Archaeological excavations in İzmir that have made great contributions to the city’s culture and tourism, currently face the obstacle of obtaining a sponsorship contract.
The Agora, Kadifekale’s ancient theater, Yeşilova, Foça, Altınpark and Bayraklı excavations that were set to start six months ago are still waiting for approval from the Culture and Tourism Ministry. Archaeologists have gone unpaid for six months. Some are now unemployed.
The main sponsor of the excavations is the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality, with the İzmir Trade Chamber and local municipalities providing additional support. The sponsorship agreement is renewed by the Culture and Tourism Ministry every year.
But the budget provided by the ministry is enough for three months at most. It is impossible to maintain excavations without sponsors.
While a sponsorship contract has been approved by the ministry in the neighboring province of Manisa, the İzmir excavations protocol has not been signed yet, drawing heavy criticism from residents and local officials.
The people of İzmir say the situation is hurting the development of the city’s culture and tourism. “Six months have been wasted. Any disagreement should be solved urgently. İzmir is a city of tourism. Tourists come here to see history. The more artifacts unearthed, the more tourists we welcome,” they say.
People who are living in the vicinity of an ancient theater, which lies within the boundaries of the Kubilay neighborhood in the outskirts of Kadifekale, are waiting for the theater to be unearthed as soon as possible.
Kubilay neighborhood head Ünal Kalfa said that the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality had made very large investments by paying millions of Turkish Liras in expropriation prices for the opening of the ancient theater, and added, “Not only those living here but also all people of İzmir will take advantage of this support.
Japanese and European tourists already come to our neighborhood to see the theater. We hope that excavations will start soon.”