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Dernière modification : 8 janvier 2018

Izmir from Past to Present
Human and Cultural Interactions

Michel Espagne, R. Gül Gürtekin Demir, Stéphane Verger et Pınar Aydemir (éd.)

Izmir from Past to Present. Human and Cultural Interactions
Crédits : Izmir Büyükflehir Belediyesi

Actes bilingues turc/anglais du colloque tenu à Izmir du 4 au 7 novembre 2015 (> voir le projet)


Smyrna, with its very special geographical position, has been an extraordinary meeting place between the European and Asian cultures since its foundation by Aeolians at the end of the second millennium B.C. This integration was occasionally determined by long-lived prosperous economies, privileged and fruitful cultural interactions as well as by tragedies that were commonly faced. All these aspects formed the identity of the city, and still elaborate the peaceful and balanced components of the city’s history.
The term transfer or cultural interweaving may be interpreted in several ways. The large scope of the term may be observed in the transportation of trade goods, e.g. Persian incense exported to Sardis, Ottoman cotton exported to Marseille. It is also witnessed in the sudden displacement of people following the disasters that dramatically effected the history of the city in various means, e.g. the siege of Alyattes, king of Lydians at the end of the 7th century B.C., replacement of Smyrnians from Old Smyrna (Bayraklı) to their new home, Kadifekale, and the exodus of Greeks from Turkey and Turks from Greece in 1922. Among all of these forms of cultural transfers the most sophisticated one throughout Smyrna’s history is the “transfer” practiced in the city’s urban life : eclectic fashions, hybrid musical forms, meeting of diverse cultures of distinct ethnic origins that meet from the Homeric times and onwards, such as Greek, Lydian, Byzantine, Persian, Seljuk, Armenian, Levantine, Hebrew, etc.
The use of long distant routes between East and West for long periods of time may be apparent in various aspects : The Persian Royal Road was previously used by Phrygians and later during the political and military turmoil of the Hellenistic period as well as by the European travelers who came to Asia Minor, such as Choiseul Gouffier, who visited the region and described the cities where the past mingled to present. He is also the first person to discover the Pergamon Altar and terracottas of Myrina.
The dynamism of recent studies gives us the opportunity to have a look at this special field of cultural transfer studies that is composed by the help of successive stratigraphical sequences attested in Smyrna. Ancient Ionian Smyrna was unearthed in the first half of the 20th century at Bayraklı by Ekrem Akurgal who was one of the founders of new Turkish archeology. The earliest remains of the city is excavated by Zafer Derin in Yeşilova H.yük whereas the current field director of Bayraklı Excavations is Cumhur Tanrıver. The new Hellenistic and Roman Smyrna includes the area of agora. The current excavations are carried out by Akın Ersoy.
It was interesting especially for art historians to create an opportunity to introduce less-known periods such as Byzantine and Ottoman periods. In addition to this, some important buildings in terms of architectural importance in the urban life of Izmir are still visible despite successive destructions. Thanks to recent programs reevaluating and restoration of the ancient buildings we are able to see some of the fine buildings of famous people, such as that of Gustave Eiffel.
From an archaeological and architectural perspective, the conference has largely benefited from the scholars who study on the remains and history of Izmir and several large neighboring Ionian cities, and also from the field directors of the excavations within the city (such as Yeşilova Mound, Old and New Smyrna).
The conference was an opportunity to put the focus on these fields. We also had the chance to explore the society of more recent periods, especially the periods where we observe the eclectic life of multi-cultural societies of Turkish, Greek, Jewish, Armenian, Levantine and other communities that characterize the old life of Smyrna. The long-term history of Izmir is a paradigmatic matter for human sciences focusing on transnationalism.


Ege University ; Laboratoire d’excellence TransferS. Colloque (2015 ; Izmir). Izmir from Past to Present : Human and Cultural Interactions. Éd. M. Espagne, R. G. Gürtekin Demir, St. Verger et P. Aydemir. Izmir Büyükflehir Belediyesi, 2017, 44 p. ISBN 978-975-18-0185-2

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