We cannot protect culture with 700 archeologists

We cannot protect culture with 700 archeologists

Archeology is a branch of science that researches, documents and tries to interpret, based on material findings, the cultural and social orders of human communities that lived in the past. Ancient artifacts are preserved not because of their aesthetic beauties, but because they are historic documents.   

In the first years of the Republic, 25 archeological museums were opened in 17 years; in the 20 years from 1940 to 1960, the number of museums founded was 10. 

While in 1923 our museums had 109,000 artifacts, this figure reached 759,000 in 1934. Today, our museums have around 3 million artifacts. We have 189 public museums and 183 private.

In the United States, the number of museums is 17,500, in Germany 6,501 and in Italy, our strongest rival in tourism, 3,790.

Our country, which has seen three empires throughout its history and has hosted 72 civilizations, unfortunately does not have enough museums.

Between the years 1929 and 1934, there were 287 experts and civil servants working in our museums. In the 1950s, when this field lost its priority, museums started working with one key and one manager.

The flow to the center and to major museums could not be prevented. Many museums were without a manager, officer and archeologist. Most of them were managed by acting managers for 15 to 20 years, a problem which is still not solved.

The Ministry of Culture was always listed as one of the last items in the budget and protocols. It was assigned under the Prime Ministry, then Education Ministry, then Youth and Sports, then Ministry of Tourism; then, again, it was made an independent ministry. Then it was again incorporated with the Ministry of Tourism. The directorates were separated, and then joined, then they were put in a personnel pool, and thus the ministry could not be institutionalized.

Spokesperson of the Archeologists Employment Platform Binnur Çelebi said during the time of former Culture Minister Atilla Koç that all museums were inspected and thus technical and staff shortcomings were determined and partially solved; new museum projects were earmarked. Çelebi said at that period museums were recovering. She added she believed the media was unfairly cruel to Koç.

According to Çelebi, because this ministry was neglected for almost 50 years, what Koç did was not adequate. In almost 25 years, from the 90s to now, the number of archeologists has not even doubled.
With an average of 700 archeologists, they are trying to protect culture, for each museum there is almost two personnel.

In recent years, about 10 to 15 people were employed yearly through the KPSS, the central examination for civil servants. In 2012, around 5,500 archeologists took the KPSS and among them only 14 lucky individuals were appointed. In 2013, after several initiatives of the archeologists and with the support of the Undersecretary of Culture and Tourism Özgür Özaslan, for the first time, this number was multiplied and 60 archeologists were appointed.

However, again in 2013, while the Ministry of Culture and Tourism appointed 331 people through the KPSS from professions such as art historian, architect, restoration expert, unfortunately archeologists could not benefit from this opportunity. Of course this is not fair.

As a result, more than 10,000 archeologists took the KPSS in six years, but appointments were less than 1 percent of this figure. In 2013, while 3,750 personnel were employed in the Religious Affairs Directorate, in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, in 50 years, let alone archeologists, this number of people was not hired all together. This situation indeed creates disappointment in thousands of archeologists just graduating from their schools. However, it would be wrong to blame the Ministry of Culture and Tourism only… As a matter of fact, archeologists have compiled what could be done and what their demands are.