Claiming the Classical Past: Ottoman Archaeology at Lagina

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In 1891 and 1892, an Ottoman team led by Osman Hamdi Bey, director of the Imperial Museum in Istanbul, conducted the first archaeological excavations of the site of Lagina in western Anatolia. Lagina was home in the ancient period to the Temple of Hekate. Constructed in the Hellenistic period, the temple was the only monumental sanctuary to the chthonic goddess Hekate in the ancient world. This article examines the excavations at Lagina within their original context in the late Ottoman Empire, considering contemporary politics surrounding archaeology and the collection of antiquities. It argues that the campaigns at Lagina represent a pivotal moment in the history of Ottoman archaeology. While the dig at Lagina was not the first archaeological excavation conducted on behalf of the Ottoman state, it was the first that was part of a larger program that involved long-term scientific excavation, a new model of collaboration with European colleagues, and a plan for the monumental recreation of the Temple of Hekate in Istanbul. Building upon both European archaeological models and precedents established during his work at Nemrud Dağı (Mount Nemrut) and Sidon, Osman Hamdi established a new template for Ottoman archaeology with his work at Lagina.


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