Four hundred ancient rock-cut chamber tombs that contained paintings and treasures were discovered by archaeologists in Turkey. The chamber tombs, which date back about 1,800 years, are part of one of the world’s biggest rock-cut chamber tomb necropolises (it was built into the slopes of a canyon). They were located in the ancient city of Blaundos (it can also be spelled Blaundus) which is approximately 110 miles (177 kilometers) east of the Aegean Sea.
Many of the sarcophagi-filled tombs contain more than one deceased person which seems to indicate that several generations of the same family were buried together and that “...the tombs were reopened for each deceased family member, and a burial ceremony was held and closed again,” Birol Can, who is an archaeologist at Uşak University in Turkey and head of the Blaundos Excavation Project, explained to Live Science in an email.
While grave robbers already took some of the treasures throughout the years, archaeologists did find several important items such as coins and pieces of pottery dating back to the Roman Period. “In addition, the technique of the wall paintings covering the walls, vaults and ceilings of the tombs and the style of the vegetal and figurative scenes depicted on them show Roman characteristics,” Can noted.
The paintings contained geometric, floral, and figurative depictions. “Vines, flowers of various colors, wreaths, garlands, geometric panels are the most frequently used motifs,” Can explained, adding, “In addition to these, mythological figures — such as Hermes (Mercury), Eros (Cupid) [and] Medusa — and animals such as birds and dogs are included in the wide panels.”
Other items found in the chambers included diadems, bracelets, rings, mirrors, hairpins, belts, medical instruments, oil lamps, and drinking cups. While the items give a clue as to the sex, time of burial, occupation, and habits of the individuals, experts are still planning on conducting DNA and chemical analysis on the remains in order to find out more information about the deceased.
Besides the rock-cut chamber tombs, archaeologists have identified two temples, a theater, a gymnasium, a basilica, city walls and a gate, a public bath, aqueducts, and a shrine that was dedicated to an ancient Roman or Greek hero (this is called a heroon). “Apart from these, we know that there are many religious, public and civil structures still under the ground,” Can revealed.
Pictures of some of the rock chamber tombs and paintings can be seen here.