Excavations on some historical sites are not being carried out properly and the Culture and Tourism Ministry is not even sure if excavations are still continuing on others, the head of the ministry has said.
"If the excavation heads and professors who are not excited about the excavations any longer or are just carrying on their duties in a monotonous manner will let us, we will look for excavation heads who are more excited and enthusiastic to improve the conditions at the excavation sites both physically and scientifically," Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay told the Anatolia news agency.
Noting that he has visited many excavation sites, the minister said he respected excavation leaders who care for their excavations and the antiquities they find like children and who attempt to improve the situation of their sites.
Turkey a favored site
There are currently 134 excavation projects being carried out in Turkey -- 90 by local teams and 44 by foreign teams. More than 100 surface research projects are under way.
In the excavation projects carried out by Turkish teams, the majority of the excavation heads are professors from İstanbul University and Ankara University. Currently most excavation heads are from Ankara University.
Excavation projects in Turkey are also greatly preferred by foreign universities and institutions, with German excavators making up the majority of foreign teams in Turkey. In Aizanoi, Didyma, Troia, Alexandria Troas, Boğazköy, Doliche, Göbeklitepe, Milet, Oymaağaç, Pergamon, Pompeipolis, Priene and Sirkelihöyük excavations are being led by German archaeologists.
Cooperation with local authorities
A new regulation was recently implemented to grant local administrations more room to participate in excavations. So long as excavations are done under the supervision of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, excavation heads maintain their authority and the directives concerning proper site maintenance are applied, local administrations will be able to finance excavations in exchange for shares in future tourist revenues.
Some archeologists have been critical of the new regulation, saying it may lead to the abuse of Turkey's cultural heritage. But Günay defended the regulation, saying: "A municipality comes up and says they can allocate some money to contribute to the excavations. Why shouldn't we cooperate with them? Why shouldn't a local administration, which the state allows to control billions of dollars in resources, share the expense of excavations, restorations and museum construction and take a little from the ticket profits? What we want is to protect our cultural assets." He added that the ministry's capabilities are limited and that more sites can be excavated this way.