EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 31 Mai 2023 | 17:00–18:30

Working for the Kaiser (and Being Treated Unfairly): Ottoman-German Archaeological Encounters in Theodore Macridy’s Letters

Filiz Tütüncü Çağlar (EUME Fellow 2020-23), Chair: Nurçin İleri (EUME Fellow 2020-23)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

The intensifying German-Ottoman alliance in the late nineteenth century had a huge impact on the archaeological scene, as the German teams’ participation escalated the already-competitive nature of this domain. Venturing into archaeology as a new field of interest, German officials and engineers initiated numerous ambitious campaigns across the empire. Alarmed by the great demand for antiquities, the Ottomans took immediate steps to prevent the plundering of ancient sites while actively participating in the exploration and appropriation of the ancient past and the rush for antiquities. This talk aims to illustrate the complexities surrounding the production and exchange of knowledge between German and Ottoman archaeologists through the testimony of Theodore Macridy, an Ottoman-Greek archaeologist who represented the Imperial Museum in European excavations. Macridy’s letters convey numerous instances in which he was viewed solely in his official capacity as a commissar and not always welcomed into the scholarly community. Situating Macridy within a quasi-colonial setting, this paper argues that his mindset reflected the shifting political climate as the complex politics of field archaeology constantly forced him to negotiate his scholarly position. His encounters with locals and German teams, thus, offer a valuable framework for contextualizing the development of archaeological practice and discourse in Turkey and Germany, where the nineteenth-century dynamics continue to shape contemporary politics of archaeology, heritage, and museums.

Filiz Tütüncü Çağlar is an archaeologist and art historian specializing in the history of archaeology with also experience in Byzantine and Islamic archaeology. She received her PhD in Art History and Visual Studies from the University of Victoria (Canada) in 2017. Her wide range of research interests include the history of archaeology and collecting in the late Ottoman period, Islamic art, museum outreach, and history of horse breeding. She has published articles and book chapters on the formation and historiography of Ottoman archaeology and the life and work of Theodore Macridy. Filiz has been a postdoctoral research fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien with the research programs Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices (2018/19) and Europe in the Middle East – The Middle East in Europe (2020-23). She is also affiliated with the Museum für Islamische Kunst where she carries out research on the history of archaeology in the Ottoman Empire with a particular focus on the Ottoman-German relations. In addition, she is affiliated with the Berlin State Museums as a guide where she leads tours on the Museum Island.  

Nurçin İleri is a EUME fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien 2020-23, associated with the IGK Work and Human Life Cycle in Global History (re:work) at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Her dissertation focused on the social and material geographies of night in late Ottoman Istanbul. She has taught at Binghamton University, Boğaziçi University, and Işık University, and worked as an assistant coordinator at the Boğaziçi University Archives and Documentation Center. Her current research questions and interests are driven by the theoretical and methodological frameworks which are engaged within the broad fields of transnational history and environmental humanities in relation to global capitalism, nationalism, gender, ethnicity, labor, and material cultures. She is also one of the editors of the TRAFO blog series Factory Reloaded and Envisioning Work.



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