Turkey’s Culture Ministry denies claims of botched restorations of ancient mosaics
ANKARA - Anadolu AgencyThe Culture and Tourism Ministry has refuted claims that the restoration of ancient mosaics in the southern city of Hatay has seriously damaged the works, saying the photos published in the press were taken during the initial phase of the restoration.
“It has been determined that no damage has been inflicted on the mosaics. The photos used in the media were taken during the initial phase of the conservation,” read a part of the written statement issued by the ministry on May 6.
The scandal erupted after local mosaic craftsman Mehmet Daşkapan brought the issue to the attention of a local newspaper in Antakya, a district of Hatay, where the alleged damaged mosaics are being held in the Hatay Archaeology Museum, the world’s second largest mosaic museum.
“Valuable pieces from the Roman period have been ruined. They have become caricatures of their former selves. Some are in an especially poor condition and have lost their originality and value,” Daşkapan had said.
Among the supposedly damaged mosaics were said to be world-famous panels including a mosaic depicting the sacrifice of Isaac and a mosaic of Narcissus.
The Culture Ministry statement said photos from the initial phases of the conservation were “maliciously” given to the press.
“It seems that there is a difference in the colors [of the mosaics] in the old and new photos, but when the procedures are finished the mosaics will gain their old color back,” it said.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Culture and Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik repeated the answer issued by the ministry, also adding that the museum was never closed to visitors as had been claimed in some reports.
“Our ministry shows the utmost sensitivity to the preservation of cultural assets,” Çelik emphasized.