Austrian archaeological excavations in Turkey canceled amid diplomatic row

Austrian archaeological excavations in Turkey canceled amid diplomatic row

Austrian archaeological excavations in Turkey canceled amid diplomatic row

DHA photo

Excavations carried out for more than 100 years by the Austrian Archaeology Institute in the ancient city of Ephesus in western Turkey have been cancelled two months before scheduled this season, through a decision by the Turkish Foreign Ministry. 

It is reported that the decision also includes halting work at the ancient city of Limyra in the southern province of Antalya and in Myra, also in Antalya, where excavations have been ongoing since 1970.

The decision comes following a diplomatic spat between Turkey and Austria, with Culture and Tourism Ministry sources stating that all excavations carried out by Austrians in Turkey were canceled “because of the country’s recent attitude against Turkey.”

The ancient city of Limyra, located between the towns of Turunçova and Sahilkent in the Finike district, includes an acropolis and ruins from the Roman and Byzantine eras. 

Limyra, from which important artifacts are on display at the Antalya Museum, was established in the 5th century. Austrian academic Martin Seyer has been working in Limyra since 2008 and got fresh permission last year to conduct a surface survey around the ancient city. This permit has now been canceled with the order of the ministry. 

‘Turkey has enough experience’  

Thirty-six excavations by foreign archaeology teams have been ongoing in Turkey with the permission of the cabinet, as well as 12 surface surveys. The excavations are carried out by teams from the U.S., Austria, Italy, Japan, France, Britain, Holland, Belgium and Canada. 

However, many have reported that it is becoming increasingly difficult to secure permission for these excavations. Officials reportedly say Turkey “has enough archaeological experience” and the state gives financial support of 36 million Turkish Liras every year for excavations. 

Diplomatic tension between Ankara and Vienna erupted over a recent legal change to sexual abuse of minors in Turkey. A ticker at the Vienna Airport in July displayed a news headline claiming that Turkey would allow children under 15 years old to be sexually abused following a Constitutional Court decision, while an earlier ticker reportedly read that “With a vacation in Turkey, you will only support [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan.”

Ankara reacted angrily to both tickers and last month summoned Austria’s deputy ambassador to Turkey.