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When history meets tourism: 2018 The Year of Troy

When history meets tourism: 2018 The Year of Troy

Turkey invests a lot in the protection and enhancement of the sites that still tell us the millennial history of this territory, which has seen the succession of many civilizations: Hittites, Urartians, Phrygians, Thracians, Persians, Lycians, Lydians, Greeks and Romans, and then Byzantines, Seljuchides, and Ottomans. Civilizations that have left a deep trace of their works and their creations and have gifted today’s generations with an extraordinary historical and artistic heritage.

There are over 17,000 sites scattered throughout the territory divided into archaeological sites, urban sites, and historical and mixed sites. Turkey, considering its cultural heritage as a universal heritage, in 1982 ratified the UNESCO Convention. There are currently 18 sites registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List and another 77 sites are part of the Tentative List.

The Culture and Information Office of the Embassy of Turkey in Italy organized a special event at the Mediterranean Exchange of Archaeological Tourism of Paestum from November 15-18, 2018 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the inclusion of Paestum and Troy on the list of UNESCO World Heritage.

“Troy, the History of a City from Mythology to Archeology” conference was led by Prof. Rüstem Aslan, director of the excavation of the archaeological site of Troy and professor of archeology at the University of Canakkale, moderated by Andreas M. Steiner, Director of Archeo magazine, who recently published a monograph on Turkish archaeological sites. This gave eTN the opportunity to interview Mrs. Serra Aytun Roncaglia, director of the Culture and Information Office of the Embassy of Turkey in Rome.

Mrs. Serra Aytun Roncaglia

eTN: Director, 2018 was appointed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey as the “Year of Troy.” Turkey brings back to life the protagonists of the epic poems Iliad and Odyssey and the equally legendary Trojan Horse. It evokes memories of the scholastic period that the poet Homer inspired.

True! Homer’s epic poems Iliad and Odyssey are still a source of inspiration for millions of people around the world. Troy is a legend universally known and, for over two millennia, a source of inspiration for Western and Eastern culture. Troy, located near the city of Canakkale on the Strait of the Dardanelles, has been for centuries an important commercial center thanks to its strategic position, but also the theater of one of the most famous wars of antiquity. It is certainly one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world.

eTN: How big is the territory of Troy today, and what are the attractions for visitors?

Troy is not limited to the archaeological site, it is also a national park of 144,000 square meters with several attractions such as the Tumulus of Achilles and Ajax, several ancient settlements, perfect nature, beaches and stunning views. Around the national park, there are more internationally renowned archaeological sites such as Alexandria Troade, Asso, Apollo Sminteo, Pario, Mount Ida, to name only few of them. Here the visitor can really “walk within the history” and take advantage of a nature that is perfect for lovers of trekking and the sea.

eTN: What are the main events organized for the “2018 Year of Troy?”

The 2018 events included international conferences and meetings, both in Turkey and abroad, of which four conducted by Prof. Rüstem Aslan last September, in Rome, Milan and one November 17 in Paestum, as mentioned earlier.

The recent opening of the Troy Museum a month ago is certainly the most important event of this year’s program. The new museum allows visitors to better understand the Troas territory, the fascinating archaeological site not easy to understand as it was built on many layers over previous old constructions.

The Museum reunite and displays a collection of objects found here and held in various museums, including the Archaeological Museums of Istanbul. There are also 24 early Bronze Age gold artifacts, returned to Turkey thanks to the University of Pennsylvania (USA) collaboration and our Ministry’s commitment based on the principles that Turkey wants and prefers that the cultural heritage of a country be exposed in their place of origin.

eTN: This indication of love and respect for the future generations requires a sound investment.

Of course, the organizational and financial commitment of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey for the museum sector is very generous. There are 198 museums under the auspices of the Directorate General of Museums and Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey including the Archaeological Museums of Istanbul, founded in 1891. The other great archaeological museum of Turkey is located in Ankara and is the world-famous Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, whose collections documents the history of Anatolia from its origins to the Roman age. In recent years, many museums have been renovated, have arisen or planned to arise, just like the new Trojan Museum.

eTN: At what level is the Italy-Turkey archaeological collaboration?

There are 118 excavations managed by Turkish missions and 32 sites managed by foreign missions in collaboration with Turkish teams (2017 data). The collaboration between Turkish and Italian institutions in the archaeological sector is of great importance and has been active for decades. Currently there are 7 Italian archaeological missions in Turkey supported by our Ministry: the mission of Usakli Höyük in Yozgat of the University of Florence, that of Yumuktepe in Mersin of the University of Lecce, that of Kinik Höyük in Nigde of the University of Pavia, the mission of Arslantepe in Malatya of La Sapienza Rome University, that of Karkamıs in Gaziantep of the University of Bologna, the mission to ElaiussaSebaste in Mersin of La Sapienza University and the mission to Hierapolis, Denizli, of the University of Lecce, active since 1957.

eTN: Will there be fireworks to celebrate the closing of 2018 Year of Troy?

The entire program sparkled as a great firework. The last one unlighted the debut of a new opera titled “Troy” presented on November 9th at the Ankara Congresium Opera and is certainly one of the most important productions of the Directorate General of Opera and Ballet (DOB) of Turkey 2018, directed by the tenor Murat Karahan, also artistic director of “Troy”. The work was conceived in two acts, eight scenes, in a scenic and musical installation that includes chorus, music and ballet. It took three and a half months for the conductor and composer Bujor Hoinic, with the collaboration of the son Artun Hoinic, to complete the production of the work.

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