Priceless artıfacts in the antique city have been left unprotected, with local environmentalists protesting the annual closure, saying it would only encourage historical artifact smugglers.
The ancient city of Knidos has previously suffered from smuggling. The statues of “The Lion of Knidos” and “Demeter of Knidos,” were smuggled from Turkey and put on display at the British Museum, after English archaeological diggings in 1749. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is still working for their return.
With the end of the tourism season, the number of clerks at the Marmaris Museum decreased from four to two and soldiers of the Tekir temporary gendarmerie station vacated their posts. The city, 35 kilometers from Datça, is now protected only by a military police station in a village eight kilometers away.
Şanver Gür, member of Datça Environment Community, said this annual closure was encouraging smugglers, an entirely inconsistent approach to the issue given the ongoing fight to retrieve the already smuggled artifacts from Britain. Gül recalled the events of winter 1999, when an altar stone, weighing half a ton, was stolen from the city only to be found later in an open field in Marmaris.
Gür said when this occurred in 1999 the gendarmerie force had patrols in the area but still could not prevent the theft or find those responsible, indicating patrols are not the answer to the problem. “The two clerks leave at 5:30 p.m. when their shift is over. At the moment it would be possible to empty Knidos by bringing a boat to the pier,” Gür said, adding, security measures at Knidos should be immediately increased so as not to encourage thieves.
‘Let the clerks protect it’
Mustafa Kaya, a Datça local administrator, said that Knidos has not been left defenseless. “Even if the station is vacant, we have patrols in the area by car and on foot. The gendarmerie forces patrol the area a few times each day.” Kaya said it was not possible to keep the station open all year and was especially problematic during winter. “Employees of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism are there. While they are present, they are responsible for the protection of the site,” said Kaya.