Heavy construction equipment destroys history in İstanbul

Heavy construction equipment destroys history in İstanbul

(Photo: Today's Zaman)

May 06, 2014, Tuesday/ 18:13:50
İstanbul Today's Zaman - A large number of construction projects being carried out on İstanbul's historical peninsula are destroying historical structures and artifacts found under the ground during excavations, the Radikal daily has claimed.

The daily claimed in its Tuesday edition that earth-movers clear up land, often with no oversight from an archaeologist, and they often destroy ancient walls or other historical artifacts that show up under the ground. It also published a picture that shows an excavator destroying what seems to be a newly unearthed old wall.

The historical peninsula has SIT status, which means it is a protected site. Expert archaeologists should oversee the earth-moving processes, according to the rules. In some cases, archaeologists assigned to oversee the work turn a blind eye to the destruction. Radikal claimed that a historical column was badly damaged by a construction machine during earthmoving work at Mesihpaşa Street No: 16, Laleli, in spite of the presence of the museum archaeologist, identified by the daily as B.T.

Permits from the Protection Board should first be issued for construction on the peninsula. The board only issues these permits after carefully examining projects and with the condition of salvage excavations being carried out first in the event of the discovery of a historical artifact or structure. The construction permit is issued by the Fatih Municipality only after the board's approval is acquired.

The daily recalled that two years ago excavators had destroyed the remains of a Byzantine palace during renovation work in Sultanahmet. That could be possible because wooden barriers had been put up around the building during the renovation work, making it impossible for outside observers to see what is going on inside. Radikal claimed that such wooden panels have been erected around several buildings on the historical peninsula, and that most of these projects do not provide signs that cite the numbers of the permits issued for work to be conducted at the site.

Radikal claimed that it had spotted dozens of ongoing construction projects where excavators are at work. Normally, as per the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Excavation Drilling and Salvage Excavations Directorate, all excavations in the area should be conducted scientifically. In a scientific excavation, construction machines can only be used to move earth from the top of a historical building. The daily also said its reporters had found construction projects being conducted properly. The experts assigned to construction projects where there were work machines were identified as B.T., S.K., N.A. and H.A.

Officials from the Museum of Archaeology cited the lack of an adequate number of experts for the problems on the historical peninsula. Officials said construction companies often sent construction machines behind the backs of experts, for example, at times when they leave the site. However, the museum did not respond to Radikal's claims that four experts of the museum consistently seem to be ignoring the rules.
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