Please find below a letter from the American Hellenic Media Project as published in Celator, "the world's premier journal for ancient coin collectors"


August 2000


Your remarkable effort to stem Turkey's flooding of Zeugma, a valuable archeological site, for a hydroelectric dam project is to be highly commended. Unfortunately, the physical destruction of Asia Minor's past is related to Turkey's current nationalist ideology, which seeks to deny the area's Hellenic past. Tragically, much of the mainstream US media have ratified this false revisionism, for example identifying Ephesus as an "ancient Turkish city" (CNN, 11/16/99) and, as with Zeugma, identifying sites as "Roman" without reference to their ancient Greek or Hellenistic past.

Improperly identifying Zeugma as a Roman city merely serves to compound this erasing of historical memory, and misses an opportunity to examine Turkey's motives. Founded as a pair of Greek cities on opposite banks of the Euphrates by Seleucus Nicator in 300 B.C., Seleucia and Apamea were later called Zeugma (Greek for "yoke"). It is a rudimentary fact that much of Asia Minor was Greek in culture and population before and during the Roman Empire.

Turkey's policy of identifying Hellenic cities, art and other archeological finds as anything but Greek to expunge the area's Hellenic past has largely been ratified by the New York Times and other major US periodicals.

The premature flooding of the site is part of a long-standing pattern of the neglect, looting and destruction of Turkey's, and now Cyprus', Greek past. The Turkish government clearly had other alternatives which could have delayed Zeugma's flooding, including obtaining electricity from Greece's or Bulgaria's power grids for six months.

Rather than invite the millions of dollars that could have been raised from Greek and non-Greek sources to salvage this important site, thereby missing a golden opportunity to further warm the thaw in Greek-Turkish relations, the Turkish government sacrificed a valuable part of mankind's cultural heritage for reasons that may have more to do with short-sighted nationalism than energy.

Dean Sirigos, Associate
American Hellenic Media Project
PO Box 1150, New York, NY

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