Herodotus Returns

Article on Tomb Raider Charles Fellows in Turkish newspaper
January 28, 2010, 10:29 am
Filed under: Anatolia | Tags: , ,

Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman has published a thorough article on British Archaeologist Charles Fellows’s mid-19th century exploits in ancient Lycia, on the Western Mediterranean, in Turkey. Fellows was famous for actually dismantling Lycian tombs and shipping them in crates back to London where they would be displayed in the British museum. The Lycians were a confederacy of fiercely independent city-states in southern Anatolia dating back to the Bronze Age, when they were allies of the Hittites.

But taking the tombs themselves? That would be most unusual. Yet this is exactly what happened in the 1840s, when British traveler Charles Fellows shipped back to London’s British Museum 105 crates of blocks and sculptures taken from the ornate collection of tombs scattered across the ancient Lycian site of Xanthos on the picturesque southwest coast of Turkey. Of course, Fellows can be seen as a thief only if judged by the laws of modern Turkey, which strictly forbids the export of such antiquities. In the mid-19th century, however, wealthy and powerful imperialist European nations such as Britain and France were adept at forcing concessions from an Ottoman Empire in terminal decline — concessions that included permits (firman) issued by the sultan allowing them to excavate, dismantle and carry off ancient remains from Anatolia (and elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire).

More on Charles Fellows from Today’s Zaman.


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