Father-son team devotes life to protecting ancient city of Aigai
Ahmet Altanay, 78, who retired after serving as a watchman for 28 years in the ancient city of Aigai, is still guarding the ancient city against illegal excavations with his son, Yusuf Altanay, who is 53.
Despite his advancing age, he also provides voluntary guidance to visitors. Ahmet Altanay started to work as a guard in 1968 in the ancient city of Aigai, one of the 12 Ionian cities established in Western Anatolia.
With the support of the gendarmerie, he protected the ancient city from the illegal excavations of treasure hunters for 28 years. He also gives information about the city to visitors.
Stating that he had many difficulties while protecting the ancient city of Aiagai, Ahmet Altanay said: “People from all the surrounding neighborhoods flocked here. I started working here in such a situation. It was not easy to get the villagers out of the ancient city. There were also treasure hunters. I had a lot of difficulties. After I retired, I quit my job in the ancient city. My son, who works at the Manisa Museum, started working here for me,” he said.
Noting that he used the stones he took from the ancient city in the construction of his house, Ahmet Altanay said, “I built my house in 1963. I did not know its value, so I moved some stones from here to the village and used them in the construction of my house. Later, when I started working here, I realized what a big mistake it was.”
Appreciating the efforts of Ahmet Altanay, Yusuf Sezgin, the head of the Aigai excavation team, said, “We appreciate him as he has been protecting Aigai for 28 years. There is a great effort in this business. What we call a guard is someone who works eight hours a day and ends his shift, but he spent 28 years of his life here. I consider him the protector, the hero of the city. He and his son, Yusuf Altanay, still continue to protect the ancient city in the same way.”