|Turkish Treasures Delight Archaeologists|
|Topic||Market Failure, Regulation, and Public Choice|
|Key Words||Dam project, employment, cultural treasures, economic development|
In southern Turkey on the banks of the Euphrates River lies a small town called Belkis. A local dam project is nearing completion. Soon the dam will be completely filled, bringing electricity, irrigation and employment to the community.
However, in the construction zone archaeologists have recently discovered the remains of hundreds of richly decorated villas that formed part of the ancient city of Zeugma-Apamea, an affluent outpost of the Roman Empire. They have found a three-foot bronze statue of Mars, twelve floors of mosaics, and an archive of 65,000 Roman seals used for binding documents.
The excavation will not be completed when the dam is filled. Many Westerners are critical of Turkey's attitude toward cultural treasures. However, Turkey sees the dam as vital to economic development and says that it would cost $30 million to halt the fill.
Perhaps the lessons of the Aswan Dam project in Egypt could be heeded. When two temples built by Ramses II at Abu Simbel were threatened, an international consortium led by Unesco moved them to higher ground.
(Updated July 1, 2000)
|Source||"Before the Deluge," The Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2000.|
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