Recent excavations on Çayönü Hill in the Ergani district of southeastern Diyarbakır have uncovered five tombs dating back to the early Bronze Age. With these new discoveries, the total number of graves in the area has risen to 10, providing valuable insights into the region’s ancient history.
The head of excavation, Professor Aslı Erim Özdoğan, emphasized the historical importance of the site, stating that Çayönü Hill and the nearby Hilar Caves are recognized as pivotal points in the history of civilization. The excavations, which began in 1964, have revealed remains and artifacts ranging from 7500 BCE to 5500 BCE.
The excavations have shed light on the region’s role as a cradle for early agricultural activities, including the cultivation of crops like wheat, chickpeas, and lentils. The domestication of animals such as sheep and goats and the transition from hunting to settled life are also evident in the findings, providing significant evidence of the beginnings of agricultural practices and the Neolithic period.
This year’s excavations have yielded a particularly significant discovery: five more graves from the early Bronze Age, characterized by skeletons in fetal positions. The investigation aims to establish clearer links between the non-pottery Neolithic period and the pottery Neolithic period.
The extent of the cemetery area and its expansion over time has been a focus of the research, with the graves discovered this year. Notably, a complete female skeleton was found, raising questions about the gender composition of the burials.
In addition to the graves, the archaeological endeavors have unveiled structures that provide a deeper understanding of the area’s history, including the remains of buildings from the pre-pottery Neolithic period. The research has also clarified the relationship between a sediment-filled stream that once flowed across the plain and the layer that now covers it.
Ergani District Governor and Deputy Mayor Ahmet Karaaslan expressed his enthusiasm for the ongoing excavations, emphasizing the presence of burial sites marked by necklaces and items resembling fetuses. He noted that Çayönü is a place of profound historical significance and anticipates that it will become a popular tourist destination, offering visitors a glimpse into the region’s ancient heritage.