Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cultural Nationalism Bites German Archaeologists

American archaeologists have been generally supportive of  the repatriation efforts of countries like Egypt, Turkey, Greece and Italy.  Although they may claim that they are disinterested experts that only support repatriation for moral reasons, the fact is their careers may very well depend on excavation permits issued by the cultural bureaucracies of these same countries.

But now the same cultural nationalism that has motivated Turkey's recent repatriation claims appears to have led the Turkish cultural bureaucracy to force German archaeologists out from excavations at Troy.   See  Although the above article points to "financial problems" as the reason German archaeologists are leaving the site, it also suggests that Turkey ultimately wants to replace German archaeologists with Turkish ones.   Moreover, other sources suggest that move is part of a larger dispute between German state museums and Turkey over repatriation demands for artifacts in their collections.  See

Indeed, as quoted in the above article, a Turkish minister has stated quite bluntly, "Turkey has new universities, new archaeological institutes, not to mention engaged and successful archaeologists....When we don't see the cooperation we hope for in this area, then we won't hesitate to transfer digs to our own universities."

For now, American archaeologists' careers at Troy and other Turkish sites appear safe.  But one can only imagine that Turkish authorities expect unqualified support from American archaeologists for their recent repatriation claims against US Museums.  See

And what of the 1970 UNESCO benchmark that the AIA hoodwinked American museums into accepting in order to buy peace?   That "safe harbor" has evidently suddenly become all but forgotten given what one reads about Turkey's claims in the archaeological blogosphere.

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