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Representational image of broken Roman statues. The statues here were found before the current discovery and are housed in the Hierapolis Archaeological Museum, Turkey.

Corporate Terrorists Strike Roman Temple in Turkey

A storm in the Black Sea has washed up ancient Roman pillars and artifacts in Turkey's Amasra district. According to Hurriyet Daily News “locals found the ruins lying among the rocks on the beach and contacted the Amasra Museum Directorate.” The Director of Amasra Museum, Baran Aydın, has identified the pieces as “Roman-era figures…unearthed by a construction company which possibly dumped them in the sea along with other debris.”

Antalya was founded by Attalos II, King of Pergamon, in 150 BC, but many ancient Roman landmarks remain, for example, the Roman port city Phaselis and Hadrian’s Gate, which was built by the Roman emperor in the 2nd century. The washed-up artifacts dated to around 90 BC, a time when the Roman Empire ruled the Anatolia region and before it became Byzantine.

Hadrian’s Gate, Antalya, Turkey

Hadrian’s Gate, Antalya, Turkey. (Ingo Mehling/ CC BY SA 3.0 )

Speaking of the origins of these ancient Roman artifacts, Baran Aydin told Turkish media “it’s very possible that the pieces, some of which feature Roman-era figures, were dumped into the sea alongside debris from a construction site a long time ago.” It was “a recent storm” that brought them to the shore, Aydin added . What we are looking at is the result of the willful destruction of archaeology. In Turkey, apparently contractors dispose of ancient ruins over cliffs at night, but in other countries things are often far less clandestine.

In March 2001, the world stood still and watched the Taliban blow up two 1500-year-old standing Buddha statues, the tallest in the world, on a cliff in central Afghanistan. The Telegraph reported at the time “In January, the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on the Taliban.” But hold on a second! If “sanctions” were placed on the Taliban for destroying archaeology, then why didn’t the UN Security Council impose sanctions on IKEA?

Sunrise shows the loss of the larger Bamiyan Buddha statue in the Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan.

Sunrise shows the loss of the larger Bamiyan Buddha statue in the Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan. ( CC BY 2.0 )

In 2007, Europe’s popular cheap furniture outlet did something equally as repulsive, but a little more repugnant than the Taliban. Reuters disclosed in a shocking 2007 article that when IKEA began building a new store in Nanjing, China, contractors dug up “ten ancient tombs" dating back 1800 years, which were “constructed of green bricks embroidered with ornate lotus patterns.“ Under Chinese law, companies found destroying "ancient tombs" can be fined 50,000 to 500,000 yuan (about $6,600-$65,700) so IKEA took this ‘piffle’ of a financial hit and instructed excavation machinery and bulldozers to destroy the 10 ancient tombs for the new store.

Photo of a tomb in Nanjing located near the museum devoted to Zheng He.

Photo of a tomb in Nanjing located near the museum devoted to Zheng He. ( Public Domain )

Sadly, to get to the origins of archaeological vandalism we must come right back to the source. Probably the most shocking act of destruction occurred in 1871 when archaeologist and professor Schliemann found the legendary lost city of Troy. He was poised to be the most famous explorer of all time, having made the discovery of the century, and the world awaited his next move. But Schliemann faced a real problem in that there were nine ancient cities stacked on top of each other!

One day, as the world’s best archaeologists were strategizing on what would be a 20-year project, the inventive archaeologist came up with an innovative new approach and uttered those fateful words “I have a friend in London called Alfred Nobel and he can help us get to the gold faster.”

Items from the Troy II treasure ("Priam's Treasure") discovered by Heinrich Schliemann. The collection was divided in 1880.

Items from the Troy II treasure ("Priam's Treasure") discovered by Heinrich Schliemann. The collection was divided in 1880. ( Public Domain )

Four years earlier Nobel invented dynamite, and suffering gold fever, Schliemann used a little too much. His effort to “remove the top layer” fragmented and pulverized over 95% of the clay artifacts in nine ancient cities, turning to dust 4000 years of treasures in a fraction of a second.

Between terrorists, corporations, and archaeologists, our history has never been so threatened, as is evident in the discovery of the ancient temple in Turkey.

Top Image: Representational image of broken Roman statues. The statues here were found before the current discovery and are housed in the Hierapolis Archaeological Museum, Turkey. Source: Carole Raddato/ CC BY SA 2.0

By Ashley Cowie

Comments

"The washed-up artifacts dated to around 90 BC, a time when the Roman Empire ruled the Anatolia region and before it became Byzantine under Islamic rule."

The Byzantine and Islamic/Ottoman periods in the history of this region are distinct. The Byzantine period refers to the period after the administrative division of the Roman Empire into East and West and after the collapse of the Western portion. The Byzantines never called themselves this as they were "Romans." It is a construct of convenience among historians. The Byzantine Empire was Christian, specifically the Eastern Orthodox Church. It was never Islamic. Please correct your article.

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