Absence of the Turkish archaeology institute has been long mentioned by the archaeology world and academic circles. After Prof. Dr. Isin Yalcinkaya brought back this issue at the 36th International Excavation, Research and Archeometry Symposium held in June 2014, Fatma Sahin, the Metropolitan Mayor of Gaziantep, sent a letter to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Republic of Turkey and the first step towards establishment of the Turkish Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage was taken.
The project of Turkish Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, designed by Hale Ural and Hakan Tanriover who were appointed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Republic of Turkey for establishment of the Institute, was presented to the Ministry of European Union and accepted in January 2015, and the project introduction meeting was held by Volkan Bozkir, the then Minister of European Union.
Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Republic of Turkey, Fatma Sahin, the Metropolitan Mayor of Gaziantep, Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Foreign Minister of Republic of Turkey, Nadir Alpaslan, the Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism of Republic of Turkey, Ulas Gonen Kirli, the Head of the Department of European Union and Foreign Affairs of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Republic of Turkey, Hakan Erturk, the Head of the Central Finance and Contracts Unit of the Ministry of Treasury and Finance of Republic of Turkey, Seda Erden, the Program Manager from EU Turkish Delegation, Engin Yarahmet, the Project Manager in the Central Finance and Contracts Unit of the Ministry of Treasury and Finance of Republic of Turkey assumed important roles both in the establishment and progress of this project on behalf of the organizations they serve.
The project of the Turkish Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage started to be implemented in December 2018. The 'Contract Authority' is Central Finance and Contracts Unit; the 'Main Beneficiary' is the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Republic of Turkey, and the "Project Partner" is the Metropolitan Municipality of Gaziantep.
A DREAM HAS COME TRUE IN TURKISH ARCHAEOLOGY
Built under the leadership of Hale Ural and Hakan Tanriover, the technical team started to make efforts with all their strength to bring the Institute, which has been dreamed of for more than a hundred years, to life. The technical team continues to make efforts towards the goals and activities of the Institute, and action for the restoration of the historical Kendirli Church and Latin School (Kendirli Complex), which was allocated for the Institute by Fatma Sahin, has also been taken.
The activities at every part and stage of the project are carried out by teams of 65 fully-competent experts consisting of scientists, culture-artists, bureaucrats, artists, who have distinguished themselves in their fields of expertise, with 430 members in total. Hale Ural and Hakan Tanrıover, the Project Coordinators of Turkish Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, Levent Erkan from the Project Management team, Asli Gulgor, the Project Director, Prof. Dr. Nevzat Cevik, the Technical Team Leader, Prof. Dr. Kutalmis Gorkay and Guniz Atis Azrak, the Key Experts, set out to design an institute ideal for Turkey through intensive consultation processes.
During this process, the legal framework of the Institute was designed by Prof. Dr. Aydin Gulan and Mehmet Bulbul. Kendirli Complex, which was designed as the center of the Institute, was restored under the supervision of Architect Onur Ozbasbug and Gokhan Berk; the Archeometry Laboratory in the Kendirli Complex, which was brought back to life with new functions by the architect Levent Cirpici, was also designed by Cirpici. The road map of the laboratory is being established under the consultancy of Prof. Dr. Rana Ozbal, and equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to serve the whole Turkey.
DESIGNED STEP BY STEP
The training programs were designed by prominent scientists-educationist such as Prof. Dr. Nevzat Cevik, Prof. Dr. Kutalmis Gorkay, Prof. Dr. Edibe Sozen, Prof. Dr. Fahri Temizyurek and Assoc. Dr. Rana Ozbal. Efforts were made towards exhibiting 27 artifacts under the leadership of prominent names on the Editorial Board such as Dogan Hizlan, Mehmet Ulusel, Fahri Aral and Asim Erverdi, while the Institute was still at the project stage. The communication of the activities of the Institute was carried out under the leadership of Ali Saydam.
The efforts towards establishment of the Turkish Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, which was brought to life with the support of the European Union, were announced at the Project Launch held in Gaziantep on February 29, 2019 with broad participation. Afterwards, the scientists, the closest stakeholders, were informed about the vision and mission of the Institute project at the 40th International Excavation, Research and Archeometry Symposium held in Diyarbakır. The opinions of academics, who are very valuable for the development of the Institute from a scientific point of view, were received in writing.
SET OUT WITH THE EXPERTS IN THE RELEVANT FIELDS
Significant exchange of ideas has been continuing at the meetings held with the directors of the institutes and research centers in Turkey, which focus on archaeology and pertain to the missions in Turkey and other countries, since the establishment of the Institute. The road map of the laboratories within the Institute was established at a Search Conference participated by the representatives of all relevant institutions in the field of archeometry in Turkey. The Search Conference was participated by the representatives of the following institutions: General Directorate of Cultural Heritage Museums, Istanbul University, METU, ITU, Faculty of Language, History and Geography of Ankara University, Mimar Sinan University, Hacettepe University, Ankara University, Batman University and Fatih Sultan Mehmet University, TTK, TUBA, TUBITAK, MAM, MTA, Manuscript Institution of Turkey.
Consultations as part of the efforts towards establishment and development of the Institute are still ongoing with numerous scientists, civil servants, non-governmental organizations, artists and bureaucrats through various meetings and one-on-one interviews.
KENDIRLI BECOMES A CULTURE COMPLEX
Church and Latin School, allocated as the center of the Turkish Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage and being home to the Archeometry Laboratory, Archaeology Specialization Library, Turcology Library and event areas, is located in the city center of Gaziantep.
After Kendirli Church became unserviceable, which was built by the Catholic Armenians from Gaziantep in 1860, it was started to be rebuilt in 1898 and inaugurated with a great ceremony in 1900.
The building was used as a 'shelter' during the siege of Antep, which lasted for 10 months in 1920-1921, and later served as a movie theater, community center, teacherage, Anatolian Tourism and Hotel Management High School and then Gazi Cultural Center, and has always been the meeting point for the people of Gaziantep.
When Gazi Mustafa Kemal Ataturk visited the city for Ramadan Feast in 1933, he made a speech to the people of Gaziantep at the balcony of Kendirli. The following words of Ataturk were engraved on the wall of Kendirli to honor the memory of that day, which has a sentimental value: “How can I not kiss the eyes of the people of Gaziantep; they saved not only Gaziantep but also Turkey.”
Started in January 2019, the restoration took two years after Kendirli was allocated to Turkish Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage. During the restoration, which was executed by a team of experts with due diligence and project designing of which was undertaken by the architects Levent Cirpici, Gokhan Berk and Onur Ozbasbug, two concrete slabs and eight layers of mortar were removed and the original frescoes were unearthed.
At the end of the activities, Kendirli has turned into a complex hosting the exhibition and conference hall and offices of the Institute and the Archaeology Specialization Library, Turcology Library, Archeometry Laboratory and event areas.