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Old 24th August 2005, 16:01   #1 (permalink)
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Treasure hunters blowing up historic stone monuments

Treasure hunters blowing up historic stone monuments
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

Treasure hunters are using dynamite and destroying historic stone monuments bearing ancient reliefs and sculptures in the central province of Konya in a fruitless search for gold and other treasure, claims Professor Mustafa Şahin of Selçuk University.

He said there are many such historic rocks in almost every part of Turkey and emphasized that remnants belonging to the civilizations that once lived in Anatolia are a common heritage.

“Unfortunately, I cannot say we're protecting this historic heritage. It's known that many artifacts excavated on Turkish soil remain unregistered,” he said.

In comments on his tour of Konya's Bozkır district – rich in artifacts from between the first century B.C. and the second century A.D. -- with other academics from the university, Şahin said: “We cannot believe what we've seen. We've witnessed a massacre of history.”

He claimed that treasure hunters had blown up many monuments located around the ancient city of Isaura that date back to the early Hellenistic and Roman eras.

“One example of this is very striking: A relief on a tomb depicted a hunter on horseback pointing his spear towards the animals he was pursuing. I believe that gold seekers blew up that rock in the assumption that the spear was in fact indicating that gold had somehow been secreted inside. I can say now that it is absolutely no use looking for treasure inside solid rock monuments. These so-called gold seekers are uneducated to the degree that they don't realize they will find no treasure. All they will achieve is destroying Turkey's heritage,” he said.

Şahin went on to say that similar acts of vandalism were taking place in almost every part of the country and noted such actions were causing immeasurable harm to Anatolia, which was, in essence, an open-air museum.

“We've even seen holes drilled into historic rocks. This clearly shows that museum officials and the gendarmerie have failed to prevent such vandalism, ” he added.

As a solution he suggested that local administrations in rural areas register all historic artifacts that will, in turn, assist municipalities in protecting the heritage of their regions.
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