The Samsun Archaeological Museum

Hidden in Plain Sight. While driving around Samsun we saw a brown sign pointing to the Archaeology Museum, but we were not able to locate the building. We knew it was there because Mark Wilson mentions it in Biblical Turkey (340), as do some other guide books. I mentioned earlier that very few people in this region speak English. There was one girl at the hotel who could speak English. We met one young man in a local store who had been living in New York who spoke English, and a lady from the Netherlands. We always get by, and the locals are almost always helpful.

When we inquired about the Archaeology Museum we were always directed to the Gazi Museum. That is a museum devoted to the early history of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey. We enjoyed visiting that museum, but it still was not what we were looking for. After much effort, we finally found a policeman who pointed us in the right direction. Then, while we were standing on the street corner with an inquiring look, a Moslem lady asked if she could help us. She was from the Netherlands. She went in a store to inquire. They pointed us back to the Gazi Museum. When we indicated that was not the museum, we were finally pointed directly across the main street, beyond a little park, to the Archaeology Museum. By this time one of the local men indicated we should follow him. Success, at last.

The museum is small, but contains artifacts ranging from the Chalcolithic Period (as early as 4300 B.C.) to the Roman Period.

Excavation at Ikiztepe. Ikiztepe is a site located about 4 miles northwest of Bafra (see our discussion of the Halys River in yesterday’s post). In recent excavations, evidence of “cultures of the Chalcolithic Age, the Bronze Age and the Transition Age (Before Hittites) have been determined” (Museum brochure).

An article in Hurriyet Daily News says that discoveries at Ikiztepe range from the Chalcolithic Age to the Hellenistic period.

The most interesting findings unearthed during the excavations are skulls, which underwent surgical operation. In the graveyard on the highest hill in the ancient site, dating back to 2300-2100 BC, eight out of the 690 skeletons had skulls with traces of surgical operation. These skulls have archaeological importance since they are the only ones unearthed in Anatolia. They also show that people who lived there did not have the characteristics of Mediterranean people but of southern Russians and Bulgarians.

Read the full article here.

Ancient brain surgery that cut a hole in the skull to relieve pressure is referred to as trepanation. A few of the skulls found at Ikiztepe are displayed in the museum. They are said to belong to Bronze Age III. I think that would be in the neighborhood of 1600 B.C. Here are two of the photos I made that show the hole drilled in the skull.

Example of Trepanation, Bronze Age III, Ikiztepe. Samsun Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Example of Trepanation, Bronze Age III, Ikiztepe. Samsun Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The surgery in the case below required a much larger hole.

Example of Trepanation, Bronze Age III, Ikiztepe. Samsun Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Example of Trepanation, Bronze Age III, Ikiztepe. Samsun Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There is no indication whether the surgery was successful, or what happened to the surgeon if it failed.

Joe Zias, in an article in Mikhmanim (Spring 1999), says there have been 29 skulls showing trepanation (trephination) discovered in Israel. He says the survival rate based on “inflammatory or bone remodeling” indicate a 77 percent survival rate in these cases. You may read his entire article about this and other medical issues in ancient Israel here.

In a future post I plan to show you a few of the Roman period ruins, the time of Peter’s epistles (1 Peter 1:1).

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2 responses to “The Samsun Archaeological Museum

  1. That first picture reminded me of the hole they drilled in my husband’s (Don Sadler) head for the Palidotomy operation (deep brain stimulus) at Emory to relieve his Parkinson’s symtoms. It helped for a while.

  2. Pingback: Hidden treasure | Ferrell's Travel Blog

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