Friday, February 24, 2012

Covering the past?

Take a look at the Hasankeyf Great Mosque, before and after restoration. 

Hasankeyf Great Mosque, 2010 (before)
The new masonry work is a reminder of the controversial restoration of the Theodosian Walls in Istanbul.  The difference now is that there is no mechanism for independent scholarly evaluation of the Hasankeyf restoration plan.

Pursuing historical authenticity with scholarly exactitude, archeologists tend to prefer conservation over reconstruction.
Their ideal is anastylosis (p. 43) – using only dismembered parts of the original structure.

Hasankeyf Great Mosque, 2012 (after)
Indeed, the international conservation standards organization ICOMOS has rejected reconstruction as a means of historical preservation since 1964.

Others argue, however, that reconstructions give visitors a more vivid impression of the building’s original impact, attract larger crowds and, hence, support a better funding model.  The Artukid Great Mosque at Dunaysir is an example of how reconstructed buildings can be put back to work with new stones, as seen in this Kızıltepe Müftülüğü slide show.  More photos, some depicting the restoration process, at ArchNet.

Old and new stonework, Hasankeyf Great Mosque, 2012
Hasankeyf Great Mosque, 2010 (before)
Word has it that the next project for the restoration team working at Hasankeyf Castle is the main palace, of which very little remains.  How will they settle on a plan? Might the restoration somehow shed light on the design of the main palace at different historical periods – Byzantine, Artukid, and Ayyubid?  



  1. John,

    When a few years ago UNESCO was threatening to downgrade Istanbul's status as a World Heritage Site, one of the reasons cited was the restoration of the Theodosian Walls which were described in a report as being more reminiscent of a Hollywood set than the ancient walls that they are. Since that time, there has been a project of training of workers to continue the restoration in line with ICOMOS standards.

  2. Thank you, Senior Dogs, let's take a walk soon along the Walls and see how things are going. The IBB has highlighted improved working relationship with UNESCO . And the success of facilities like Miniatürk and İstanbul 1453 Panoramic Museum alongside the popularity of Ottoman-themed productions (Muhteşem Yüzyıl and Fetih 1453) make reconstruction an attractive proposition from some perspectives. I wonder if there's a way for digital media to make the "authenticity" of piles of rocks more "accessible" to visitors.