Diplomat Archaeologists’ Inquiries into Antiquities in Cyprus During the Second Half of the 19th CenturyGürsoy Şahin
This study investigates the inquiries into antiquities from American and European diplomat archaeologists working in ancient historical areas of Cyprus during the second half of the 19th century. Between the 1850s and 1870s, the diplomat archaeologists who were active in Cyprus archaeology transferred the collections they’d gathered to European museums and enriched them, sometimes acting friendly and other times acting in a spirit of cutthroat competition. The Ottoman authorities enacted the Law of Antiquities in 1869 and 1874 under this circumstance in order to prevent antiquities in the country from being looted. In this scope, they transferred a portion of the works that had been obtained from the excavation on the island of Cyprus to the Müze-i Hümâyun [Imperial Museum] in Istanbul. After this, England took over the governance of Cyprus in 1878, with all the antiquities on the island falling into the possession of the English Government.
XIX. Yüzyılın İkinci Yarısında Kıbrıs’ta Diplomat Arkeologların Eski Eser AraştırmalarıGürsoy Şahin
Çalışmada kadim bir geçmişe sahip olan Kıbrıs’ta XIX. yüzyılın ikinci yarısında görev yapan Amerikalı ve Avrupalı diplomatların eski eser araştırmaları irdelendi. 1850’ler ve 1870’ler arasında Kıbrıs arkeolojisinde etkin olan diplomat arkeologlar, kimi zaman dostça kimi zaman da kıyasıya bir rekabet ruhu içerisinde hareket ederek topladıkları koleksiyonları Avrupa müzelerine naklederek buraları zenginleştirdiler. Bu durum karşısında Osmanlı makamları, ülkedeki eski eserlerin yağmalanmasını önlemek amacıyla 1869’da ve 1874’te Eski Eser Nizamnamelerini yürürlüğe koydu. Bu kapsamda adadaki kazılar sonucunda elde edilen eserlerden bir kısmını İstanbul’a Müze-i Hümâyun’a nakletti. 1878’de Kıbrıs’ın yönetiminin İngiltere’ye geçmesinden sonra ise adadaki bütün eski eserlerin tasarrufu İngiliz Hükümetine geçmiş oldu.
Located at the intersection of Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Cyprus is one of the ancient residential areas of the Mediterranean region. With its first settlement dating back to 9000 BC, the island appears like an outdoor museum with a history coming from the Byzantines, the House of Lusignan, the Venetians, and the Ottomans. Due to this feature, Cyprus became a center of attention for European and American investigators of antiquities during the 19th century.
This study examines the activities of diplomats from countries such as America, England, France, Italy, Austria-Hungary, and Denmark who investigated or bought antiquities in Cyprus during the second half of the 19th century. Similarly, the study also reveals the Ottoman State’s policy toward investigations into antiquities on the island of Cyprus.
The Ottoman archival documents show that consuls or vice-consuls from France, the United States of America, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Denmark, and England had bought antiquities on the island or requested permission from the Ottoman government for performing investigations. In this sense, diplomat archaeologists including the French consul Tiburce Colonna-Ceccaldi, the English vice-consul Robert Hamilton Lang, the Italian consul Riccardo Colucci, and the American consul Luigi Palma di Cesnola can be ranked among the most popular names to have made investigations into antiquities on the island. These names played very important roles in transferring antiquities from the island to different countries around the world. These diplomat archaeologists searched for works using their own means on the island and sold or donated the works they had found to museums in Europe and America.
Interest in the island’s ancient history during the 19th century formed a part of the Western point of view that is more closely interested in classical and Near East antiquities. The emergence of Hellenism as an academic tradition and the changes in the perceptions related to the antiquities of Cyprus in light of new archaeological discoveries were shaped in an intellectual environment that went beyond national borders. Although the antiquity rivalry among diplomat archaeologists in Cyprus in the 19th century clearly had nationalist implications, it was generally accompanied by important collaborations among individual researchers, collectors, and scholars. The consuls who were actively involved in Cyprus archaeology between the 1850s and 1870s sometimes acted friendly and other times acted in a spirit of cutthroat competition on behalf of their own nations. Moreover, they made personal contacts by collaborating with each other as well as with their colleagues in Western Europe and America. Meanwhile some researchers also carried out inquiries into antiquities for various financial motivations in addition to their sense of duty to their own governments.
The Ottoman government issued the first Law of Antiquities in 1869 in order to regulate the inquiries into antiquities in different regions of the empire. However, preventing antiquities from being exported was impossible despite the legal regulation. The American consul Cesnola who was in charge in Cyprus exported a great number of antiquities in 1872 as if challenging the 1869 regulation; this led the Ottoman Government to take new precautions. In this sense, a more comprehensive Law of Antiquities was prepared in 1874, with the Ottoman administrators being prompted by the increase in requests from diplomat archaeologists and by the great number of works being transferred abroad. As the American consul Cesnola in particular was transferring antiquities piece by piece from the island, the Director of the Imperial Museum Dr. Philipp Anton Dethier went to Cyprus and was assigned personally by legal regulation to have a share of the works the American consul possessed. A great number of works were transported to the Imperial Museum in Istanbul in this way.
Control over the antiquities on the island also was transferred to the English government when the administration of Cyprus was temporarily transferred to England in 1878. For more than 20 years after this, the Ottoman Law of Antiquities that had been enacted in 1874 was maintained on the island. This law ensured that a significant portion of the excavated finds were received by the English government. In 1882, an official committee composed of the Cadi [magistrate] of Cyprus, the Mufti of Cyprus, and the Archbishop of Cyprus presented a petition to the English High Commissioner for the establishment of a museum on the island. As a result, the English administrative officers ensured the opening of a museum belonging to Cyprus on the island in 1888.
The Ottoman government felt great discomfort upon hearing about antiquities being transported from the island to England in the forthcoming period. While some of the antiquities that were unearthed as a result of the excavation on the island were held for the Cyprus Museum, a large portion were sent to the British Museum in London. The issue was presented to the English government by means of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on August 16, 1892. The Ottoman government reminded England that it was also required to give a portion of the antiquities excavated on the island to the Müze-i Hümâyun [Imperial Museum]. However, nothing fruitful likely came of this attempt.