Mosaics in Turkey’s south were not ‘botched,’ says restorer

Mosaics in Turkey’s south were not ‘botched,’ says restorer

Ömer Erbil – HATAY
Mosaics in Turkey’s south were not ‘botched,’ says restorer The restorer heading the reportedly “botched” restoration of ancient mosaics in the southern province of Hatay has denied the accusations, saying even the smallest movement of stones would have changed the size of the mosaic.

Celal Küçük, the restorer who was heading the restoration works of the Roman-era mosaics in the Hatay Archaeology Museum, said the “botching” claims were false, as even if one of the small stones were moved an inch from its original place, the mosaic itself would need to be enlarged.

“There are around 10,000 tesserae [small stones used for mosaics] in the Isis mosaic. The whole mosaic would enlarge even if you move the tesserae one millimeter,” said Küçük. 

He added they measure and take photos of the mosaics before the restoration and the dimensions of the Isis mosaic were unchanged. 

“The dimension of the Isis mosaic is 2.30 meters width to 1.36 meters height. These dimensions were also the same after the restoration. If the face [of Isis] would have spread like shown in the photo, it would not have been possible for us to keep the [original] size,” said Küçük. 

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, in early May.

“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 Isis (Isaac), a mosaic of Narcissus and a mosaic of Thalassa of the Sea, which are being exhibited in the world’s second-largest mosaic museum in Hatay.

On May 6, the Culture and Tourism Ministry had refuted claims that the restoration of ancient mosaics were seriously damaged, 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. 

An investigation by the Culture Ministry has been opened over claims the restorations had been “botched.”