Tales from the trenches at Gallipoli



Ancient Roman roof tiles, pots, coins, as well as Anzac soldiers’ buttons, food tin remains and bullets are just some of the items archaeologists have recently uncovered at Gallipoli.

Roman roof tile taken from wikipedia

Roman pot taken from ancient touch

Roman coin taken from

Anzac button taken from medals gone missing

Food tin taken from

WW1 bullets taken from

For the first time archaeology is being used to study Gallipoli. A team of Australian, New Zealand and Turkish researchers are involved. Work began in 2010 and ends in 2015.


The team has recorded several kilometres of trenches and found nearly a thousand items using GPS units and ground -surveying technology, University of Melbourne archaeologist Antonio Sagona has said.

Professor Sagona said, just in 2012 alone 480 items had been found, consisting of items ranging from Roman pots to Anzac food tins and shrapnel. Trenches, dugouts and tunnels have also been found.


According to him, archaeology reveals a new side to Gallipoli which is important to our history as a nation. It gives us physical remains that we can see and touch.

Professor Sagona said some of the trenches at Lone Pine rest on top of an ancient Roman settlement.  Past Melbourne University Classics student Sarah Midford said the Anzacs had found Roman items consisting of coins and pottery when digging the trenches.

The Anzac letters reveal that the troops complained about the monotony of eating tinned food. Sagona said all the food- tin remains in the trenches are from the Anzac side, not the Turkish side. The Turks cooked their food and as a result there are no processed foods on their side.


“Archaeology can provide information on day-to-day activities in the trenches, dugouts and tunnels, which can be compared to the documentary evidence.

 “We can’t recreate horror like the sound of gunfire and the shouting, but the remnant material culture is vivid all the same.”

 Sarah Midford said, “Gallipoli isn’t just 1915, there are so many layers.” It’s an ancient site that has witnessed conflict for thousands of years.

Midford linked the Anzac campaign with the Trojan War. Troy is close to Gallipoli. She said, the Anzacs had been defeated amid the same landscape as the Trojans.


She said,” Gallipoli is a site of cultural significance for the whole Western world because of the Trojan War.”

Alexander, Julius and Augustus Caesar visited Troy to pay their respects.  Now Australians in their thousands come to Gallipoli to do the same.


Both Midford and Sagona hope to see the archaeology of Gallipoli become part of the yearly commemorations and be part of Australian history education.

Both think it will add another layer to our history. They also hope future tourists will walk the battlefield and see the archaeology, not just the war history.

Extra Info;

Professor Antonio Sagona : Classics and Archaeology at Melbourne University,  a.sagona@unimelb.edu.au.   

Sarah Midford, Research Associate at Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Latrobe University: s.midford@latrobe.edu.

For more information on the archaeology of Gallipoli visit the following sites;

http://www.archaeology.org/issues/92-1305/letter-from/765-anzac-gallipoli-wwi-battlefield-allied-german-ottoman  article on Gallipoli fieldwork in Archaeology magazine

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/largest-archaeological-survey-of-gallipoli-uncovers-dozens-of-artefacts/story-e6freon6-1226036825585 news article on Gallipoli archaeology

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