February 26, 2005

Hagia Sophia Mosaics Still Wait for a Savior

By Abdullah Kilic
Published: Thursday 24, 2005

Invaluable pieces of mosaics, which have adorned the Hagia Sophia Museum's dome for over 1,500 years are being stored without any protection between the Hagia Sofia and Hagia Irene. The pieces dropped due to condensation and restoration work but have not been stored properly.

Experts are dismayed that pieces of mosaics portraying the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ and Christian saints are being stored unprotected in boxes. Art historians criticize their continued storage despite the public outcry and say it is gross negligence and insensitiveness to leave them where they are. Saying that the Hagia Sophia is suffering serious problems from the mismanagement of its restoration, Professor Semavi Eyice says that the scandal is a national shame for Turkey. The monument has been called the "Eighth Wonder of the World", but pieces of its mosaics are being treated like rubbish, and Eyice has called on officials to take action. Professor Said Basaran, Chair of Istanbul University's Cultural Heritage Conservation and Restoration Department has said that the abandoned pieces are as valuable as the ones decorating the dome and that the mosaics should be transferred to a secure place.

Mosaic decorations on the dome of Hagia Sophia's dome, which was built in the sixth century A.D, are as valuable as the architecture of the construction. There are about 1000 square meters of mosaic inside the Hagia Sophia, within which, only a 60-meter-square part does not have mosaics. The size of the mosaics used in the Hagia Sophia varies from century to century. Mosaics from the sixth and the 10th centuries are 6 x 7 mm thick while the ones added in the seventh century are about 3 cm thick. The diameters of the mosaics on window frames also correspond to these numbers. Bits dropped from the 1,000 or 1,500-year-old mosaics on the dome of the Hagia Sophia, which is described as a "masterwork", are still waiting to be reset and are being stored without any attention to their valuable condition.

Link (Zaman)

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