JULIOPOLIS (lulıopolıs) Research
The biological (genetic) structures, population structures, health conditions, and nutritional status of the past communities can be enlightened by examining the human skeletal remains obtained from archaeological settlements using different methods. Also, such information can be evaluated together with archaeological information, and various anthropological and archaeological problems can be solved with an interdisciplinary approach. The current project aims to examine human skeletal remains recovered from the ancient city of Juliopolis in Çayırhan town of Nallıhan district in Ankara, Central Anatolia, with an interdisciplinary approach.
The city of Juliopolis (Iuliopolis), located on the eastern border of the Bithynia region in terms of historical geography, was flooded by the Sarıyar Dam Lake, constructed about 65 years ago. Thanks to the salvage excavations carried out in the necropolis of the city, more than 700 graves have been unearthed with the excavations by the archaeologists of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. Studies on the ancient city of Juliopolis (Iuliopolis) were first carried out as a salvage excavation by the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in 1991. In the first studies, tombs carved into the rock and various types of grave goods in these tombs were found, and during these studies, the area was identified as a necropolis (cemetery area of the ancient city) of the Roman period. After a long time, excavations were started again in 2009 under the Presidency of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations to prevent recent destructions and to produce scientific information about the ancient city. During the studies, traces of both the ancient period and current destructions (robberies and illicit diggings) were detected.
We have limited information on the ancient city of Juliopolis from historical sources and recent studies, and so far, no official excavations have taken place except for museum salvage excavations. Hence, the location of the ancient city could not be found until the necropolis excavations. The necropolis is in Çayırhan Town of Nallıhan District, approximately 122 km northwest of Ankara. Written sources and some other indicators show that the ancient city of Juliopolis is located near the ancient Skopas River (Aladağ Stream) around the Sarılar Village. However, researchers think that most of the remains of the city were flooded under the dam waters after the impoundment of the Sarıyar Dam Lake, which was completed in the 1950s (Figures 1 and 2). Research on the archaeological findings and coins obtained from the necropolis tombs made it certain that this burial site is the necropolis of the ancient city of Juliopolis.
Figure 1 and 2. Geographical position and possible location of the ancient city of Juliopolis
The location of the excavations includes the Eastern necropolis where the largest number of graves were unearthed in the east of the Aladag Stream, the Western necropolis in the western part of the Stream, and the Defense Wall extending in the north-south direction in the western part of the Eastern necropolis (Figure 3)
Figure 3. West And Eastern Necropolis of Juliopolis
Excavations to date unearthed several types of tombs in the necropolis of Juliopolis. We can classify these types as chamber tombs, cist graves, simple earth graves, sarcophagus grave, stone-plated cist graves, and Laginos graves. Considering their numbers, we see that there are significantly more cist graves created by carving the bedrock up to the rock structure of the cemetery area. Numerically, these are followed by simple earth tombs and chamber tombs. Current studies have demonstrated that the use of the necropolis started in the Hellenistic period, continued extensively in the Roman period and the Byzantine period. It was observed that usually more than one individual was buried in the graves, and some graves were used through more than one period.
Graves in the Juliopolis necropolis also contained numerous grave goods that are very rich in content. Among the grave goods found are various types of jewelry made of different raw materials, metal vessels, strigilem, mirrors, medical tools, oil scent bottles, coins, glass finds, oil lamps, ceramic pots, and bone finds (Figures 4 and 5).
Figures 4 and 5. Some artifacts found in the necropolis of Juliopolis.
Human remains found in Juliopolis can provide a direct and good sample for ancient studies. Examination of human skeletal remains unearthed from the necropolis has revealed many notable findings in a short time. Besides, ongoing investigations are expected to initiate many discoveries in this field. Despite several archaeological excavations made and many findings found within the boundaries of today's Ankara, the lifestyles, population structures (paleodemographic structures) and health conditions (paleopathological status) of the people living in the region could not be studied due to the absence of a different burial site covering the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods. Therefore, we should note that the bioarchaeological study of the necropolis is of critical importance. Also, we can easily say that the planned investigation of the remains with a versatile and multidisciplinary approach and using advanced technology will form an important basis for future scientific research and pave the way for experts working in this field. Continuing the bioarchaeological investigations within the scope of the project, Juliopolis 3D face modeling workshops were held twice in 2018 and 2019 in cooperation with Koç University VEKAM, one of the project partners, to support the endeavors of the experts in the field in terms of the use of technological equipment and methods.
These workshops mainly focused on computer-aided facial reconstruction applications and ensured the participation of graduate students and academicians working in various disciplines in our country's universities. It is meaningful that some of the participants who received their certificates continued to be interested in the subject and started to use such applications in their own studies, showing that the workshops met their objective.
Our communication with Fabio Cavalli, Ph.D., one of the researchers who took part in our facial reconstruction workshops as an instructor, has also led to a new study. Considering the modernity of Juliopolis and the antic Aquileia settlement in Trieste, Italy, the two ancient cities were defined as ‘sister ancient cities’, and another groundbreaking parallel study was initiated in terms of the Roman period by examining the archaeological and anthropological findings of the two settlements together. In this context, a joint project has been developed with the National Archaeological Museum of Aquileia and the Aquileia Foundation. The reconstruction of the faces of people who lived in those sister cities in this project paved the way for the exhibitions in Trieste as well as Istanbul, Izmir, and Ankara, especially the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. The products of the studies regarding this subject will appear in the events within the scope of the centennial of the establishment of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in 2021. We should also add that the archaeological artifacts unearthed from the necropolis of Juliopolis have a separate section in the Museum. The studies of the Juliopolis Necropolis Digital Archive have been started as of 2020 with the contributions of the Anatolian Civilizations Museum, Koç University VEKAM, and Hacettepe University to reveal the original characteristics of the Ancient City as it deserves. Just like our local partner Nallıhan Municipality, who built the excavation house and handed it over to the Museum, Ankara Metropolitan Municipality showed a high interest in our work and became one of our project partners.
We aim to bring together a vast number of finds and discoveries as well as several kinds of relevant digital applications and information, and to share all this knowledge with the society and scientists who conduct academic research through a digital archive and database. With its holistic and interdisciplinary structure, the project will make significant contributions to both Ankara's rich cultural history and scientific studies in the fields.
Dr. Ali Metin Buyukkarakaya
Hacettepe University, Department of Anthropology
“Excavations of the Ancient City of Juliopolis and the Investigation of Human Skeletal Remains" Project Coordinator