Bones From an Ankara Opera House

I seem to have the ‘before’ and ‘after’ articles of this one, both from Hurriyet … first, the before … from August 30:

Human bones and a skull have been discovered under the stage at the historical Ankara Opera House, home of the Ankara State Opera and Ballet (ADOB), during renovations, daily Hürriyet reported yesterday.

Restoration work at the building has been halted to permit archaeologists a chance to examine the venue.

ADOB performs most of its pieces in the historical opera building, which was built in 1933 as an exhibition house and turned into an opera house in 1984. The State Theaters also use the building under the name Büyük Tiyatro (Great Theater). Since it is an old structure, the stage was insufficient for the needs of the opera and underwent a restoration process at the end of the last opera season.

During the renovations, a skull, arm, leg bones and pottery were discovered 25 to 30 meters under the stage. The directorate informed the Culture and Tourism Ministry about the findings and archaeologists from the Cultural Heritage and Museums General Directorate investigated the area.

ADOB director Aykut Çınar told Hürriyet that the stage elevators were being renovated. “There is a platform approximately 25 to 30 meters under the stage where the elevator hoist mechanism is. The mechanism was removed to be changed since these machines are very old. Excavation was necessary for their removal.”

After learning about the discovery, Çınar said he and ADOB General Director Regim Gökmen stopped the excavation, installed a safety line and requested an anthropologist and archaeologist from the ministry to inspect the findings.

Çınar said the team arrived at the building the same night and began examinations. “They determined that there were no more remains and gave us permission to continue excavations under the supervision of an archaeologist. The area was already very small and the excavations continued two more days.”

Noting that there were no further discoveries, he said, “There were only a few human bones like legs, arms and a skull, as well as very small pieces of pottery from old periods.”

He said a report would be prepared about the findings. “We have heard that the finds are most probably from the Roman period, but we are waiting for the official report. The excavation work is done and the archaeologist has left the site. We have delivered the bones to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations,” Çınar said.

According to some resources, the area was an Armenian cemetery during the Ottoman Empire, which might be the source of the remains.

The next day:

The mystery of the human bones that were discovered under the stage at the historical Ankara Opera House, home of the Ankara State Opera and Ballet (ADOB), during renovations, seems to have been solved.

As a result of the examinations by archaeologists and anthropologists from the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, the discovered skull belongs to a 25-30 year-old man, while the bones belong to a woman, whose age could not be determined, daily Hürriyet reported yesterday. The experts said the ceramic pieces, also found during the same renovations, dated back to the late Roman period. “The bones and the skull are most probably from this period too,” they said.

Meanhile, at a press conference held on Aug. 29, ADOB General Director Rengim Gökmen said the building had been undergoing a comprehensive restoration process for the first time, and that the discoveries would not prevent the continued restoration of the building. “The restoration will continue during the summer months for the next four to five years,” he said.

Gökmen said the new season would be opened with the newly-renovated stage. “The Phantom of the Opera has become real,” he joked.

I’m curious about the 25-30 metres below the stage thing … how deep is this compared to ground level? Seems awfully deep …