Cultural Postcards + [Turkey]

Near East: Construction work damages ancient tombs in Istanbul
Two ancient sarcophagii covers, which were found during the rehabilitation of an underpass in Istanbul’s historical peninsula, have been delivered to Istanbul Archaeology Museum, but only after being damaged in the construction work.

Construction work damages ancient tombs in Istanbul
Istanbul Archaeology Museum officials denied that there were any archaeologists 
present at the site during the work [Credit: Hurriyet]

The tomb parts were discovered while a bulldozer was working to remove asphalt on the Vezneciler Underpass, next to the main door of Istanbul University, as part of a project which started Aug. 5. The Istanbul Archaeology Museum was informed when the tombs were found, albeit after they were damaged due by the heavy construction vehicle.

The area was defined as a “necropolis” in the ancient era of the city.

The company conducting the construction reportedly should have informed the museum before the work began.

Hüseyin Işıldak, the site chief, told Radikal that the work was halted when ruins were found on early Aug. 18, while adding that archaeologists were participating in the construction.

Construction work damages ancient tombs in Istanbul
One of the damaged sarcophagus lids [Credit: Hurriyet]

“After a couple hours, museum officials came and the tombs were removed. We worked carefully, and that’s why our works were delayed for a few days. It was not a deep dig. We have only removed asphalt so far,” Işıldak said.

However, Istanbul Archaeology Museum officials denied that there were any archaeologists present at the site during the work, adding that the museum directorate was not informed about the construction.

The owners of nearby workplaces said the ruins were found before Aug. 18 and kept there for a week.

İzzet Umut Çelik, an instructor at Şişli Vocational School Architectural Restoration Program, who took and shared photos of the tomb pieces on social media, said there were some white marks on the ruins which suggested fresh damage probably caused by construction tools.

“The standard understanding of construction site must not be used in Istanbul,” Çelik said, referring to the city’s millennia-old history.

“No more construction should be permitted in the historic peninsula,” he said, adding that firms were disrespecting the city’s history.

Companies are skipping preliminary examinations to determine whether archaeological artifacts are present in sensitive areas out of a rush for profits, he said.

Author: Fundanur Öztürk | Source: Hurryet Daily News [August 26, 2014]