Boncuklu Tarla

Coordinates: 37°31′46″N 41°49′56″E / 37.529444°N 41.832361°E / 37.529444; 41.832361
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Boncuklu Tarla
Boncuklu Tarla is located in Turkey
Boncuklu Tarla
Shown within Turkey
Boncuklu Tarla is located in Near East
Boncuklu Tarla
Boncuklu Tarla (Near East)
LocationIlısu, Dargeçit, Mardin Province, Turkey
RegionSoutheastern Anatolia
Coordinates37°31′46″N 41°49′56″E / 37.529444°N 41.832361°E / 37.529444; 41.832361
Site notes
Excavation dates2012–ongoing

Boncuklu Tarla is an archaeological site in the Southeastern Anatolia of Turkey. It is the remains of a settlement occupied from the Late Epipalaeolithic to Pre-Pottery Neolithic B periods, starting over 12,000 years ago. It was discovered in 2008 during an archaeological survey in advance of the construction of the Ilısu Dam and has been excavated by a team from Mardin Museum since 2012.[1]

The discovery of a large communal building with stone pillars was reported at Boncuklu Tarla in 2019, prompting comparisons to Göbekli Tepe.[2][3] It is an early example of rectangular plan architecture.[4] The excavators also claimed to have found a sewer system, which if confirmed would be the oldest known in the world.[5][6]


Boncuklu Tarla was discovered in the district of Dargeçit in Mardin Province in 2008.[4][5] The discovery was made during a prospecting dig near Ilisu dam.[4] The site underwent its first excavation in 2012 under the auspices of the Mardin Museum which was followed by a second excavation by Dr. Ergül Kodaş of the University of Mardin Artuklu in 2017 [4][2] The temple found at Boncuklu Tarla is from the same period as Göbekli Tepe.[5][2] Ibrahim Ozcosar, a Turkish university rector, has made statements claiming Boncuklu Tarla is older than Göbekli Tepe.[7]


The 2012 excavation of Boncuklu Tarla had a scope of “studies for the Documentation and Rescue of Cultural Assets Remaining in the Interaction Area of the Ilısu Dam and HES Project” around the rural neighbourhood of Ilisu.[5][2] More than 15 restorers and archaeologists have assisted in the excavation of the area with the aid of 50 workers.[5] The excavations were carried over into 2017 by initiating an excavation in the eastern sector of Boncuklu Tarla.[4] In 2019 this excavation revealed that this section of the site was occupied over three different phases during the tenth millennium BC.[4] The excavation uncovered four types of building structures, a sewage system and over two dozen artifacts.[5][4] Among the artifacts found at Boncuklu Tarla were thousands of beads for ornaments, obsidian or flint blades and tools used to cut stone.[2] Tools discovered also included blades, gimlets, arrowheads and microliths.[2]

Geography and Environment[edit]

Boncuklu Tarla is located in Mardin Province in Eastern Turkey.[5] The site sits approximately 125 km east of the city of Mardin within the district of Dargecit.[4] Boncuklu Tarla is located at 37.529444°N 41.832361°E and within 1.5 km of the Tigris River. Due to the site’s proximity to the river, it is highly likely Boncuklu Tarla underwent many phases of flooding as with many other riverine communities.[8] This supports the theory that there were phases in the construction of the site, which was recognised by the site’s archaeologists. Some parts of Boncuklu Tarla were constructed on the bedrock of the location.[4]


This area is known to have had many established civilisations such as the Sumerian, Akkadians, Babylonians, Hittites, Urartians, Armenians, Romans, Abbasids, Seljuks and Ottomans.[7][2][5] Analysis was done onsite as well as C14 calibration and laboratory studies to determine that at least six levels of occupation occurred at Boncuklu Tarla. These six levels, extending backwards in time, include the Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, old Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, the transition from Pre-Pottery Neolithic B to Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and the later Epipaleolithic.[4]


