Cultural Postcards + [Turkey]

Near East: Treasure hunters destroy tomb in southern Turkey
A 2,000-year-old rock-cut tomb made in the southern Turkish province of Mersin’s Silifke district has been blown up with dynamite by treasure hunters.

Treasure hunters destroy tomb in southern Turkey
Treasure hunters severely damaged one of the most precious pieces in the
ancient city of Olba in Silifke [Credit: Hurriyet]

The assistant head of Olba archaeological excavations, Murat Özyıldırm said during a visit to the ancient city with his students on March 5, 2011, that he had found a dynamite mechanism in the tomb and saved the tomb by informing the gendarmerie. But treasure hunters finally succeeded in blowing up the tomb this time, after three years, on April 26. In the explosion, a large part of the tomb received great damage.

Gazi University Archaeology Department member and head of the Olba excavations, Professor Emel Erten said the Uzuncaburc gendarmerie station, which had been closed, should be reopened. She said they had been fighting against treasure hunters and have tried to make their voice heard with scientific publications, conferences and through the media.

“For years we have been telling officials, including the Gendarmerie General Command, that the closure of the Uzuncaburc gendarmerie station has helped treasure hunters in Olba. The ancient city has had a watch guard for the last eight months. But this last event proves that it is not enough. Our fears came true and one of the most precious pieces in the ancient city of Olba [[Graeco-Roman Diocaesarea-Olba]] was damaged greatly,” she said.

Özyıldırm said the closure of the gendarmerie station was an unforgivable mistake. “The Kırobası gendarmerie station, which is half an hour away from Olba, is not able to protect the ancient city,” he said.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [May 04, 2014]