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The Lost Hittite Gallery

The Lost Hittite Gallery
What is The Lost Gallery of the Hittites? Well, Garstang came back from Turkey with a set of casts from this very famous temple, which you know the name of, and I’ve forgotten. Yazilikaya. Yazilikaya. in Hitusha. And, in exchange for a copy of the set of the casts, he gave the moulds to the Berlin Museum. And when he brought the casts back, he lent them to Liverpool City Museum, which is now The World Museum. So this Liverpool Museum opened the Aegean and Hittite Gallery in 1931. And the walls of the gallery were decorated with these plaster casts of the reliefs of Hittite sculptures that Garstang had made.
And the Ottoman government very tightly controlled what they would let out of their country, so he wasn’t able to bring back sculptures or large numbers of artefacts. But he was allowed to, by their permission, bring back these plaster casts. And the walls of the Hittite gallery were decorated with these plaster casts. And actually there were no archaeological artefacts that related to the Hittites– really many of them available to him. So it was really just the casts on the walls that gave the gallery its name. And then when it was bombed in 1941, the roof of the gallery came off, and then the plaster just washed away in the rain.
So you can see in the photographs that the casts are still on the walls, but after a few years, they were gone. So there’s only really one photograph of the gallery before it was bombed, and the guidebook– that’s really all that survives.

John Garstang cleverly navigated strict Ottoman rules on removing antiquities from their Empire by making casts of some major archaeological finds. This video traces the history of the Hittite collection and its fate in the war.

What do you think about Garstang’s methods of preserving the past? Have you come across any other innovative ways of giving the public access to ancient items?

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Superpowers of the Ancient World: the Near East

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