Turkey, skeleton of 1st Neolithic farmer in Anatolia

Archaeologists discover the skeleton of Anatolia’s first farmer

The discovery, made by a neighbour in the garden of his house, will shed new light on people who lived 8,500 years ago during the Neolithic age.

A group of archaeologists conducting excavations in the province of Bilecik, northeast Turkey, claims to have found the skeleton of the first farmer in western Anatolia, estimated to be 8,500 years old and whose remains were found by a neighbour in the garden of his home in the Bahçelievler district, on the outskirts of the provincial capital.

The archaeological excavations are being carried out by a team from the Şeyh Edebali University of Bilecik in collaboration with the city council, and for now they have managed to unearth the skeleton of a young man – between 14 and 15 years old – who lived here 8,500 years ago, making it the oldest Neolithic human adolescent ever found in western Anatolia, according to the team leader, Professor Erkan Fidan.

“Human bones are the most reliable material for establishing dates, because their life expectancy is much shorter than other materials, such as trees. I estimate that the layer in which we found the skeleton during excavation dates back to approximately 8,500 ago years,” said Fidan, underlining his happiness because of the finding.

“This skeleton is not only the oldest Neolithic adolescent in Bilecik, also in western Anatolia. We can also say that it is the first farmer discovered so far in western Anatolia,” the expert said, adding that other skeletal remains have been found both from humans as well as animals in the area and that this could yield new discoveries, once they are analysed by a laboratory.

Archaeologists try to find out what happened to humans that live here

“Thanks to DNA analysis, we will be able to discover what they ate and what they drank, what they did throughout their lives, the diseases they suffered, and the causes of their deaths. This information that we will obtain about our ancestors will shed light on us, about the people we live today,” said the professor.

“The smallest information we can obtain about the lifestyle and health of our ancestors will be enough to understand the value of the excavation, taking into account that it is important information that will affect our current lives,” insisted Fidan, who estimates that the unearthed settlement at Bilecik was founded about 9,000 years ago.

Apart from the importance of discovering the skeleton of the first Western Anatolian farmer, archaeologists are now trying to find out what happened to the people who lived here. “We still don’t know when the settlement was abandoned. However, life in this place spanned a period of 1,000 years, and I believe that 8,000 years ago – around 6,000 BC – the Neolithic settlement came to an end. To understand how the settlement has come to an end, we will conduct further analysis before the end of the year,” concluded Fidan.