'Restoration efforts,' Armenian Church of Surb Khach (Holy Cross), on Aght'amar Island, Lake Van, eastern Turkey
DAMAGE TO ANI BETWEEN 2006 AND 2007
Those Employed to Guard Ani are Destroying Ani
During the 1980s and 1990s, when the whole site of Ani was under the full control of the Turkish Army, very little damage was done to the remains as a result of the activities of treasure hunters. This was in marked contrast to most other archaeological sites in Turkey.
In 2004, as a result of a decision made by the Turkish Ministry of Defence, the responsibility for the day-to-day control of the Ani archaeological site was passed from the Turkish Army to the Turkish Ministry of Culture. The immediate effect of this was that it was now possible to travel to Ani without needing a permit, photography within the site was now permitted, and only a token number of soldiers would now patrol the site.
Part of the conditions set by the Turkish army before allowing this hand-over was that civilian guards had to be appointed to supervise the site and replace the duties previously performed by the soldiers. These guards are not actually employees of the Ministry of Culture because the task of guarding Ani was subcontracted to a Kars-based business.
All the guards are inhabitants of Ocakli village, located just outside Ani's walls. At night they use their position of authority to roam the ruins at will, digging anywhere they think may contain treasure. The following photographs document some of the damage they have done. All of this destruction took place between August 2006 and August 2007.
DAMAGE TO ANI BETWEEN 2007 AND 2008
Renewed destructive activities by the
Turkish Ministry of Culture
In the 1990s, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey was responsible for a "restoration" of the defensive walls of Ani that inflicted irreparable damage to them. In 2008 the Ministry of Culture renewed its destructive activities at Ani. Buildings throughout the site suddenly sprouted steel columns painted bright red. Ostensibly these columns are to help support and preserve the monuments. In reality they do no such thing - they are a visual disfigurement and in some cases have done actual damage to the structures.
The columns may be part of a deception to persuade visitors to Ani that actions are being taken to preserve the monuments. If, however, they are genuinely intended to help preserve the monuments, then their use demonstrates an astonishing lack of understanding about the structural identity of those monuments.
The churches at Ani have a solid concrete core (c
Credit: james_gordon_losangeles / Flickr