The final collapse of Byzantium

29 Nisan 2009 - 00:00Son Güncelleme : 28 Nisan 2009 - 18:48

ISTANBUL - More than half of the Byzantine buildings in the Marmara region have been damaged, according to a report released yesterday by a volunteer group, the Archaeological Settlements of Turkey Project, or TAY.

There are 336 buildings in the area dating from Byzantium that have been severely damaged, TAY coordinator Oğuz Satıcı said in a press conference on the group’s report, "Archeological Destruction in Turkey, 2008, Marmara RegionĞByzantine Period." The region contains more than 450 buildings that were created the Byzantines. In Istanbul, Satıcı added, more than 160 buildings from the Byzantine period have been exposed to damage. The TAY team has found 36 buildings or remnants in the area that were not detected before.

TAY is composed of academics who voluntarily document and assess the damage done to archeological sites in Turkey. Around 20 volunteers worked for five years to document the data for the new report.

The majority of the damage is done due to urban construction at the hands of the state, Satıcı said. The building of new settlements accounts for 33 percent of the damage while the construction of highways, roads and bridges creates 20 percent. Natural causes make up 19 percent, while secondary usage, such as using an old monastery as a sheep pen or a depot, causes 12 percent of the destruction.

An authority gap in the protection of Byzantine-period buildings causes irreversible damage, said Engin Akyürek, a member of the TAY team and an academic from Istanbul University.

The TAY report shows how historic buildings or their remnants have become almost invisible as they have been used for other purposes or become seriously damaged. Boğdan Palace is one example. The entrance of the palace, which is part of a 13th-century Byzantine church located on Draman Street in the Fatih district, is being used as a tire repair shop.

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