Ekrem Akurgal

Ekrem Akurgal

Ekrem Akurgal (1911-2002) was a prominent and internationally famous Turkish archaeologist. During a career that spanned more than fifty years, he conducted definitive research in several sites along the western coast of Anatolia such as Phokaia (Foça), Pitane (Çandarlı), Erythrai (Ildırı) and old Smyrna (Bayraklı höyük, the original site of the city of Smyrna before the city's move to another spot across the Gulf of İzmir). A polyglot, he also had a star quality that eased relations beyond Turkey's borders, for the benefit of the image of the country that he represented with skill.

He was born on March 30, 1911 in the Arab village of Tulkarm (today a Palestinian city in the West Bank), where his mother's family owned a large farm. Later on, he would jokingly comment on the village of Tulkarm itself becoming a well-known name in the world of archaeology, the place being close to the location of the ancient site of Caesarea Maritima. He descended from a family of Ottoman intellectuals and religious men, several of whose members had assumed the office of mufti, the highest title of the Islamic clergy in a given region, for the Ottoman province of Herzegovina. His family moved back from Palestine to İstanbul when he was two years old. For some time, they resided in another family farm, this time near the Akyazı district of Adapazarı. He received his first education from his father's sister and her husband, who taught literature in "Darülfünun" (İstanbul University today).

Akurgal graduated in 1931 from İstanbul High School for Boys and, having earned a state scholarship, went to the University of Berlin in Germany to study archaeology. In a Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung made in 1990, the interviewer was to remark that, now and then, his German was still unmistakably tainted with Berlinerisch.

In 1957, he became a professor in University of Ankara. He worked mainly in the Aegean Region, starting the researches on Phokaia (Foça), Pitane (Çandarlı), Erythrai (Ildırı) and old Smyrna (Bayraklı tumulus). He published numerous books on ancient Greek, Hittite and other ancient civilizations of Anatolia.

Akurgal received honorary doctorates from the University of Bordeaux, France in 1961, the University of Athens, Greece in 1988, the University of Lecce, Italy in 1990 and the Anadolu University in Eskişehir in 1990.

He was titular of the German Great Cross of Merit with star in 1979, of the Goethe Medal in 1979, of Italian Commandatore of the Order of Merit of the Republic in 1987 and of French Légion d'honneur Officier.

Settled in İzmir since the seventies to pursue his work on the nearby sites with more effectiveness, Akurgal died on November 1, 2002 in İzmir. His work and legacy is being carried on by his wife, Meral Akurgal, an accomplished archaeologist herself and his closest assistant in his lifetime.


* Akurgal, Ekrem - Ancient Civilisations and Ruins of Turkey, Kegan Paul, 2002. 518 pages; 2002 [http://www.amazon.com/Ancient-Civilizations-Ruins-Turkey-Akurgal/dp/0710307764]
* Akurgal, Ekrem - The Hattian and Hittite Civilizations; Publications of the Republic of Turkey; Ministry of Culture; 2001; 300 pages; ISBN 975-17-2756-1

External links

[http://www.wearetheturks.org/?p=238 We are the Turks: Ekrem Akurgal]

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