Opening of mass grave fails to satisfy historian (Turkey)

Historians in the News

Yusuf Halacoglu of the Turkish Historical Society (TTK) and historian David Gaunt of Sodertorns University College in Sweden in a collaborative effort opened a mass grave on Monday in the southeastern town of Nusaybin, which Armenian historians say may contain the remains of victims of the alleged 1915 genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

Nevertheless the endeavor didn't seem to be satisfactory for Gaunt, who refused to collect earth or bone samples from the grave. Speaking to reporters following an examination of the site, Halacoglu said Gaunt told him that the grave they had exposed was not the one he had planned to analyze, causing Gaunt to refuse to collect any samples. Halacoglu, who argues that the remains are from Roman times, however, said he had collected samples, which would be scientifically analyzed.

The mass grave in Nusaybin was discovered by villagers in August 2006. The area where the mass grave lies is on an ancient line of defense works and underground storage rooms dating back to Roman times.

Gaunt expressed disappointment at a joint press conference following the grave opening. "My impression is that this grave is one in which no scientific research can be carried out. The grave has undergone numerous changes so it is not recognizable. Consequently, I have to say that this grave is not suitable for scientific research. As a result, we can say nothing but that this grave is not the one we intended to research." However, Gaunt added that this could be a start for joint research with Halacoglu in the future.
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