Sunday, August 7, 2011

Xanthos excavations turned over to Turkish archaeologists

A Turkish archaeology team has taken over archaeology excavations in the ancient city of Xanthos due to the slow progress under the guidance of French teams. The ancient site has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1988.

Turkish archaeologists will now be responsible for a dig at the ancient city of Xanthos in the Mediterranean province of Antalya due to the slow pace of excavations under French teams that have been working at the site for 60 years.

Bordeaux University has passed on the excavations to a team under the guidance of Professor Burhan Varkıvanç, head of the Archaeology Department at Akdeniz University in Antalya.

Turkish scientists have already begun excavations at Xanthos, which had historical significance as the Lycian capital in the 2nd century BC. Akdeniz University’s 23-member team will conduct excavations at the site for two months, said Varkıvanç, adding that the untouched mosaics of the ancient city would be repaired and that the site would soon be cleared.

British archaeologists initiated the first archaeology excavations in the ancient city between 1838 and 1842. Many sculptures, reliefs and architectural pieces, such as the Monument of Harpy, the Tomb of Payava, and the Nereid Monument were loaded onto ships and taken to England.

The excavations in the republican period were conducted by the French universities of Paris and Sorbonne in 1950. After an interval, the excavations were resumed by a Bordeaux University team under Jacques de Caurtils’ direction in 1990.

Although the French carried out the excavations for 60 years, their alleged lack of progress caused reactions in Turkey. The Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry inquired about taking over the excavation last year, but the process was delayed following a request by the French Foreign Ministry.

For more interesting topics related to archaeology, visit archaeology excavations.

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