ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Unlicensed excavations take place inside the graves in Çatalca district.
Treasure hunters and looters have been plundering a Byzantine cemetery and the İnceğiz caves in Istanbul’s Çatalca district for many years, despite the area’s recognition as a protected archeological site of the first degree.
“Grave diggers have swarmed into the region when the excavation work in the cemetery came to an end in 1995 upon the order of the Archeology Museum. Unlicensed excavations take place inside the graves that were carved into stone, after [the looters] break the stone lids. History is being destroyed,” said Ahmet Rasim Yücel, the head of the Çatalca Culture and Tourism Association.
Despite constant patrols by gendarmerie forces, controls are still lax because the area in question is too wide, according to Çatalca District Gov. Nevzat Taşdan, who also complained about the lack of means available to them in combating treasure hunters, the daily Akşam reported.
“There is no redress for the damage unless rescue excavations are undertaken. We expect Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay to take charge and claim this inheritance. The borders of the protected cemetery also ought to be widened,” Yücel said.