Carved in Stone is a project that combines the expertise of the British Council, Turkish and British academics, the Fethiye NGO FETAV, and Turkish teachers.

Carved in Stone: safeguarding the future of Turkey’s past
Rock Tombs carved into the mountain overlooking Fethiye

Using the latest technology, recordings are being made of Turkey’s vulnerable rock-cut reliefs. In addition, teachers are training to use drama, games and other educational resources to encourage their students to connect with their past.

Through this community-based heritage education the project plans to change attitudes to cultural heritage in Turkey.

Carved in Stone: safeguarding the future of Turkey’s past
Rock tombs on the Lycian Way

The pilot study for this project, one that will eventually be rolled out across the country, and will include the public at large, is the second project to involve FETAV and Liverpool University.

What is the Carved in Stone project?

Dr. Alan Greaves, senior lecturer in the Department of Archaeology, Classics, and Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, explained what the Carved in Stone project is about and what it is bringing to Turkey in general and Fethiye in particular.

Poster for the Carved in Stone Project in Fethiye

“Building on the previous FETAV-University of Liverpool project, Illuminating the Land of Lights, the Carved in Stone project is a two pronged approach to counter the extensive looting and destruction of ancient rock carvings across Turkey.”

Greaves described how it involves various communities at all levels: “The first part of the project is to train local archaeologists and museum staff in new digital techniques to record the monuments before they are damaged or stolen. The second is to educate the public about their own heritage, how to protect it, and how to report theft and damage to the proper authorities.”

He added that it is an honour and a pleasure to be working with FETAV again, on this the second major international collaborative project. He continued: “I have the greatest respect for the professionalism of the people I am working with at FETAV and their commitment to our shared aims – to protect Turkey’s unique heritage and at the same time benefit the people of Fethiye.”

Who is involved in the Fethiye project?

Carved in Stone: safeguarding the future of Turkey’s past
Aslı Toprak (left) and Gülşen Yegen (right) spoke on local TV about the project

Working on the project in Fethiye are Aslı Toprak and Gülşen Yegen. Both education officers for FETAV, Toprak is working on the written content for the project while Yegen, a retired university lecturer, is responsible for teaching the drama and museum education training courses to teachers from pre-school to high schools and implementing the project through community based education activities.

Teaching how to bring Turkey’s past alive

Carved in Stone: safeguarding the future of Turkey’s past
Learning about Turkey’s ancient past

Toprak described how this part of the project works: “Reusable educational materials have been designed and are being used to promote awareness of cultural heritage. These include a teacher’s pack and 30 educational games for age groups ranging from 5 to 15. All the materials and games are bilingual – we are using both English and Turkish.”

Carved in Stone: safeguarding the future of Turkey’s past
Making history fun

Approximately 30 volunteers will learn how to use the education resources with children and families and train around 100 teachers how to use the education resources with groups of school students. The training also includes how to use drama as an education medium, using drama as a teaching technique in schools and museums.

Carved in Stone: safeguarding the future of Turkey’s past
Teachers using drama to bring history alive

The training sessions are currently taking place in the Halk Eğitim Merkezi (Community Education Centre) and in the Fethiye Archaeology Museum. These courses will continue during April and May. Due to the number of participants FETAV is also offering training sessions for English speaking groups.

Carved in Stone: safeguarding the future of Turkey’s past
Teachers using drama to bring history alive

Yegen is a highly experienced teacher who, coincidentally, studied museum education for her doctorate. Her enthusiasm for the subject is infectious and watching her interact with the teachers quickly reveals her passion for the subject.

Carved in Stone: safeguarding the future of Turkey’s past
Gülşen Yemen sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm

She explains:  “When I’m telling the stories of the ancient times, of gods, goddesses and so on, I can see how the faces of my teachers light up – story telling as a way of teaching about our past is an important tradition we must never lose. Once I have done my part, these teachers will return to their students and share their knowledge with them.”

Carved in Stone: safeguarding the future of Turkey’s past
A group receive their certificates as part of the Carved in Stone project

Using IT in the community

At the end of the training courses, the education materials will be uploaded to FETAV’s website where it can be used as an online museum education resource – free of charge.

Another outcome of the project is an app for mobile phones. This will guide the user through points of interest in Fethiye town centre. FETAV and Liverpool University’s IT specialists are currently working together to create the content.

Why is this project so important?

A dominant feature in the Turkish landscape, rock reliefs are an important feature of many of the Anatolian civilisations that have defined the identity of the modern Turkish state.

In addition to forming a key part of the artistic legacy of the Hittites, rock reliefs were also created by Greek, Roman and Islamic cultures across the region.

These rock carvings are part of the living rock. As such they pose a specific problem in terms of their cultural heritage protection, as unlike other antiquities and artefacts, they cannot be transferred to museums for safekeeping.

A rich heritage at risk

There are thousands of rock reliefs throughout Turkey, many of which are located in remote sites making them especially vulnerable to erosion, theft, vandalism and construction work.

In addition, there is a traditional belief held in many villages that the reliefs contain buried gold. This makes them particularly vulnerable.

For the Carved in Stone project, the University of Liverpool is using the grant awarded by the Cultural Protection Fund to protect and record rock reliefs on the Syrian-Turkey border. They will use Reflective Transformation Imaging (RTI) to record rock reliefs at risk.

As well as training 20 heritage professionals in Reflective Transformation Imaging (RTI), the project aims to create an online field manual to support the wider use of RTI.

Samples of the resulting RTI data sets will be deposited in the Archaeology Data Service in York, enabling it to be shared with the archaeological community worldwide.

A number of RTI awareness raising events will also be held for Turkish heritage professionals in Ankara and Istanbul, raising the understanding of RTI in the Turkish Heritage Sector.

The Carved in Stone project partners are:

FETAV (Fethiye Turizm Tanıtım Eğitim Kültür ve Çevre Vakfı) Fethiye, Turkey.

Mediterranean Civilizations Research Institute (MCRI) Akdeniz University, Antalya, Turkey

Department of Archaeology, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey.

What is the Cultural Protection Fund?

In partnership with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the British Council has launched a new £30 million fund to help to create sustainable opportunities for economic and social development through building the capacity to foster, safeguard and promote cultural heritage affected by conflict.

The aim of the fund is to protect and preserve physical monuments and religious sites, as well as ‘intangible’ heritage: inherited traditions, beliefs and cultural identity, passed down through generations – all of which have become increasingly under threat in the Middle East and North Africa.

Following the launch of the fund in June 2016, the first round of projects supported by the Cultural Protection Fund were announced.

In the first round of grants, the money will be used by British and international organisations. They will be working in conflict-affected countries across the Middle East and North Africa.

These organisations are building skills so that local experts can protect their own cultural assets for future generations; ensuring that sites under threat are documented, conserved and restored.

The funded projects are:

–           Preserving the Afghan Heritage, in Kabul’s historic Old City Murad Khani

–           Training in Endangered Archaeology Methodology, in six target countries

–           Training in Action, in Libya

–           The completion of the new Basrah Museum, in Iraq

–           Ground survey, documentation and protection, in 15 other sites in Iraq

–           Carved In Stone, in Turkey

–           Revival of the Mosque of Moqbil, in Siwa Oasis in Egypt’s Western Desert

–           Preserving Palestinian Heritage, in Jerusalem