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Archaeologists excavating in Çorum, the capital of the ancient Hittite Empire in northern Turkey, unearthed an Iron Age saw dating back 2,250 years. Source: Anadolu Agency

Iron Age Saw Unearthed in Ancient City Hattusa Resembles Modern Tools

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Hattusa, the historic city, is an ancient site that keeps on producing wonderful finds. After the piece of ivory decoration with a sphinx found last month, archaeologists conducting digs in Hattusa, now in its 117th year of excavations, uncovered an Iron Age saw believed to be approximately 2,250 years old! Measuring 20 centimeters (0.656 ft) in length and thought to have been utilized during the Galatian period, this saw was unearthed on the northwest slope of the lower town area known as the Great Fortress in Hattusa.

Excavating at Hattusa: An Unseen Iron Age Saw

Excavations in the Hittite capital began in 1906 in the Bosphorus district of Corum. Since 2006, they have been under the tutelage of the German Archaeological Institute, currently headed by Excavation Director Dr. Andreas Schachner, reports Anadolu Agency.

Schachner stated:

“This saw was found in a building from the Galatian period within the excavation area. It’s particularly intriguing to find a saw from this period. We conducted some research, and there aren’t many comparable examples. We managed to identify a few examples from later Roman periods, but a saw dating back to at least the 3rd century BC remains unseen, at least in Anatolia.”

Excavation Director Dr. Andreas Schachner examines the artifact, particularly the teeth of the saw, concluding that it closely resembles tools utilized in modern or recent times. (Anadolu Agency)   Principio del formulario

Excavation Director Dr. Andreas Schachner examines the artifact, particularly the teeth of the saw, concluding that it closely resembles tools utilized in modern or recent times. (Anadolu Agency)   Principio del formulario

He mentioned that only the iron part of the saw remained, and explained that as far as they understand from the holes on the two sides of the saw, they think there is a semicircular handle on it. Thus, the carpenter of the period may have used the saw by holding it from the wood and moving it.

Situated at the intersection of Central Anatolia and the Black Sea Region, the archaeology team has observed the significance of woodworking throughout various historical periods, but they find no evidence of trees cut by the Hittite saw, which has been preserved from ancient woodwork to the present day.

Schachner further remarked, “We have noticed similarities between this saw and those used thousands of years ago. Upon detailed examination, when we look at the teeth of the saw, we can say it closely resembles tools and equipment used up to modern or recent times. The iron might be a bit thicker, but aside from that, it’s similar in style to contemporary ones. This indicates that humans don’t readily change a tool that works efficiently.”

History of the Saw

The saw is an incredibly useful tool that has evolved significantly over thousands of years and has allowed advances in various forms of construction, woodworking, and metalworking. It is also claimed that without the saw, we would not have the wheel.

The first saws were made of hard materials, such as flint, obsidian and shark’s teeth, that allowed a serrated edge to be used to cut softer materials.

The earliest known metal saws date back to the ancient Egyptians, around 3000-4000 BC. These were primitive tools made from copper and consisted of a toothed blade attached to a handle. The teeth were set in such a way to facilitate cutting material when moved in a back-and-forth motion.

With the advent of the Bronze Age (around 3200 BC) and later the Iron Age (starting around 1200 BC), saws evolved significantly. Bronze and iron allowed for stronger and more durable blades. This period also saw the development of different types of saws for various purposes, like larger two-person saws for timber and smaller, finer-toothed saws for intricate work in woodworking and carpentry.

So the example found in Hattusa is a very early example, but certainly not the oldest saw that existed.

Bronze saw with worn away serrations from Akrotiri (Thira) on modern Santorini, Greece. Late Cycladic period dated c. 17th century BC. (Akerbeltz/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Bronze saw with worn away serrations from Akrotiri (Thira) on modern Santorini, Greece. Late Cycladic period dated c. 17th century BC. (Akerbeltz/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Hattusa: Peppered with Artifacts and History

In 1986, Hattusa received the designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient city served as the capital of the Hittite Empire, a prominent force in the Near East during the late Bronze Age, spanning from approximately 1600 to 1180 BC.

Excavations have revealed numerous ancient artifacts, including a tablet containing text in Kalašma a newly discovered and uninterpretted language, reports Arkeonews. In fact, numerous cuneiform tablets have been found in Hattusa, providing invaluable information about the Hittite and other languages, administrative practices, religious rituals, and historical events.

Hattusa, capital of the Hittite Empire near modern Boğazkale, Turkey. (robnaw/Adobe Stock)

Functioning as an open-air museum, Hattusa stands out for its urban planning, preservation of various structures—including temples, royal palaces, and fortifications—the intricate adornment of the Lions' Gate and the Royal Gate, and the collection of rock art found at Yazilikaya. Unearthed structures and city layouts have provided insights into the urban planning and architectural prowess of the Hittite civilization, including beautiful temples, palaces, residential areas, and defensive walls.

Professor Dr. Schachner concluded, highlighting the importance of the object, "This work is a unique work for Boğazköy. This is the first time we have encountered such an artifact decorated with such a dense and beautifully crafted scene. Extensive excavations were carried out in Boğazköy, but we have not seen such detailed work.

Top image: Archaeologists excavating in Çorum, the capital of the ancient Hittite Empire in northern Turkey, unearthed an Iron Age saw dating back 2,250 years. Source: Anadolu Agency

By Sahir Pandey

References

Bartek, J. 2023. Rare 2,500-Year-Old Saw Discovered At The Ancient Hittite City Hattusa. Available at: https://www.ancientpages.com/2023/11/27/rare-2500-year-old-saw-hattusa/.

Ceylan, K. 2023. The 2,250-year-old saw found in the ancient city of Hattusa is similar to those found today. Available at: https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/kultur/hattusa-antik-kentinde-bulunan-2-bin-250-yillik-testere-gunumuzdekilerle-benzerlik-tasiyor/3061346.

Kayra, O. 2023. A rare 2500-year-old saw, the first of its kind, discovered in Anatolia. Available at: https://arkeonews.net/a-rare-2500-year-old-saw-the-first-of-its-kind-discovered-in-anatolia/.

 
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Sahir

I am a graduate of History from the University of Delhi, and a graduate of Law, from Jindal University, Sonepat. During my study of history, I developed a great interest in post-colonial studies, with a focus on Latin America. I... Read More

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