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Creating Images of the past: Archaeology and its Representation in the Turkish Republic

14 aprile 2014
Ex Boccherini - Piazza S. Ponziano 6 (Conference Room )
This talk explores the role of archaeology and its visual representation in the Turkish Republic. While the majority of previous studies have focused on the development of archaeology and its links with nationalistic theories, in this paper I aim to explain how archaeological knowledge was created and presented to the general public. Based on museum guidebooks, official publications and archival documents, this research investigates how the perception of the past has been constructed through different modes of representation, such as in popular museum displays, exhibitions, photography, magazines and books, and how this imagery of antiquity has influenced the narrative of the modern state of Turkey. The discipline of archaeology underwent a profound transformation after the foundation of the Turkish Republic. It became one of the main fields of investment for the government that was aiming to create a national Turkish identity and to legitimise the new Republic of Turkey. The Kemalist idea was to found a new state with new traditions, a new shared common heritage within the Turkish boundaries. The basis of this idea of nationalism was to reject the multi-cultural past of the Ottoman Empire and to construct a new cultural identity. Numerous excavations were conducted in Anatolia starting in the 1930s, and the archaeological museums were consequently intended to play an important role in showing to the larger public the new archaeological discoveries. In line with other scholarship that frames Turkish Republican history in the context of so-called modernisation project, I will explore the impact that the dominant representations of the new Republican government have had on the interpretations of archaeological objects in Turkey, trying to examine this new relationship between the state and the museums through the visual representation of the past.
Savino, Melania