Dynamite Damages Ancient Reliefs in Turkey

Roman tomb reliefs were damaged by looters' dynamite explosions in Mersin, Turkey

by Justin Barton
April 3, 2009
Ten days ago at the archaeological site Adamkayalar in the Şeytan Valley of Turkey, a group of looters damaged eleven rock-wall relief niches when they detonated dynamite. The Mersin University Klikia Archaeological Research Center has reported the situation on their website and to local police. The Mersin Culture and Tourism office has launched an investigation to catch the looters responsible for the damage.

The rock-cut reliefs, known as the Adamkayalar, are located in the Kizkalesi district of Mersin and part of a Roman necropolis containing tombs dating to third century A.D. The reliefs depict depict important individuals of the time, including kings, soldiers and high priests.

Mersin University’s Associate Professor Murat Durukan of the Klikia Archaeological Research Center was displeased with the tragic event and has said that the looters sabotaged not only Turkey’s heritage, but a site important to the whole of the world. He related it to some of the more famous destructions in Afghanistan and beckons for his government to provide better security: “The situation we experienced here is not different from the destruction of historical artifacts in Afghanistan. Being indifferent to this event will damage our country’s image. The authorities should appoint a guard in the place for twenty-four hours to stop this insanity.”

The Mersin tombs have not been digitally preserved; if digital documentation techniques had been applied to the site it is possible that an accurate repair could take place. Perhaps what is left should be digitally documented and preserved in order to safe guard from the permanent loss of information and detail if these types of acts continue.

Roman rock-wall niched tombs in Mersin, Turkey. Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/enginnoyan/687190436/">Engin Noyan.</a>
Roman rock-wall niched tombs in Mersin, Turkey