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Hüseyin Burak Soy


Hüseyin Burak Soy has graduated from the Archaeology Department at Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts (MSUFA), İstanbul in 2004. During his studies there, he has worked with various Turkish and foreign archaeological projects as a student. After his graduation, he participated in the Byzantine Harbour Excavations under the auspices of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, and then worked for Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. He has completed his master’s studies in Architectural History at İstanbul Technical University in 2015, and in 2016 he has graduated from MSUFA in a master’s degree program in Classical Archaeology. In 2017, he started his studies in Settlement Archaeology Ph.D programme at Middle East Technical University, Ankara. The topic of his thesis is “The Appreciation of Classical Heritage in West Turkey: Understanding Greek Immigrant and Turkish Attitudes – A Holistic Approach”.

The Cultural Heritage Discourses told by the Elites of the Aegean Shores – From the Age of Enlightenment to Modernity

That we’ve broken their statues,
that we’ve driven them out of their temples,
doesn’t mean at all that the gods are dead.
O land of Ionia, they’re still in love with you,
their souls still keep your memory.
Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)
(Trans. Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard)

With this paper, I aim to convey the efforts made by the élite on both shores of the Aegean to impose their ideologies on the classical archaeological heritage of Aegean Turkey, whatever
they might be, but only by promoting the classical cultural heritage. The ways the élite of the Greeks and Turks employed the classical archaeological heritage for their ideologist purposes
varied widely on both sides of the Aegean, both in internal and international politics, even at times of war (of independence) against each other.

During the Greek Independence movement, which reached its climax with the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire, the Greek élite strongly promoted and repeatedly referenced the remnants of their antique past. On the other hand, in Turkey, referenced as “Hellenism without Greeks” in the Turkish nationalist literature (1), the Blue Anatolianists, secular intellectuals of the 1950s, were busily re-rooting the secular ideals of the Early Republican regime, which one can view as a re-reading of the pseudohistorical ‘Turkish History Thesis’. The touchstone was laid on the classical Greek culture as it asserted that the roots of the Greek civilization were in Anatolia.

By a thorough examination of the literary works of the Aegean élite and the Western élites over a long period of time until modern-day, I will give a more precise panorama of why and how the heritage discourses were told the way they are in Greece and Turkey and consequently explain the archaeological heritage preservation politics around the Aegean.

(1) Kenan Behzat Sharpe. (2018). Hellenism without Greeks: The Use (and Abuse) of Classical Antiquity in Turkish Nationalist Literature. Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, 5(1), 169–190.