8,500-year-old footprints rewrite history

The discovery of more than 1,500 footprints and a number of graves dating back 8,500 years has shed new light on the Istanbul’s history, which was previously thought to have begun less than three millennia ago.

Until a few years ago, it was thought that the first human settlements in Istanbul dated back 2,700 years ago. However, the belief that the Greek colonists were the first was upturned when excavations for the Yenikapi subway station and the Marmaray undersea tunnel to cross the Bopshorus uncovered Neolithic settlements, with the oldest dating back to 6,700 BC.

The finds that were most exciting for archeologists and other people are certainly some 1,500 footprints and wooden tombs containing human skeletons.

These footprints and skeletons are believed to date to 6,000-6,500 B.C. and disprove the thesis that the first human settlements in İstanbul date back 2,700 years.

The arrangement of the footprints suggests that they were made during a ritual, and archeologists suggest that they might have been preserved thanks to an unusual natural event. The ritual might have been held in a riverbed, where the ground was muddy. Footprints formed in this way can dry out and solidify. Later, floods might have brought silt or alluvial deposits that covered and preserved the prints.

The sizes of footprints range between the European shoe sizes 35 and 42, and anthropologists believe these footprints might have been made by the human skeletons found at the same site. The excavations also found two well-preserved tombs that are believed to be from the same period.

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