History on display in modest Adana backyard
ADANA – Anadolu Agency
AA PhotoHatun Dilci, who lives in the modest village of Dilekkaya in Turkey’s southern province of Adana, displays dozens of priceless historical artifacts in her garden with the permission of the museum directorate. The village lies at the foot of the hilltop on which the Anavarza Fortress sits.
The garden of the house resembles an open-air museum with Roman-era statues, sarcophagi, column headings and reliefs.
Dilci, who has eight children, worked as a keeper at the ancient city of Anavarza from 1966 to 2005 until she retired. With permission from the Adana Museum Directorate, she later took a number of historical artifacts to the garden of her house for public display.
Dilci said her late husband Kanber Dilci, who died 22 years ago, also worked as a keeper at the ancient city, and now his son continued the mission.
“Thanks to the trust of state officials, the garden of our house turned into an open-air museum,” she said.
Dilci said that during the construction of their house many years ago, they had accidentally found mosaics in the ground, which was the reason why they started working as keepers at the site.
“We started to construct a house. While cleaning the land that we found in the village, we unearthed an ancient mosaic and informed the officials about it. They gave us 500 Turkish Liras and asked to build the house a short distance away. When digging the second location, we found another mosaic. We sold two chickens for travel money and went to the Governor’s Office in Adana. The governor called the museum director and we all together went to the place of the mosaic. Following an examination, the officials told us that we had found the ‘King’s Daughter Mosaic.’ The governor kissed my husband’s forehead and asked him to serve as a keeper there. He gave her a state uniform and a gun, and from then on we had no financial difficulties,” she added.
Fight against treasure hunters
Dilci said the family had to constantly contend with treasure hunters.
“We were trying to protect a timeless ancient city and at the same time we were trying to carry ancient artifacts to our garden to protect them. We faced treasure hunters on a number of occasions … Treasure hunters tried to burn down my house, poison my animals, kill my cows, and spray poison on my bee hives,” she said.
Despite her old age, Dilci still serves as a guide at the ancient site for tourists and visitors.
“I have spent my life at this ancient city. I have faced many difficulties, not just treasure hunters. Villagers did not like us because of our warnings. I had fights with villagers who plowed the protected area, or who removed stones from the historical artifacts. I did my best to do my job. I still voluntarily keep this place. I observe the area throughout the night. I don’t even trust my own son,” she said.
She added that she was pleased with the newly initiated excavation and restoration works in the ancient city of Anavarza, saying she wished to see the streets of her village filled with local and foreign tourists.