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Buried with turtles: the symbolic role of the Euphrates soft-shelled turtle (Rafetus euphraticus) in Mesopotamia

  • Rémi Berthon (a1) (a2), Yılmaz S. Erdal (a3), Marjan Mashkour (a1) and Gülriz Kozbe (a4)
Abstract
Abstract

Excavations at Kavuşan Höyük (south-eastern Turkey) have revealed evidence of the use of turtles, tortoises and terrapins in post-Assyrian funerary practices. Of particular significance are the remains of the Euphrates soft-shelled turtle (Rafetus euphraticus), distinguished from other species of turtle by their quantity and treatment in the burial pit under investigation here. The unique finds from Kavuşan Höyük, coupled with archaeological and textual records, underline the economic and symbolic significance of these animals for communities in prehistoric and early historical Mesopotamia.

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