Turkey restoring historic Byzantine church icons

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Experts in Turkey have been restoring 452 pieces of historical Byzantine church icons, which date back to 17th century.

Turkey’s Culture Ministry’s restoration laboratory in Istanbul work on objects, which were brought from across Turkey and kept in the country’s historic Hagia Sophia, a Christian church until it was converted into a mosque when the Ottomans conquered Istanbul in 1453 and later turned into a museum in 1935.

Mainly wooden Byzantine icons depict religious rituals, and stories as well as Jesus Christ.

Ali Osman Avsar, manager in the laboratory, told Anadolu Agency that they were working with the help of Prof. Dr. