The Ziyaret Tepe Mound in Diyarbakır's Bismil district continues to reveal remnants of the Assyrian civilization dating back to the 9th century B.C, with the ongoing excavation as part of an joint project by Marmara University and Cambridge University
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University faculty member Professor Kemalettin Köroğlu and the director of the
Ziyaret Tepe (Tushhan) excavation, Cambridge University faculty member, Dr.
John MacGinnis, revealed what they've discovered so far at the Ziyaret Tepe
Including information, findings and visuals from the excavations in 2014, the
book "Ziyaret Tepe (Tusshan) - Discovering the Anatolian Borders of the
Assyrian Empire," was discussed at a panel at Soho House in the Beyoğlu
district of Istanbul recently.
The book aims to provide more information on the cultural heritage of the
Assyrian Empire, to raise consciousness, shine a light on the global history
and relay the cultural richness of the region to future generations. Providing
more information on the book, Prof. Köroğlu noted that Tusshan is located on
the Tepe Village close to the Bismil district of Diyarbakır and is on the south
bank of the Dicle River, and is the largest mound among four other mounds in the
region. "An international team consisting of members from America, Europe
and Turkey performed great work here. There were people from their fields of
expertise in the team," Köroğlu said.
further said that despite archaeological excavations, their findings also
demonstrated the eating habits of the people and animals in the region.
The most crucial area is the garrison town, the city center belonging to the
Assyrian period. There are large palaces and mansions on the top level of the
city center while there are administrative buildings and warehouses in the
lower city. The city is also surrounded by city walls. "The Assyrian King
arrived and visited the city in 882 B.C. He announced the establishment of
these garrisons with epigraphs he built. We also understand from a tablet that
Tusshan was demolished in 611 B.C. This is a state that was alive between 882
and 611 B.C. The reason for th
e establishment of this state was to benefit from the touristic potential of
the region and to support the capital region with this potential," Köroğlu
He further noted that the Assyrians had transferred all their outputs in arts,
architecture and daily life to the region.
They have established a small model of their capital at Tusshan. Therefore, the
antiques, grave gifts and small objects used in daily life resemble the
examples from Assyrian capitals. "We got the chance to discover and
understand a state center for the first time here. Buildings with large
backyards with floors covered with mosaics were unearthed. We found rich gifts
buried under the floors of graves. In addition, we also found the first hints
about the tradition of cremation in Assyrians," Köroğlu further noted.
In the excavations, the graves belonging to senior executives and palace
workers buried in the backyards of Assyrian palaces were discovered. Plus,
certain hints to before and after the settlement of the Assyrian empire were
There are traces of both settled cultures and also nomadic societies at
Köroğlu also highlighted the difficulties of preserving architectural artifacts
made of clay.
He said that especially under Turkey's conditions, clay artifacts that are
preserved and can be displayed are rare. The best method for preserving a clay
artifact is to document it, present it to the academic world and then after
taking a few protective measures, bury it under soil and preserve it there,
according to Köroğlu. "This is exactly what we did at Tusshan. We would
like to turn Diyarbakır into an outdoor museum. However, we need a much higher
budget, arrangements and efforts to sustain it in order to achieve that,"
After stating how glad he was to be in Turkey and especially in Istanbul, Dr.
John MacGinnis said an excavation was carried on an area of 25 hectares and
once they began the excavation works, he realized how important this was.
They unrevealed early structures such as the governor's palace, some residences
of the elite and barracks, and they've tracked the entire history of the Empire
from its emergence in the 9th century B.C. until its collapse. "The most
outstanding finding was a clay tablet with a cuneiform that indicates that a
language existed 2500 years ago which we didn't know before. The tablet
contained names of 60 women who were brought to Tusshan on the table we found
at the palace," MacGinnis said.