News Column

Various historic assets found during construction of 3rd bridge hidden

May 29, 2014

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- Numerous historic artifacts uncovered during surface analyses conducted by archaeologists along the route where a third bridge over the Bosporus is being constructed were hidden from the Istanbul Archaeological Museums in order not to slow down construction, the Radikal daily claimed on Thursday.

According to the Radikal report, the IÇtas-Astaldi consortium, the company that is building the third bridge, prepared an environmental impact report (ÇED) on the construction of the third bridge in order to be able to receive financing from international corporations.

The ÇED was prepared primarily by AECOM, a US environmental consulting and architectural firm. However, the 13th section of the ÇED, which was devoted to archaeological assets found throughout the location where the road linking to the third bridge will be constructed, was prepared by REGIO Cultural Heritage Management Consultancy.

To prepare the 13th section of the report, archaeologists GÖkhan Mustafaoglu and Ugur Dag conducted a surface analysis of the 26.5-kilometer route over two days. In the concluding remarks of the 13th section of the report, the archaeologists stated: "Detailed field research should be conducted in the area under the supervision of regional protection boards after the whole location is deforested for construction. Considering the archaeological potential of the area, it is compulsory for experienced archaeologists to analyze and even conduct physical activities [archeological excavations] around the location."

The Radikal daily stated that various sarcophagi, remnants dating back to the Paleolithic period, ancient ceramics and coins and a Byzantine-period military outpost were uncovered by the archaeologists during the surface analyses of the area around the third bridge. It is compulsory for a construction company to immediately stop construction when it encounters any historical artifact and to inform the closest archeological museum.

However, the Istanbul Archaeological Museums were not informed about those discoveries by the company due to fears that the construction of the bridge would be slowed down due to archeological excavations, as was the case with the Marmaray project, which connects Europe and Asia via a railway tube under the Bosporus, in which many historic artifacts were discovered during its construction.

The completion of the Marmaray project was postponed for seven years due to excavations conducted by the Istanbul Archaeological Museums.

According to Radikal, IÇtas-Astaldi prefers to destroy the historical assets instead of trying to preserve them. In such a situation, the Istanbul Archaeological Museums have to use their authority and halt the construction.

The bridge, which will cost an estimated $6 billion and traverse the Bosporus on the northern end of the city, linking Beykoz with the district of Sariyer on the European side, has been the subject of controversy. Environmentalists and urban planners have argued it will adversely affect the environment and only exacerbate Istanbul's already dire traffic problem. Thousands of trees have already been cut down over the course of the construction.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CIHAN

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Source: Cihan News Agency (Turkey)

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