Ankara: Turkey plans to increase the number of archaeological excavations to 600 in 2021 as a gradual normalisation from the COVID-19 restrictions has begun, a local broadcaster said in a report.
The operations will be carried out to reveal the “traces of the past in Anatolia” with a budget of 64 million Turkish liras ($7 million), Xinhua news agency quoted the NTV broadcaster as saying in its report on Thursday citing the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
Preparations have been completed for 217 new excavations, with 31 of them run by foreign delegations, according to NTV.
The teams will not be very crowded and conduct the activities within the scope of the coronavirus-related measures, such as wearing masks and social distancing, NTV said.
Excavation houses, laboratories, working and living areas will also be disinfected at regular intervals. After more than two weeks of a full lockdown, Turkey launched a gradual normalisation on May 17 as the daily Covid-19 cases decreased below 7,000.
According to Arkeofili, an archaeology magazine, over 500 studies were carried out in 2020 despite challenging pandemic conditions.
One of the most prominent was the discovery of a basilica-plan church constructed in the 4th century B.C. in Derik district, Mardin province.
Additionally, a specific rectangular structure with a large and finely crafted marble floor and a mass grave inside was uncovered during the excavations at Haydarpasa Train Station in Istanbul’s side district of Kadikoy.
Numerous bones belonging to 38 people were also found in the grave. Arkeofili said there are also many single tombs near this early Byzantine structure.