display.

The tumulus in Turgutlu village, where the sarcophagus was found, was illegally excavated in 2012 before the region was registered as a first-degree archaeological area, said Gov. Sabri Baskoy, adding that some public officials were involved in the illegal excavations.

A new illegal excavation was also carried out on the tumulus in March this year, the governor said, adding that they were informed that the tomb was unearthed during this excavation.

“The tomb adds a value to Corum’s underground richness. It is the largest tomb found in the province. We hope that it will contribute to the promotion of Corum,” he said.

A female body

Examinations showed that the sarcophagus dates from 96-98 A.D., Baskoy said, adding that those involved in the illegal excavations were being investigated.

Baskoy said they were certain the sarcophagus was 1,900 years old. “We believe that there was a female body inside the tomb. It was sent to Ankara for tests. The gender and age of the body will be identified,” he said.

Speaking about the features of the sarcophagus, Corum Museum Director Onder Ipek said: “The tomb cover is 240 centimeters. It is 120 centimeters in width and 58 centimeter in height. The two long sides of the tomb cover were broken by smugglers who wanted to enter it. One of the acroteria was also broken. Some pieces of this acroterion were found by experts and attached to their place by the conservator of the museum. Eros, the god of love in Greek mythology, is embroidered on the surface of the tomb. The head of Eros received damage because of smugglers.”

In addition to the pieces of human skeleton, a silver coin, a gold earring and a ring were also found inside the sarcophagus, Ipek said.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [May 16, 2014]

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