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Anzac's Next Chapter

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BerichtGeplaatst: 19 Mei 2013 13:33    Onderwerp: Anzac's Next Chapter Reageer met quote

Anzac's Next Chapter
Archaeologists conduct the first-ever survey of the legendary WWI battlefield at Gallipoli

There are a few things you can’t understand about the World War I battlefield at Gallipoli until you stand on it. One is just how compact it is. The coast of the Aegean, where Allied forces from Australia and New Zealand landed on April 25, 1915, is less than a mile from the front lines. From a few places, it is possible to see almost the entire battlefield, where Ottomans fighting for the Central Powers held off the Allied attack for eight grueling months.

No-man’s-land, the strip of scarred earth between the opposing armies’ trenches, was as little as 30 feet wide in some places—close enough to hurl a stone at your enemy, smell his food cooking, or overhear a casual conversation. The battle was condensed and, during the prolonged stalemate, grew familiar, even intimate. It also took place in three dimensions. At Quinn’s Post, where no-man’s-land was at its narrowest, both sides clung to either edge of a single ridge, with steep drops behind them. It is deceptive, difficult terrain to read under the best of conditions; in the fog of war, with machine-gun fire, snipers, and a constant rain of shrapnel, it must have been utterly confounding.

Today, Second Ridge Road runs through this no-man’s-land, linking dozens of monuments and graveyards. Traces of many of the battle’s trenches, dugouts, and tunnels still lie deep in the thick roadside brush. For the past several years, an international team of archaeologists has clawed through this vegetation and scrambled up and down these slopes looking for patterns in the surviving earthworks, for fragments that have survived a century of scrap- and souvenir-collecting, and for a sense of what life in the trenches was like for tens of thousands of young men.

This section of the battlefield is commonly referred to among Westerners as Anzac (Arıburnu in Turkish), so named for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers (ANZACs) who fought here. Though the battle is of critical historical importance to three modern nations—Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand, all represented in the survey effort—it has never before been investigated with modern archaeological methods and techniques. “The actual site is something that is out there,” says Antonio Sagona, the project’s field director, of the University of Melbourne. “But it is not really understood.”

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