Articles | Volume 16, issue 1
31 Dec 1965
 | 31 Dec 1965

The presence of supposedly primitive human tools along the upper reaches of the Kizil Irmak in Anatolia

D. P. Erdbrink and H. R. Van Heekeren

Abstract. The first indications of the existence of fluviatile terraces in E. Anatolia were reported recently by Izbirak (1962) and Ketin (1962). The present authors have made a rapid and superficial exploration of a terrace system containing a maximum of five to seven different levels along the upper reaches of the great Kizil Irmak or Red River between Sivas and Kayseri in E. Anatolia. This region partly overlaps, but lies mostly to the North of the region described by Izbirak.

It appears that the terrace levels are fairly constant along the mentioned stretch of the river. They disappear suddenly farther downstream. With Izbirak the present authors are of opinion that the formation of these terraces is probably due to tectonic activities in the first place and only secondarily to climatic influences. One terrace level, the third (counting from the lowest level) consistently contained a very limited number of what the authors suppose to be primitive artefacts, among which there are some pebble-tools. These are described in the paper; they may indicate the presence of hominids in Turkey during the earliest part of the Pleistocene. In one case a fossil molar of a Hipparion was found in this third level in situ, partly covered by the same petrified red loam which also enveloped some of the supposed artefacts. No exact dating of the terraces is as yet possible, but it may be inferred that the oldest and highest ones are Tertiary, the one containing the artefacts perhaps lowermost Pleistocene, and the lowest ones young Pleistocene or even Holocene. Some time ago Izbirak (1962) published a geomorphological study of part of the region along the upper reaches of the Kizil Irmak in Turkey. Without being aware of the results of this study, the present authors made some observations in almost the same area. Although of a different nature these coincide very well with Izbirak's conclusions. Thanks to a grant-in-aid assigned to one of us by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research at New York, the voyage, and the collecting of material in Turkey, was made possible. We would like to thank the authorities of this Foundation for the rendering of this financial aid; the authorities of the Netherlands Embassy at Ankara, and Professor A. A. Cense at Istanbul, should receive our thanks and gratitude for the aid and advice given us during our stay The region visited by us was part of the upper valley of the Kizil Irmak, the Halys river of ancient times, lying between the cities of Sivas and Kayseri. Our observations began immediately downstream from Sivas at both sides of the river over a continuous stretch of approximately 20 kilometres. Lower downstream a number of traverses at right angles to the river valley's axis was made.