An Update on Turkey’s Cultural War

Posted on January 30, 2013


Turkey is currently seeking the return of thousands of antiquities which they believe are rightfully theirs. In this pursuit, Turkish officials are using every weapon in their arsenal and inciting what they have referred to as a “cultural war.”

Turkish officials have not only threatened to halt their practice of lending archeological treasures to museums worldwide, but they have also threatened to keep foreign archaeologists off Turkish excavation sites by failing to renew the required permits.

This strategy is not new. Two years ago, Turkey banned French archaeologists from digging in Turkish sites after the Louvre in Paris declined Turkey’s requests for the museum to return various objects. The recent efforts, referred to by some as “cultural blackmail,” began as the Turkish government started to enjoy heightened diplomatic and economic influence. Officials have no intention of backing down, and have stated previously that their self-proclaimed “cultural war” will go on for years if necessary.

According to president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in Berlin, Hermann Parzinger, Turkey is “playing a nasty game of politics.” Parzinger further stated, “They are trying to blackmail us and other by pushing foreign archaeologists out. Their new tactic is to accuse of not investing enough in the infrastructure of the digs.”