Monday, August 29, 2011
Discovered in 1881 during excavations done by German engineer Charles Sester, who was assessing transport routes for the Ottomans and tried without success to find the tomb of Antiochus I, the gigantic sculptures atop Mount Nemrut (Turkish: Nemrut Dağı ; Armenian: Նեմրութ լեռ), which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List, could be moved to a museum in Kahta, Adıyaman province, according to a proposal of Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay.
Dated from the Commagene-era, 1st century BC, the sculptures have for long sustained the erosion caused by the elements and their low relief carved surfaces are prone to laminating. Plans are now underway to restore some of the more damaged pieces and to protect them from erosion.
There's controverse however concerning the best way to protect and conserve these statues.
While Günay proposes that the sculptures could be brought down from the mountain by helicopter, the ODTÜ's Commagene Nemrut Conservation and Development Program, lead by Professor Neriman Şahin Güçhan, maintains that there is no scientific evidence that the heads need to be moved in order to be preserved.
Professor Güçhan said that her team has already produced a chemical mix to protect the sculptures and that they did submit it to the Mount Nemrut Scientific Consultation Board, established on Günay's orders. She said the council has already approved the proposal. According to Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay, he still hasn't been shown the chemical mix.
Other proposals included covering the statues with a tent or glass, but weren't approved for now.
However, other archeologists, namely Necmi Karul, from the Association of Archeologists, shares the opinion that moving the sculptures might be the best option, since they have been sustaining damage for a long time and chemicals will not be enough to protect them from the elements.
The sculpters are located near the village of Karadut in the district of Kahta, 66 kilometers from Adıyaman, at an altitude of 2,206 meters. The Commagene-era figures and constructions are known variously as the "eighth wonder of the world" and "the throne of the gods." The Commagene sanctuary on Mount Nemrut Dağ was built 2,000 years ago and features colossal toppled heads of kings and gods.