Tatarlı burial chamber to be displayed at new museum

Tatarlı burial chamber to be displayed at new museum

Tatarlı burial chamber to be displayed at new museum The painted friezes of a 2,500-year-old wooden burial chamber that was found 48 years ago during illegal excavations in Afyonkarahisar will soon go on display following the construction of a new museum in the inner Aegean province.

The burial chamber was unearthed at the Tatarlı Tumulus, located in Dinar’s Tatarlı district, by illegal excavators in 1969, after which its painted wooden parts were smuggled abroad. 

The Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry worked to repatriate 38 small wooden pieces and four timbers to Turkey in 2010 after Professor Latife Summerer informed authorities that the wooden segments of the burial chamber, which dates back to 525 B.C., were at the Munich Archaeology Museum in Germany.

The artwork has been restored by Turkish and German experts and was displayed at an exhibition titled “Tatarlı Tumulus: The Return of Colors” as part of the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture. 

Later, the pieces were put in special boxes at the Afyonkarahisar Museum. Now they are set to be exhibited in a special section in the province’s new museum. 

Valuable cultural heritage

The painted friezes, which are among the most valuable works of art in Turkey’s cultural heritage, are considered a unique example of a lost ancient art of wooden painting. 

The friezes depict war, expeditions, hunts and the lives of nobles. Other friezes also show corteges, sacrifices, war dances and funeral ceremonies in an Anatolian-Persian style.

Afyonkarahisar Museum Director Mevlüt Üyümez said the wooden burial chamber was plundered by illegal diggers in 1969. 

The painted friezes in the burial chamber drew a great deal of attention, Üyümez said. “The inside of the chamber was fully painted but the paint was [only] partially protected. Still, the painted friezes of the Tatarlı tumulus are a worldwide sensation. It is unique in the world.”

Üyümez said the artwork was returned to Turkey but was not displayed because of a lack of space.

Four-section display area 

Üyümez said the burial chamber would be displayed in a special section. 

“The permanent display at the new Afyon Museum has two main goals. The first is to provide the best possible conditions for gentle wooden structures and painted friezes. It requires a very good view of the burial chamber for visitors. The display area will have four sections; the burial chamber will be reached through a narrow corridor. A round outer corridor will reflect the circular shape of a tumulus. The road to the chamber will not be enlightened; there will be a soft light in the chamber room. The light will be enough to see the paintings but not damage the paint. The painted parts will be protected with glass. The museum will also screen a documentary on the Tatarlı Tumulus.”