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Allianoi print

Requiem for the Ancient Roman Spa of Allianoi, Turkey


Tragically, one of Europa Nostra’s main heritage in danger campaigns has been lost. Europa Nostra has campaigned tirelessly since 2004 together with our Turkish members and colleagues to save the ancient Roman thermal site of Allianoi. Public protests and legal battles demonstrate the measure of popular local support for Turkey’s rich cultural and archaeological heritage, and opposition to the government’s policy of making these subservient to energy and water needs. Europa Nostra has consistently pleaded in favour of developing the site’s great cultural tourism potential. We won delays but ultimately we could not prevent the flooding.

In the closing months of 2010, Europa Nostra wrote numerous letters to the highest Turkish authorities, including a personal appeal to the Prime Minister by our President Plácido Domingo. We initiated a One-Line letter writing campaign among our members and contacts, pleading for saving Allianoi. Our actions brought extensive Turkish and international media attention to the misguided plans to cover the site.

After more than ten years of archaeological digs which revealed stunning discoveries of architecture, mosaics, sculptures and artifacts, as well as new evidence of Roman lifestyle and healing practices, the Turkish authorities called a halt to the scientific and historical research and locked out the experts and the public from the site. From April until the autumn, they covered the site with sand and at the end of 2010 they started filling the reservoir behind the Yortanli dam. Allianoi will thus spend at least the next 50 years under 30m of water and a build-up of an estimated 18m of silt.

We may have lost this battle, but this campaign did bring gains. In the longer stride of campaigning to save Turkey’s exceptional cultural heritage, the authorities will have learned that archaeological explorations of a site must be made BEFORE locating potentially destructive engineering works. Secondly, the vigorous Allianoi campaign acted as a rallying factor for Turkey’s heritage community and it raised general public awareness of the issues involved. Thirdly, the protests and actions delayed the flooding of Allianoi, allowing archaeologists to continue their work of discovery, longer than originally thought. And lastly, when the authorities moved to commence the flooding, faced with so much public outcry, protective measures were put in place which will hopefully contribute to saving Allianoi for future, more “heritage-conscious” generations in Turkey.



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Allianoi about to be sacrificed!

Last stand for Allianoi in Turkey

Can 35.000 signatures save Allianoi?




PDF Icon Letter to the President of Turkey

PDF Icon International Allianoi-Hasankeyf Declaration

PDF Icon Stop the Flooding of Allianoi!



Heritage in Danger Allianoi on Flickr




Euronews - Preserving the Future

The Guardian - Turkish dam threatens town that dates back to the bronze age - Turkey: Roman Ruins Lost amid Economic Development

Hürriyet - Claims of negligence rise along with Allianoi water in Turkey

CNN - Turkish dam plan threatens 'remarkable' Roman ruins

The Art Newspaper - Why the Roman spa town of Allianoi must be saved

The Guardian - Roman remains at risk from Turkey's dam building

The Christian Science Monitor - Dams power Turkey's future, but drown its rich history

RFI - Sites archéologiques en péril

France 24 - Ancient Roman spa awaits flooding in Turkey

Le Monde - En Turquie, les thermes d'Allianoi condamnés par un barrage

3 Sat - Die antike Kurstadt Allianoi wird geflutet

Hürriyet - Turkey's Changemakers: Ahmet Yaras fights to protect 2200-year-old historical heritage

Hürriyet - Sand, grout start moving into ancient Allianoi

Hürriyet - Good news: as the government insists the environmental movement grows

BBC - Uncertain Future for Ancient Spa

Hürriyet - Allianoi is our business