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Figurines found by Polish archaeologists in Turkey. Image credit Jason Quinlan
 
Science & Scholarship in Poland have reported on the discovery by Polish archaeologists of two unique eight thousand year-old figurines in Turkey –
 
The discovery was made in one of the largest urban centres of the first farmers and one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world – Çatalhöyük, located in the southern part of the Anatolian Plateau in central Turkey. The project leader is Prof. Ian Hodder of Stanford University in the US, but a team of Polish scientists has been involved in the project for several years.
 
Çatalhöyük was inhabited continuously for over one thousand years between the years 7100 and 6000 BC. According to the researchers during its heyday the densely built-up settlement had by approx. 5000 residents. The site became famous thanks to the murals, which decorated the walls of houses. They depicted as human and animal figures and geometric motifs. In 2012 Çatalhöyük was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
 
Full article here.
 
 
 
The Beşparmak Dağları, known as “Latmos” in antiquity, is one of the most fascinating and archaeologically richest regions in western Turkey. As early as prehistoric times the Latmos was already revered as a sacred mountain in Anatolia. Upon its peak the Old Anatolian weather god together with a local mountain deity were worshipped. The mountain peak was the centre of weather and fertility rituals. Despite socio-cultural changes that transformed religious concepts, the cultic tradition there continued into Ottoman times.
 
The beauty of the rock landscape and the cultural monuments that it inspired are now greatly endangered by increased stone quarrying in the area. For several decades feldspar, a rock-forming mineral used for the production of ceramics, glass and sanitary installations world-wide, has been quarried in the Beşparmak. This exploitation is causing the drastic metamorphosis of the Latmos from a sacred mountain into a source for bathroom installations! Tax exemptions and lax mining regulations, especially in the past few years, have enabled quarrying feldspar to expand dramatically, so that sites are threatened of the most important group of archaeological monuments on the Latmos: the prehistoric rock paintings.
 
Discovered in 1994 by the Berlin archaeologist Dr. Anneliese Peschlow-Bindokat, these rock paintings, dating to the 6th and 5th millennia B.C., belong to the recent extraordinary discoveries in prehistoric archaeology in Anatolia. The repertory of images focuses on family scenes and reflects the changes that occurred in society with the onset of sedentism. The themes and message conveyed by this imagery are unparalleled in the Mediterranean sphere and the Near East.
 
Please consider signing the Save Mount Latmos petition here.
   

The ancient site of Göbekli Tepe in south-eastern Turkey
Video the Global Heritage Fund

The Global Heritage Fund reports that –

Göbekli Tepe is an Early Neolithic site of enormous significance, featuring 5-meter-high monolithic pillars carved in relief and dating to 10,000 or more years ago. Erected within circular “temple” structures, the latest excavations have revealed that these structures likely covered the entire hillside and could number as many as 20 in total. Göbekli Tepe has been interpreted as the oldest human-made place of worship yet discovered. Until excavations began, a complex on this scale was not thought possible for a community so ancient. The massive sequence of stratification layers suggests several millennia of activity, perhaps reaching back to the Mesolithic. The oldest occupation layer (stratum III) contains monolithic pillars linked by coarsely built walls to form circular or oval structures. So far, four such buildings, with diameters between 10 and 30m have been uncovered. Geophysical surveys indicate the existence of 16 additional structures.

However, the site and its extant remains are threatened by looting, exposure and insufficient management of the site and its resources. GHF’s goals at Göbekli Tepe are to support the preparation of a comprehensive Site Management and Conservation Plan, construction of a shelter over the exposed archaeological features, training local community members in guiding and conservation and aiding Turkish authorities in securing World Heritage Site inscription.

More here and here (PDF).

Mausoleum of Zeynel Bey, son of Sultan Uzun Hasan (Hasan the Tall) of the Aq Qoyunlu dynasty, or White Sheep Turkomans (1378–1508)
Source Wikimedia Commons. Image credit Htkava

The Wikimedia entry for Hasankeyf reads in part –

With its history that spans nine civilizations, the archaeological and religious significance of Hasankeyf is considerable. Some of the city’s historical treasures will be inundated if construction of the Ilısu Dam is completed. These include the ornate mosques, Islamic tombs and cave churches.

According to the Bugday Association, based in Turkey, Ms. Huriye Küpeli, the prefect of Hasankeyf, the Swiss ambassador to Turkey and representatives of the Swiss led consortium of contractors for the dam project have suggested what they believe to be a suitable nearby spot for moving the historical heritage of Hasankeyf, an operation for which the Turkish Ministry of Culture pledges to provide 30 million euros.

The threat of the Ilisu Dam project prompted the World Monuments Fund to list the city on its 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world. It is hoped that this listing will create more awareness of the project and prompt the Ilisu Consortium to develop alternate plans that are more sympathetic to this site of exceptional historical and cultural significance.

In December 2008 export credit insurers in Austria, Germany and Switzerland announced suspending their support for the project amid concern about its environmental and cultural impact and gave the Turkish government 180 days to meet standards set by the World Bank. These standards were 153 requirements on environmental protection, resettlement of villages, protection of cultural heritage, and resource management with neighbouring states. As Turkey did not fulfil any of them, the three ECAs indicated in a joint press release issued on the 7th of July 2009 that they withdrew from the project. Shortly after, in another joint press release issued on the same day, the three banks (Société Générale, UniCredit and DekaBank) financing the Ilısu Dam project also stated – in line with the decision of the ECAs – that the export credit granted by the three banks for the construction of the Ilısu Dam would no longer be available.

Meanwhile, writing for National Geographic last Friday, Julia Harte in Turkey reports that –

From the Neolithic caves riddling its cliffs to the honey-colored, 15th-century minarets looming over its streets, Hasankeyf, Turkey, is a living museum of epic proportion.

But today’s reigning power, the Turkish Republic, has a unique plan for Hasankeyf: submerging the ancient town beneath 200 feet (60 meters) of water. That will be the result of a hydroelectric dam now under construction in Ilısu village, 60 miles (97 kilometers) downstream from Hasankeyf. In February 2013, Turkey’s highest administrative court ordered construction to halt until an environmental impact assessment had been carried out.

Only one-fifth of the archeological sites around Hasankeyf have been unearthed so far, and local archeologists predict that 85 percent of the remainder will be flooded before they can finish excavating.

Video and full National Geographic article here. Sign the petition to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to urge them to take action against the construction of the Ilisu Dam here.

   

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