Cultural Postcards + Turkey

Near East: Treasure hunters destroy mosaics in Central Anatolia
Treasure hunters in a field in the Central Anatolian province of Karaman’s Sarıveliler district have damaged unique ancient mosaics underground, after using a caterpillar excavator in their hunt. The scandal was revealed by a teacher who had returned to his village during the holiday period.

Treasure hunters destroy mosaics in Central Anatolia
Excavating an area of 150 square meters and found a mosaic structure one meter
 underground, suspects caused considerable damage to the mosaics
 [Credit: Hurriyet]

The suspects recently began excavating an area of 150 square meters and found a mosaic structure and walls one meter underground. After the discovery, they continued digging four meters underground, causing considerable damage to the mosaics.

When the teacher, Yücel Özyurt, and his relatives saw the excavated area, they informed the Karaman Museum Directorate about the situation. The museum director Abdülbari Yıldız and Associate Professor Ercan Aşkın of Karamanoğlu Mehmetbey University Archaeology Department then came to the village to examine the area.

Yıldız said the structure could date back to the Roman Empire in the 3rd or 4th centuries, adding that the excavated area was most probably the entrance of the structure.

“The main center of the structure is deeper underground. Its upper part has been damaged since ancient times. There are lots of Roman ceramics in the surface. The mosaics were made in the garden or courtyard of the structure. It might be a religious structure or the house of a notable person at the time, because these mosaics are unique ones that we have never seen before. They were made on thick Khorasan mortar. The motifs are very different; they are geometrical and in the shape of a fish. Some were damaged during the excavation. The mosaic structure is in layers underground and a legal excavation should be carried out as soon as possible. The necessary process will be begun to start excavations,” he said.

Yıldız added that the mosaics discovered had never before been seen around Karaman, and said the area could be turned into a touristic site after further excavations.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [August 14, 2014]

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