Exhibition offers glimpse into the cradle of civilization before colonialism

Published 10.08.2016 00:13

Organized by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) Culture Inc.'s directorate of libraries and museums, a new exhibition titled, "Syria as an Ottoman Province" is in Istanbul at the Atatürk Library Exhibition Hall. İBB Libraries and Museums Director Ramazan Minder told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the work on display consists of historical photographs, gravures, postcards, books and maps of Syria from the İBB Atatürk Library collections.

Pointing out that hundreds of thousands of people have recently died in the Syrian civil war and millions have been forcibly displaced as refugees, Minder said, "Unfortunately, the international institutions have not effectively collaborated in order to stop this human tragedy that is happening before the eyes of the entire world. They have chosen to be mere spectators."

Noting that many people have a negative opinion of Syrian refugees, Minder said, "Syrians are coupled with negative connotations. However, during the Ottoman period, these lands were depicted as the center of culture and civilization. Members of different religions were living in peace in these lands with strong ties to science, arts and trade."

Ramazan Minder said that the exhibition aims to take visitors on a historical journey through the history of the country by eliminating negative perceptions about Syrians. "This land that the Ottomans lost as a result of World War I became exposed to Western colonization. In addition to human tragedies, the cultural and historical structures that belonged to the civilizations in Syria were destroyed and overrun. Just like in Iraq, the museums and libraries have been destroyed," Minder said.

The exhibition features 114 postcards, five maps, 16 rare books and 24 photographs of Syrian state officials. Minder said, "All the pieces in the exhibition were obtained from sources at the İBB Atatürk Library. Our library has a rich archive. Albums and photography collections enrich our library along with maps, postcards, manuscripts, printed books in the Ottoman language and periodicals. Established after determining the exhibition's theme, the commission selected pieces from the library's collection and the exhibition was later prepared by making special designs for the exhibition hall." Minder added that an enlarged gravure of Palmira's ancient city, which was destroyed by DAESH, and many Syrian photographs including deputies in the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies and state officials are also on display. The exhibition can be visited every day until the end of August between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

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