CAMBRIDGE, MA.- Harvard University educated archaeologist and director of the Paleontological Research Corporation, Dr. Joel Klenck, surveyed and completed a preliminary analysis of two sites on Mount Ararat in Turkey discovered by a Kurdish guide, Ahmet Ertugrul. “The research areas are noteworthy”, states Klenck, “and comprise a large wood structure and cave with an archaeological assemblage that appears to be mostly from the Late Epipaleolithic Period.” These assemblages at other sites in the Near East have calibrated radiocarbon dates between 13,100 and 9,600 B.C.
Located at elevations above 4,200 meters on Mount Ararat and covered by layers of ice and stones, he states: “The wood structure shows various states of preservation and exhibits a wide array of plant materials including structures made of cypress and one room with a floor covered by chickpea seeds.” Klenck additionally notes, “I was most impressed by the artifactual assemblage, particularly four stone bowls, grinding or hammer stones, lithic cores and debitage.”
It also appears that the wood construction was visited in later periods. Ceramic bowls from Chalcolithic (5,800-3,000 B.C.) and Bronze Age (3,000-1,200 B.C.) periods were placed in or near the structure. He adds, “These artifacts most likely represent brief visits to the site during later periods since these bowls differ from the Epipaleolithic remains that comprise most of the assemblage.”
Klenck reports, “The surface scatter of the wood above the large structure is 121.1 meters in length and 23.8 meters in width. The construction is at least 5.2 meters deep and several measurements of the exterior walls exhibit angles moving inward toward the base of the edifice. Also, there are stair-like features that descend through the middle of the multi-storied structure and mortise-and-tenon construction.” He notes, “The structure is buried under tons of stones and ice and most of the edifice remains unexplored.”
He also notes a nearby cave that was covered by soil, ice and stones exhibits artifacts similar to those in the large wood structure. Klenck states the cave site possesses botanical remains, flax fibers and cord, pieces of fabric, bone tools, wood artifacts, and vessels made of an organic material. He adds, “In the cave, all the bowls are made of an organic material, perhaps animal stomachs, and the flaps are folded over wood or bone collars.”
“These sites are important to archaeologists and conservators,” states Klenck, “particularly with regard to the preservation of wood and plant materials and the examination of architectural features.” The discoveries on Mount Ararat coincide with academic discussions on the transition between the Pleistocene and Holocene epochs during the Younger Dryas stadial (10,900-9,500 B.C.). Klenck concludes: “The Ararat sites are very special because of their preservation and unique insight into the prehistoric past.”