Turkey: Investigation over 'ruined' Roman mosaics

Before and after images of the mosaics Image copyright Mehmet Daskapan
Image caption "Unforgivable errors" were made in restoring the original (left) mosaics, Mr Daskapan says

Turkey's culture ministry is investigating reports that a number of valuable Roman mosaics were badly damaged during botched restoration work at an archaeological museum, according to Turkish media.

Authorities are looking into the claims of a local craftsman who raised concerns over the condition of at least 10 mosaics at the Hatay Archaeology Museum, the Hurriyet Daily News website reports. Mehmet Daskapan first spoke out in an interview with a local paper in February, but the news was only picked up by mainstream Turkish media on Monday. "Valuable pieces from the Roman period have been ruined," Mr Daskapan told the Antakya Gazetesi website at the time. "They have become caricatures of their former selves. Some are in an especially poor condition and have lost their originality and value."

Before and after photos of the mosaics presented by Mr Daskapan show the "restored" versions looking significantly different to the originals. Some stones appear to have been replaced with different colours and shapes, changing the facial expressions of the characters depicted. A report on the Radikal website has suggested the images could have been Photoshopped, but the site later noted that the region's governor had nonetheless closed off the section housing the mosaics in question.

As a precaution, Turkey's culture ministry has suspended all restoration work at the site, which houses mosaics dating from the 2nd Century to the 6th Century AD, the website says. In December, the museum opened a huge new building, and curators are currently in the process of moving artefacts into the space. When the move is complete, it will devote 5,000 sq m (54,000 sq ft) to displaying mosaics.

Turkish media have likened the episode to an elderly Spanish woman's attempt to restore a Jesus Christ fresco in 2012. The finished product, on the wall of a church near Zaragoza, looked nothing like the original image.

Image copyright Mehmet Daskapan
Image caption Before (left) and after (right) images appear to show significant differences in the mosaics

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