Prehistoric copper mining in Derekutuğun

Discovery of one of the oldest mines in Anatolia

Discovery of one of the oldest mines in Anatolia

In the framework of a DFG-funded research project, we have been carrying out mining archaeology excavations in the copper deposits of Derekutuğun, in the province of Çorum, since 2009. We have been able to establish that native copper was mined there, and probably traded over a wide area. The 14C analyses carried out so far provide evidence of mining for the first half of the 3rd millennium BC. The exploitation of the deposits in Derekutuğun may have begun much earlier – perhaps as early as the 5th millennium BC.

The miners of Derekutuğun extracted native copper, which is concentrated in the cracks and fissures of the Miocene conglomerate layers. According to the trace analysis and lead isotope testing, the deposit can readily be geochemically characterized. This deposit is therefore an important basis for discussions about provenance. The raw material was no doubt highly desired, given its high degree of purity. Based on this and also on the large quantities of copper extracted, we assume that Derekutuğun was one of the most important copper suppliers of prehistory, and possibly not just in Anatolia.
We are currently analysing the features and finds uncovered in the period from 2009 to 2011, and preparing them for publication. The analytical examinations of the material found will be conducted in the Materials Laboratory of the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum, the lead isotope testing in the Mineralogy Department of the University of Frankfurt, and the radiocarbon analyses at ETH Zürich. In the year to come we want to continue the excavations in Derekutuğun with a follow-up application for DFG funding.
Bis 2011 legten wir in vier Stollenkomplexen mehr als 40 m Strecken in vier Stockwerken frei. Dabei stellten wir fest, dass die Strecken durch Schächte und Gänge miteinander in Verbindung standen. Die Datierung der Stockwerke soll in der nächsten Phase geklärt werden: Wir gehen vorläufig davon aus, dass die oberen Stockwerke älter sind, da der Einstieg in das Bergwerk wahrscheinlich durch einen Schacht von oben erfolgte.
The small finds such as miner’s tools and torches made of resinous wood, and also the actual traces of mining, give a profound insight into the state of technology at the time. The pottery can be compared with finds from the neighbouring late Chalcolithic to early Bronze Age excavation sites in Alacahöyük, Alişar, Büyük Güllücek and Resuloğlu: these are hand-made pots – some of them fully preserved – which were tempered with chaff; in some cases the surfaces are smoothed and decorated by scoring.
According to the ample radiocarbon data, mining in Derekutuğun had definitely started by the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC. In the second excavation phase in the coming years we plan to investigate potentially even older mining activity (ca. 4500 BC).

For further information please see the annual report 2012 of the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum

Project manager

Prof. Dr. Ünsal Yalçın

Responsible body

Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum


Museum Çorum


2009 - 2013

2014 - 2018