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New Gallipoli survey session

Ministry for Culture and Heritage historian Ian McGibbon returns to Turkey next month to take part in the third field session surveying the Anzac battlefield at Gallipoli.

This is a tri-nation project involving historians and archaeologists from Turkey, Australia and New Zealand that started in 2009 and will continue until the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign in 2015.

The survey is the outcome of an agreement between Turkey, Australia and New Zealand in 2005. It will provide detailed information about what remains of the 1915 battlefield.

The survey is confined to the so-called Anzac Area that was specified in the Treaty of Lausanne ending the war. This was the tiny enclave that mainly Australian and New Zealand troops seized and defended from April 25 until early August 1915. More than 2700 New Zealanders died during the campaign, which ended with evacuation in December.

Historian Ian McGibbon at an earlier Gallipoli survey.

“The highlight of our session last year was undoubtedly the discovery and recording of part of the terraces that Colonel Malone had built at the vital position at Quinn’s Post”, says Dr McGibbon.

. “We had been assured that they had long since disappeared. One of the first tasks undertaken this year will be to explore the surrounding area to see what else might have survived.”

The survey involves using modern archaeological techniques to record what remains of the original battlefield - trenches, tunnels, dugouts, tracks and relics. It does not include any digging, but this year a ground-penetrating radar will be used to detect tunnels.

 “The importance of this work is increased by the fact that the remnants of the trenches and other features are fast disappearing as a result of erosion and will be long gone in 50 years’ time”, Dr McGibbon says.

So far the survey has focused on the positions from Lone Pine to Quinn’s Post - an area where the modern day road runs through what was no man’s land in 1915.

The survey team has now recorded more than 4500m of trenches on both sides of the line, discovered numerous tunnels and located about 200 artefacts (now lodged in the military museum in Canakkale). This year the team will move further up the ridge to Pope’s Hill and the Nek.

Planning is under way for a major exhibition in 2015 bringing together maps, relics and information about the people who built the trenches.

New Zealand’s involvement in the project is being supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

Updated on 23rd July 2015