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World’s Oldest Mosaic Uncovered in Central Turkey

World's Oldest Mosaic
Archaeologists unearth the world’s oldest mosaic. Video screenshot

The world’s oldest mosaic has recently been discovered in Yozgat in central Turkey. Archaeologists excavated the design in Yogat’s Sorgun district.

The mosaic measures 10 by 23 feet, is comprised of 3,147 stones, and is thought to be over 3,500 years old. Surface surveys have been conducted at the Usakli Mound where the mosaic was discovered in 2012.

Huseyin Ciftci, the provincial culture and tourism director for Yozgat said that the area is being explored by both the General Directorate for Cultural Heritage and Museum, Bozok University, and Italy’s Pisa University.

Ciftci said that “It has been determined through scientific studies that the mosaic found is the first of its kind in world history. The mold of the mosaic also supports this, as it is quite primitive. We plan to add value to the tourism sector through this discovery.”

Anacleto D’agostino, the head of the excavation team, said that the mosaic is the oldest of its kind and can be traced back to the 1500s BC: “We know there are similar mosaics in Greece, but we think that the mosaic here is older than that there.”

World’s oldest mosaic uncovered after Neolithic-era homes found in Catalhoyuk

The team in Yozgut made their discovery just a month after Neolithic-era homes were found during excavations carried out at Catalhoyuk, the renowned archaeological site located in what is today Turkey’s Çumra district in the province of Konya.

The site is near the ancient site of Iconium, or what was once the Greek city of Ikonion.

One of the most prominent cultural heritage sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Catalhoyuk, located in Asia Minor, is widely recognized as one of the oldest settlements of ancient humanity.

After its discovery by British archaeologist James Mellaart in the 1960s, Catalhoyuk was excavated by Ian Hodder, a Stanford University professor of archeology, beginning in 1993.

A recreation of the 7300 BC settlement of Çatalhöyük in present-day Turkey. Model in Weimar Museum in Thuringia. Credit: Wolfgang Sauber /CC BY-SA 4.0

The region, which has been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC—five thousand years before the present time—was occupied over time by the Hittites, Phrygians, Persians, Hellenes, and Romans.

Known as Ikonion and then Iconium during classical antiquity, it was conquered by the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century, lording their power over the Rûm (Byzantine Greek) inhabitants. They made what they called Konya the capital of their new “Sultanate of Rum.”

Now included on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites, in the beginning, it was a large Neolithic and Chalcolithic “proto-city” settlement in southern Anatolia, which flourished from approximately 7,100 BC to 5,700 BC.

Catalhoyuk overlooks the Konya Plain, southeast of the present-day city of Konya, with the Byzantine settlement of Ikonion located a few hundred meters to the east. The prehistoric mound settlements found there had been abandoned before the Bronze Age.


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