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Istanbul hosted the 13th edition of the conference entitled 'Archaeological Research for Historical Reconstruction and Heritage Promotion'.
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Istanbul hosted the 13th edition of the conference entitled ‘Archaeological Research for Historical Reconstruction and Heritage Promotion’.

Categories: Archaeology and Heritage

A report on Italy’s contribution to excavations, research and studies within the archaeological Missions in Turkey.

8. Foto di gruppo dei partecipanti al Convegno_Group photo of the participants in the Conference

In Istanbul, on 17-18 November 2022, an over ten-year and consolidated appointment of great scientific importance and great value for cultural diplomacy between Italy and Turkey took place. The event is widely recognized by the authorities of the two countries and by the international scientific, academic and cultural community.

The occasion allowed comparing the results of the excavations and field research carried out by Italian archaeologists who, together with their Turkish colleagues, work on the immense heritage featuring throughout the Turkish territory. The focal point of the conference was the precious partnership and training activity carried out and promoted by the Italian archaeological Missions. These, in fact, have the characteristic of chronologically covering almost all the fundamental periods of human history, from Prehistory and Proto-history to the Paleo-Assyrian and Hittite age, from the classical Greek-Roman period to the Byzantine era.

The first day opened with introductory speeches by Salvatore Schirmo, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Istanbul, who introduced the title of the conference (“Archaeological research for historical reconstruction and enhancement of heritage”) and a video on the exhibition “Talk to me, Earth! Medea in Cappadocia with Pasolini and Maria Callas” and Giorgio Marrapodi, Ambassador of Italy in Turkey, who also remembered the late Prof. Marcello Barbanera. Rahmi Asal, Director of the Istanbul Archaeological Museums concluded the part dedicated to institutional greetings. Prof. Isabella Caneva of the University of Salento (Lecce), historical director of the Mission on the site of Mersin-Yumuktepe, gave a lectio magistralis on the topic of “Archaeology and society in Anatolia yesterday and today: a deontological dialogue between sustainability and advantages”, with an excursus on the history, theory and practices of archeology and on cultural heritage legislation in Italy and Turkey.

Subsequently, the initial session was dedicated to the Prehistory and Protohistory of Anatolia. Prof. Giulio Palumbi (University of Bari Aldo Moro), also involved in the Mersin-Yumuktepe site, took the floor. After him, it was the turn of Prof. Francesca Balossi Restelli (University of Rome “La Sapienza”), who directs the excavations on the site of Arslantepe, the “hill of the lions”, in the plain of Malatya (eastern Anatolia), characterized by the continuous overlapping of inhabited centers from the 6th to the 1st millennium BC and included in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2021. In addition, Prof. Nicolò Marchetti contributed to the session on the site of Karkemish, on the western bank of the Turkish Euphrates, where he is overseeing the development of an archaeological park. Prof. Anacleto D’Agostino (University of Pisa), instead, excavates at Uşaklı Höyük (Yozgat), a Hittite site, identified with the ancient Zippalanda, a holy city consecrated to the cult of the God of the Storm.

In the afternoon, the session continued with the speeches of Prof. Marina Pucci (University of Florence) and Prof. Lorenzo D’Alfonso (University of Pavia), who collaborate on the project on the site of Niğde-Kınık Höyük (southern Cappadocia), investigating the levels of the Hellenistic Age, the Iron Age and the Middle Bronze Age. D’Alfonso himself illustrated the most recent discoveries at the site of Porsuk-Zeyve Höyük, in the same area, where he attempts to redefine the chronology and role of the site for metallurgy in the Iron Age. Prof. Luca Peyronel (University of Milan) and his team work on the site of Kültepe-Kanesh, where the most ancient traces of the Hittite language were discovered. Finally, Prof. Leopoldo Repola (Suor Orsola Benincasa University of Naples) gave a report on the application of innovative sensing technologies used at the site of Ḫattuša, capital of the Hittite empire and UNESCO site since 1986.

The second day, on the other hand, focused on Classical and Byzantine Archaeology. Remotely, Prof. Giovanni Salmeri (University of Pisa) and Prof. Anna Lucia D’Agata (CNR Rome) illustrated the commitment of the Mission directed by them at the site of Misis, the ancient Mopsouestia, in Cilicia. Prof. Grazia Semeraro (University of Salento), instead, reported on the restoration and promotion projects at Hierapolis of Phrygia, a Hellenistic-Roman city, at today’s locality of Pamukkale (“cotton castle”, province of Denizli), on the UNESCO list since 1988. Prof. Asena Kızılarslanoğlu (Kastamonu University) spoke about the excavations and the valorization activities of the site of Elaiussa Sebaste, a settlement in Cilicia with a chronology ranging from the Hellenistic to the Byzantine age – the excavation  of which were directed until 2022 by the aforementioned Prof. Marcello Barbanera (University of Rome La Sapienza).

In the afternoon session, Dr. Laura Buccino (University of Florence), Director of the Mission to Pompeiopolis of Paphlagonia, discussed about the internal region of Pontus in the late imperial age (III-V century). Prof. Maria Andaloro (Tuscia University) illustrated the activities of the Tokalı Kilise restoration site in Göreme (Nevşehir), a national park in central Turkey, UNESCO site since 1985 with the name of Göreme National Park and rock sites of Cappadocia. Furthermore, she explored the genesis and characteristics of the aforementioned exhibition “Talk to me, earth!”, produced and organized in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute in Istanbul. Finally, Dr. Tommaso Ismaelli (CNR Rome) focused on the monumental Nymphaeum of Tripolis on the Maeander (Denizli), a site on the borders of the historical regions of Lydia and Phrygia, which played a key role from the Hellenistic to the Byzantine period.

Overall, the event offered moments of debate on important and innovative topics such as those of public archeology, outreach and dissemination to the non-specialist public. The archaeological Missions, in fact, annually carry out complex operational plans in the field, in which archaeologists, restorers, topographers and specialists in museumisation, valorization and cultural promotion collaborate. They carry out a scientific and study activity of great importance and represent, at the same time, a valuable tool for the training of local operators and for the transfer of technologies in sectors such as archeology, restoration and protection of cultural heritage, in which Italy ranks at an internationally recognized level of excellence. It is important to support and promote such merit, even more in perspective, for the protection of Turkish cultural heritage, unfortunately recently damaged by the seismic events that hit the south-east of the country, also at sites where Italian missions operate.

The Congress on Archeology of the Italian Institute in Istanbul becomes, in fact, an annual event that brings together the technical-scientific world of specialists with that of diplomacy. In Turkey, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has co-financed, through the DGDP – Office VI, thirteen archaeological Missions for the year 2022. These were the protagonists of the Conference in Istanbul.

Further details on the activities of the IIC in Istanbul can be found on its website and on its YouTube channel.


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