Ottoman daily found inside wall of Dolmabahçe Palace
Newspaper fragments from 1917 were found inside the wall plaster during a restoration work at the Dolmabahçe Palace’s Süfera Salonu (the Ambassador’s Hall) in Istanbul on Jan. 23.
The newspapers were used as filling materials during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed Reşad in 1909-1918.
The legible parts of the newspaper pages tell stories about the Ottoman Empire’s first two planes, and that the latter travelled from Beirut to Damascus safely.
While the printing date of the Ottoman newspaper is estimated to coincide with the early 1910s, a French daily fragment reads the date 1917.
During the restoration works in one of the halls of the palace, a sketch of a male portrait was also found behind the layers of paint on the wall.
The portrait, which appears to have been drawn with oil paints, is thought to be a souvenir left by the palace engravers.
“The artisans who made the decoration work of that period used the walls like a painting palette,” said Cem Eriş, the head of the restoration department of the National Palaces.
Walls like a painting palette
According to the details related to the restoration at the time of Sultan Mehmed Reşad, it is understood that the male portrait, which was found under the layers of paint on the wall in the rooms 30 and 32, was drawn with oil paint, and the sketch-shaped portrait is thought to have been made by the palace calligraphers.
In addition, it was revealed that the newspaper pieces were used as filling materials. It is written in the newspaper pieces, containing Ottoman and French news, that the “Ottoman” and “Prince Celaleddin” planes, the first planes of the Ottoman Empire, successfully carried out 40-minute flights.
“Our restoration works have been continuing at the Dolmabahçe Palace Süfera Hall for more than a year. Before we started the restoration work in the room where the ambassadors were received, we made analyses. The same works are going on this way in room 32. During the restoration and conservation process, we encountered interesting things. A picture of a male figure appeared under the paint layers. The artisans, who made the decoration works, of that period used the wall like a painting palette. There are other different drawings, tree pictures and scribbles. One of the calligraphers made an experiment by drawing a human figure. He left us such a surprise under the paint layer, when we got there, our friends stopped the work,” he said.
Eriş said that they took the human figures under protection.
“The National Palaces Administrative Directorate has a Science Evaluation Board. They will make a decision when we present the figure we found to the board. We will decide how it will be protected and how our works will continue, according to the decision of the board. Here we see the Ottoman male portrait with a beard, mustache and turban, which of course creates a different interest,” he added.
Stating that the filling material consisted of the boxes of electrical materials used at that time, Eriş said, “In the newspaper fragments, we saw news about Siyer-i Nebi and the success of the first 40-minute journey of Ottoman and Prince Celalettin planes from Beirut to Damascus. This is an event that happened in the 1910s or just after. In French texts, there is the advertisement of a theater play, which is from 1917. These are the newspapers left from the work carried out between 1910 and 1917. Our goal is to open the place to visitors this year.”