A new discovery of Neanderthal settlements in Turkey: Sürmecik open-air campsite in Western Anatolia

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Western Anatolia is the poorest region in terms of Turkey’s Palaeolithic finds. In the past years, only a few Palaeolithic artefacts were known from the surface in the provinces of İzmir, Manisa, Kütahya and Afyonkarahisar in western Anatolia. After the fossil Homo erectus skull fragment was found in the travertine deposits in Kocabaş (Denizli) in 2002, the importance of the region more increased. After this important discovery, Dr. Kadriye Özçelik started a Palaeolithic survey in Denizli and found a large number of chipped stone tools from the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic periods. Nevertheless, the last important Palaeolithic discovery in the region was made in Sürmecik (Banaz-Uşak) in 2015. This is an open-air campsite belonging to the Middle Palaeolithic period. Here is also a mining area where a mining operation is conducted. The chipped stone artefacts of the Sürmecik Palaeolithic open-air campsite come from a clay layer between hematite and limonite deposits under a travertine layer of about 4.5–5 meters in thickness. Faunal remains represent mostly by equids species. All stages of Mousterian culture are clearly visible in this open-air campsite. Su¨rmecik is the richest middle Palaeolithic open-air campsite in Turkey. The 83,002 lithic pieces were collected in the excavations carried out in 2016 and 2017. It is thought that the lithic assemblage will exceed 100,000 with the ongoing studies. The group of bifacial leaf points in this collection is seen in Turkey for the first time. Four master thesis studies started on the lithic material of Sürmecik. It is planned to take some samples for dating analysis along with ongoing studies.


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