The collapse of a part of a 5th century Byzantine wall in the Topkapı neighbourhood of Istanbul this week has intensified concern about the upkeep of a wide range of ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine sites in Turkey, Greek Reporter said.
The walls once saved Istanbul, formerly named Constantinople, from several sieges by the Avar-Sasanian coalition, Arabs, Russians and Bulgars. It finally fell to the Ottomans in 1453 after a six-week siege as the age of cannons rendered the fortifications vulnerable.
Greek Reporter said Pierre Antoine Colombier, a French enthusiast of ancient history and art, had drawn up a list of many Greek sites in Turkey that have now fallen into disrepair. He said he was initially startled by the poor state of the monuments, finally concluding after open source research that they had been abandoned.
Sites in western Turkey are better maintained, but in Anatolia it is “a completely different story”, Colombier said.
“Some major cities of the Byzantine Empire and Christianity are neglected, and ancient Nicaea/Iznik is a good example of this,” he said.
Rather than deliberately seeking to destroy the sites by neglect, Turkey lacks the financial resources for repair and upkeep, Colombier said.
“Some in Turkey may want to do this, but they are a minority,” he said, according to Greek Reporter. “Turkey lacks the resources to invest in its own economy and its own people, so it is unlikely it will invest for a heritage they may not even care about.”