Discoveries and Excavations

From the day it was rebuilt as the capital of the Roman Empire in 4th century AD, known to be one of the most important cities of the Mediterranean, Istanbul managed to be the capital of three global empires and kept the title of being the most magnificent city in Turkey. It witnessed the unity of western and eastern civilizations, the conflict and cohabitation of different cultures. Istanbul, during its long history, since the city borders where determined by the Theodosius walls, became a cosmopolitan city having been spread across a huge area with fifteen million habitants. When the old city was becoming a modern metropolis, one of its biggest problems was transportation. Before the construction of the Marmaray and Metro Project’s stations in Üsküdar, Sirkeci, Sultanahmet and Yenikapı which were intended to be the solution to this problem, Directorates of Istanbul Archeology Museums started a detailed salvage excavation. For the first time in history, Marmaray Railroad Project which connects Europe and Asia with a railway line passing underneath the Bosphorus and Metro lines which would provide local transportation, the biggest transfer station project in the Yenikapı region, turned into the most comprehensive archaeological excavation in Istanbul’s history. In Yenikapı where a centric station was to be built, one of the biggest harbors known in the ancient world dating back to the Byzantine Era, the Theodosius Harbor was revealed.
The excavations took place on a 58.000 square meter area with approximately 12 meter deep filling and different stratigraphic layers from the Neolithic Age which the Marmara Sea was a lake, until the last period of the Ottoman Empire. The excavations confirmed that the harbor was established on a natural bay but filled up with the alluvium from the Lykos (Bayrampaşa) creek, making it situated 300m away from the coastline. Directorates of Istanbul Archeology Museums, who excavated with approximately 50 archaeologists and 600 workers, cooperated with many local-international universities and institutes, also received scientific aid in areas of ship and boat archeology, conservation, osteo-archaeology, archaeobotanic, geology, philology, dendrochronology, prehistory and anthropology. During the excavations that were continued in deep filling, thousands of organic-inorganic artifacts and architectural ruins were found. Amongst the group of findings there were 36 shipwrecks dating between 5th and 10th century which is the biggest collection of Early and Middle Byzantine Period shipwrecks. Another reason why the shipwrecks are important was their very well preserved state. Having Galea’s from the Byzantine Period amongst the findings is very valuable considering that it is the first archeological example of galeas being used in the navy.