Boncuklu Tarla displays four different forms of communal space usage within the village. These usages range from communal building to domestic housing, storage spaces and unconstructed or open communal spaces. The communal building, sometimes referred to as the temple, is located in the centre amongst houses varying in shape and size.[4] These homes are either circular or partially rectangular in shape while the communal building is the only structure that is rectangular.[4] This construction originates from the tenth millennium BC during which time the rectangular buildings were first revealed.[4] The rectangular plan was slow to be adopted systematically during this time. Therefore the adoption of this designed shape buildings up to eight stories high, reaching a height of seven meters,[5] might have begun with the construction of the communal building of Boncuklu Tarla.[4] The head of the excavation team has speculated that buildings up to eight stories high and reaching a height of seven metres could have been possible.[5]

The communal building of Boncuklu Tarla has five structurally insignificant buttresses on the eastern and western walls. The eastern wall has two well-preserved buttresses while the western has three that are damaged. The western and eastern buttresses do not perfectly align and neither are they positioned in line with the four pillars located in the centre of the building.[4] The existence of this type of buttress has been well characterised at other sites such as Çayönü, Göbekli Tepe, and Karahan Tepe,[9][10] but Boncuklu Tarla’s differ in that they do not align with the communal building's symmetrical pillars. Unlike Çayönü the purpose of the buttresses at Boncuklu Tarla was not structural but in fact only provided spatial differentiation to the interior.[4] All the buttresses have measurements of approximately 50 cm in length and 30 cm in depth. The north wall on the north-eastern corner also contains a niche measuring at 40 x 40 cm.[4]

Surrounding the Communal building at Boncuklu Tarla three other sub rectangular building were uncovered. They were named Strata II, III and VII and all measured between 8–10 metres in length and 4–5 metres in width.[4] Stratum III has entirely independent walls while Stratum II and VII both share common walls with the communal building to the west and east, respectively. The excavation has uncovered that the three structures also have buttresses at the front of their entrances, near the angle of the wall course. Beaten and smoothed over earth makes up the floor of the three buildings.[7][2][4]

Two circular buildings have been found at Boncuklu Tarla. These structures also share the beaten floor and buttress features that the sub rectangular buildings have; however, some parts also contain pebbled flooring.[7][2][4] Both the circular structures have extensions off their entrances, one rectangular and the other circular. The building located to the North is named Stratum IV and the one to the west Stratum VI.


  1. ^ Ergül, Kodaş (2019). "Un Nouveau Site du Néolithique Précéramique dans la Vallée du Haut Tigre: Résultats Préliminaires de Boncuklu Tarla" [A New Aceramic Neolithic Site in the Upper Tigris Valley: Preliminary results of Boncuklu Tarla] (PDF). Neo-Lithics (in French). Ex Oriente. 19: 3–15.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Ancient temple found in Mardin". Hürriyet Daily News. 2019-10-31.
  3. ^ "Mardin'de Göbeklitepe ile yaşıt bir yapı gün yüzüne çıkarıldı". T24 (in Turkish). 2019-11-01.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Kodaş, Ergül (May 2021). "Communal Architecture at Boncuklu Tarla, Mardin Province, Turkey". Near Eastern Archaeology. 82 (2): 159–165. doi:10.1086/714072. S2CID 234794509.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Sincar, Halil Ibrahim (7 November 2019). "Archaeologists unearth ancient settlement in SE Turkey". Anadolu Agency.
  6. ^ "Neolithic Sewer System Uncovered in Southeastern Turkey". Archaeology Magazine. Archaeological Institute of America. 2019-11-08.
  7. ^ a b c d Gunes, Muhammed (4 December 2019). "Ancient site older than Göbekli Tepe unearthed in Turkey". Anadolu Agency.
  8. ^ Dendrinos, Dimitrios (10 May 2021). "ON THE ARCHITECTURE OF BONCUKLU TARLA's TEMPLE".
  9. ^ Özdoğan, Mehmet; Başgelen, Nezih; Kuniholm, Peter (2011). "The Neolithic in Turkey". Istanbul: Archaeology & Art Publications.
  10. ^ Schmidt, Klaus; Wittwar, Mirko (2012). "Göbekli Tepe: a Stone Age sanctuary in South-Eastern Anatolia". ArchaeNova.