Botched mosaic restoration makes laughing stock of Turkish museum

A botched restoration of some valuable Roman mosaics has left staff at a museum in southern Turkey with red faces. 

An investigation has been launched after a local craftsman voiced his concerns over the state of around 10 mosaics at the Hatay Archaeology Museum in Hatay, on Turkey’s southern coast.

The craftsman, Mehmet Daskapan, first spoke to local paper the Antakya Gazette about the mosaics in February, but the news has only been picked up this week by mainstream media. "Valuable pieces from the Roman period have been ruined," Mr Daskapan said. "They have become caricatures of their former selves. Some are in an especially poor condition and have lost their originality and value."

Hatay Museum

Daskapan took before and after pictures of the mosaics, showing clearly that the “restored” work looks very different to the original relics. Some of the stones have been replaced with stones of a different colour and shape, altering the facial expressions beyond recognition.

Among the damaged mosaics are world-famous artworks including a panel showing the sacrifice of Isaac, and a mosaic of Narcissus, Daskapan said.

“The panel that I saw could not have been the original mosaic from the 2nd century A.D. Some of its stones are missing, while others have been misplaced, creating a discordant look.” 

Turkey’s ministry for culture has suspended all work at the museum, which is home to one of the largest collections of Roman mosaics in the world, dating back to the second century. A new building was built in December on the site, and curators are working to create a 5000 square metre space devoted to displaying mosaics. The restoration was being completed ahead of the official opening.

Turkish media is comparing the incident to the botched restoration of a Jesus Christ fresco in Zaragoza in 2012, by an elderly Spanish woman. The incident made headlines around the world. 

Deputy director of the Culture Ministry’s Heritage and Museums department issued a statement assuring that an investigation would be made into the restorations.

Hatay Museum


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