Gilded seals of historic Antalya mosque disappear
Three more gilded seals in the Tekeli Mehmet Paşa Mosque in the historic neighborhood of Kaleiçi of the southern province of Antalya have disappeared, after other seals of the mosque went missing in the past years.
The historic mosque, which is located next to a clock tower, one of the monuments of Kaleiçi, is believed to have been built by Tekeli Mehmet Paşa between 1606 and 1616.
Some of the 18 gold gilded seals on each of the three entrance gates of the 500-year-old mosque had also gone missing in the past.
Five seals on the southern gate, nine on the western gate and four on the northern gate are still in place, but very recently, one seal from the southern gate and two from the western gate disappeared.
Kalekapısı Artisans Development Association (KALEDER) chairman Hasan Kilit said the old seals might have fallen off the gates in time, adding, “Such seals also exist in Greek houses in Kaleiçi. They carry historic value and should be protected.”
Kilit urged the General Directorate of Foundations to take measures to protect the current ones.
An assembly member of the Muratpaşa Municipality, which Kaleiçi is a part of, Kilit urged on behalf of the municipality that something should be done.
“Something needs to be done. It is important to protect the historical artifacts,” he stressed.
Kilit said tiles around the mosque were also removed some time in the 1970s.
“The artisans during those years took care of the mosque and removed the leads on the dome. They were melted in boilers in the garden and re-plated. The bottom of the domes was completely asphalted. A small damage occurred inside but the mosque was built water-resistant. There was an idea to find the missing parts of the tiles but was called off, as they would not have complied with the original tiles.”
Regional Directorate of the Antalya Foundations officials said they were informed about the missing seals and added that the mosque’s project should be examined.
It has also been observed that the historic mosque needs serious maintenance, as the current tiles are also at risk of falling off.
A signboard at the entrance to the mosque says the central dome of the mosque is supported by two smaller domes on the east and the west. The mosque was restored in 1850, 1852 and 1971, it also shows.
But contrary to what officials have been saying about the issue, archaeologist Nezih Başgelen told Doğan News Agency that the seals in the Tekeli Mehmet Paşa Mosque had actually been stolen. He said theft similar to that was happening all over the country, adding that it was sad to watch the damage done on historic pieces in Turkey.
“In terms of our historic artifacts, illegal smuggling has been one of the most pressing problems in the country for centuries. Since the beginning of the 19th century, several artifacts had been smuggled abroad to be sent to big museums and collectors. The best known examples are the tiles and other artifacts in our mosques and ancient cities as well as tombstones. The fate of these artifacts is such a shame for us. It is obvious that the stolen tiles and artifacts in the mosque in Kaleiçi have caused serious damage,” Başgelen said.