Posted - 07/03/2006 : 17:54:48
This article from the Gulf Times of Doha, Qatar shows that religious and political meddling with ancient archaeological sites is independent of local culture:
Mediaeval inscription sparks political spat
Published: Wednesday, 14 June, 2006, 12:27 PM Doha Time
ANKARA: An inscription at a medieval dungeon translated as “Where God does not exist” caused a politically-charged spat in Turkey yesterday as the Islamist-rooted government faced accusations of having ordered the erasure of the sign.
Newspapers quoted the head of the Archaeology Museum in Bodrum, Yasar Yildiz, as saying that the culture ministry ordered the 500-year-old inscription scraped away after government inspectors decided that it had “no historical and archaeological value”.
The Latin inscription – Inde deus abest translated as “Where God does not exist” – is carved at the entrance to a dungeon in the Castle of St Peter in Bodrum, an Aegean resort popular with foreign tourists.
It is believed to have been written by the Knights of St Peter, a mediaeval order of crusaders, who built the castle in the 15th century and used the dungeon as a torture chamber.
The spat comes at a time when the government, the offshoot of the now-banned Islamist Welfare Party, is accused of seeking to raise the profile of Islam in mainly Muslim but strictly secular Turkey.
The former head of the Bodrum museum charged that the inscription had first irked the Welfare government, which ruled Turkey for a year until June 1997 when it was forced to resign for undermining the secular system.
“They wanted to eradicate it on the grounds that there cannot be a place where Allah is not present. The same mentality has taken action again,” Oguz Alpozen told Sabah.
Culture Minister Atilla Koc said yesterday that he ordered an investigation into the inscription last year, following complaints by visitors.
Koc said the inspectors concluded the inscription was not authentic and was carved in 1994 during restoration work.
A new investigation would be carried out, he said, adding that the sign would stay as it is until the probe is completed.
Museum officials had already removed a sign with the English and Turkish translations of the writing, newspapers said.
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I found the original inscription over the dungeon door to be pretty creepy. Nice Christians, were the Knights of St. Peter! They'd fit right in at Bush's White House.
“Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
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