The Historiography of Ottoman Archaeology: A Terra Incognita for Turkish Archaeologists Cover Image

Osmanlı Arkeolojisinin Tarihi: Arkeologların Kazmadığı Topraklar
The Historiography of Ottoman Archaeology: A Terra Incognita for Turkish Archaeologists

Author(s): Filiz Tütüncü Çağlar
Subject(s): Archaeology, The Ottoman Empire
Published by: İzmir Kâtip Çelebi Üniversitesi, Sosyal ve Beşeri Bilimler Fakültesi
Keywords: Ottoman archaeology; historiography; history of Turkish archaeology; Osman Hamdi Bey; the Imperial Museum;

Summary/Abstract: The history of Ottoman archaeology is yet to be written. The existing scholarship is lacking an exhaustive account on the subject and is in need of a critical outlook to the current discourse. There is ample literature taken into account by Turkish historians on the history of the Ottoman Imperial Museum (Müze-i Hümayun) with a particular focus on the period following Osman Hamdi Bey’s appointment as director of the museum in 1881. Turkish archaeologists, on the other hand, have remained remote to the early history of archaeology prior to the Republican era due to practical and ideological reasons. As a result, the field has been dominated by historians, whose approaches and areas of interest greatly differ from those of archaeologists. The concentration of historiographical interest on Osman Hamdi Bey and his role in the protection of antiquities lying in the Ottoman territory has overshadowed the merits and contributions of other pioneering figures in the field, most of whom with more in-depth knowledge and substantial technical expertise on archaeology. This paper aims to draw attention to the major issues prevalent in the Turkish historiography of Ottoman archaeology and calls for expanding the sources and areas of study in the field. Writing the disciplinary history of archaeology in Turkey is not an easy task; it requires language skills – the majority of the archival sources are in Ottoman Turkish, familiarity with historical methodology as well as a good understanding of archaeological method and theory. Thus, it is essential to engage archaeologists in the field and integrate different strands of evidence obtained from both literary and archaeological sources in order to produce an accurate narrative of the history of Ottoman archaeology.

  • Issue Year: III/2017
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 109-122
  • Page Count: 14
  • Language: English