ANTALYA – Doğan News Agency
Camels have been of critical importance in Turkey in centuries past, but the animals are now largely consigned to use in wrestling competitions or touristic purposes. Now, however, the Antalya
Provincial Culture and Tourism Directorate has initiated work about camel culture and the camel business in preparation for the publishing of a book.
“Camels were together with Turks beginning from the Central Asia. They were used for military and trade purposes as well as for their meat and milk,” said Mahmut Davulcu, a folk culture researcher from the directorate.
Camels are believed to have been domesticated in the 3000s B.C. but have only been in Anatolia since the 300s B.C., Davulcu said. Camels were used for transport in Anatolia until the 20th century.
Central Asian camels have two humps while Arabic camels have one, Davulcu said.
While camels were already in Anatolia, but more came with the Turks when they appeared in the area in the 11th century A.D., he said.
“They were used in many fields. People benefited even from their urine. But their most important function was in military and transportation. This function continued until the 20th century. Later as technology developed and new technological tools appeared, they lost their function. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute [TÜIK], there are some 1,500 camels in Anatolia. Their number in Antalya
is 169. Among them 146 are adults and 23 are young camels,” Davulcu said.
Camels continue to be bred for only two reasons, camel wrestling and touristic tours, he said.
“Wrestling camels can be found more in Antalya’s western districts Demre and Kumluca. The ones used for touristic purposes are in the central and eastern parts of the city,” he said.
Researcher Mustafa Tokat, who is conducting work with Davulcu, said camel culture died out in Turkey due to expenses.
“Both the ministry and Antalya
region do not want this tradition to die out. Starting in January 2016, we have followed the Kumluca and Demre camel wrestling competitions and documented them. The work is set to be finished in December this year. We think the book will be ready in 2018,” Tokat said.