National Geographic : 2015 Mar
62 national geographic • March 2015 women sat cross-legged in a barren room deco- rated with a dandelion in a Coke bottle. They rarely left the room. A fourth relative had not been propositioned—their senile grandmother. The old woman sat blinking, lost in dreams. She was hard to watch. She did not understand what she had lost. She had been born in Aleppo when Syria was a French mandate. Her granddaugh- ters were hoping for asylum in France. In the charred ruins of his ancient city under the Oylum mound, Engin has discovered two bodies. Both these victims of the city’s mysteri- ous destruction were female. We know next to nothing about them except perhaps the pathos of their social status. Their skeletons lay curled inside the kitchen of a grand mud-brick palace. Jason Ur, an archaeologist at Harvard, stud- ies the changing settlement patterns in ancient real name), a young Syrian woman stranded in the Turkish city of Şanlıurfa. “You get harassed constantly. Three men tried to pull me into a car. They grabbed my arm. I screamed. The people on the sidewalks did nothing. They did noth- ing. I want to leave this place. Can you help me? Where can I go?” In other Turkish cities teeming with refugees, anti-Syrian protests have erupted. The spark in one case was the knifing of a Turk by a Syrian neighbor. So corrosive are the sexual politics of refugees in Turkey that a false rumor attributed the killing to the Turk’s demand for sex with the Syrian’s wife in return for rent. “Four times—no, five,” a Syrian Kurdish wom- an named Rojin (also a pseudonym) told me, counting the number of marriage proposals she had received in Turkey over the past week. “Two,” her sister added. “ Three,” said a third sister. The Archaeologists delve into 9,000 years of upheaval at the site of Oylum Höyük in southeastern Turkey. This was once a region of fertile farms and important trade routes. “That’s why it’s been the scene of repeated conflict, occupation, and migration,” says dig director Atilla Engin.