Istanbul’s geography has long been a cause for worry among its visitors, and few trips to the city have ever been more unsettling than the ones in which water has been found in the soil. In 2021, archeologists unearthed the remains of what was believed to be the remains of an ancient civilization, including houses, copper pots, and coins. Excavations near the Mecidiyekoy neighborhood, in the capital of Istanbul, uncovered what appeared to be the remnants of an Egyptian palace. But further excavations in the region have led to the discovery that underneath the palace lay a watery grave, the remains of a drowned child.
While this incident may seem like a case of strange coincidence, Istanbul’s watery grave is not the first time its waters have been the source of archaeological interest. In fact, the problem is a lot worse than it seems. Turkey, along with a number of other countries throughout the Middle East, has a poor record when it comes to maintaining archeological sites. They have been known to fill in holes, flatten layers of soil, and sometimes – without warning – to leave behind large amounts of water. In some cases, entire dig sites can be uncovered beneath the surface, washing clean and dry under the sea.
So why does this happen? Archeologists say that there are two main reasons. First, there are simply no laws whatsoever that prevent such behavior. Virtually all of the country is covered by municipal water pipes, which carry water to nearly every district of the city. Second, the laws themselves are rarely enforceable. That means anyone can fill a watery grave just by filling up a shallow fountain in the Garden of Eden.
The first reaction might be to condemn the archeologist in question. After all, he or she did uncover what looked to be an enormously important tomb. If the site had previously been polluted by human activity, it would surely have turned out differently. So the archeologist should be commended for finding such a site filled with garbage. To be sure, it’s a bit awkward to think of treasure in such a strange setting.
A second reaction might be to point out that the region around the Garden of Eden is actually quite suitable for archeology. The land slopes down toward the sea and provides ideal conditions for searching for shipwrecks and ruins from the Phoenician era. If the archeologist could just find his way around the land, he might discover a watery grave!
Both reactions miss the point. To understand how a watery grave becomes a tourist attraction, you first have to understand how archeology can be good for tourism. There are several key reasons why. They include:
- * tourists get thrilled and excited. When archeologists locate a site with a treasure, they not only get thrilled and excited, but they also get publicity. In some cases, this publicity leads to the site being declared a World Heritage Site or a National Park.
- * archeologists get information about past civilizations. A watery grave might just be the start of an archaeological tour in Turkey. Many archeologists work on excavation tours looking for shipwrecks and settlements from the Phoenicians, a people who were prominent in the Mediterranean world in the 8th century B.C., as well as the Romans, Egyptians, and others. These sites could help tell us about different periods in history.
- * A tourist can also use archeology as a way to find out about the culture of the people living at the site. Excavations can tell about the types of pottery used, as well as tell about how the artifacts were buried. This helps the archeologist learn about the social and religious life of the people at the site.
- * archeologists can use artifacts to place on interpretive displays. These can be used on any of a number of Turkish theme park attractions. For example, when a watery grave becomes a tourist attraction, the archeologist can put on an interpretive display to show what it symbolizes. This allows the visitor to see the deceased, their home, and their life in Turkey. Many people also choose to buy items from these displays, to remember their travels and to hold onto them in their homes.
- These are just a few of the many reasons why archeology is an attraction to tourists in Turkey. The Turkey vacation can be a great adventure for everyone. Just because you go on a dig does not mean that you will have to come back every year! Discover the reasons that a watery grave becomes a favorite archeological destination.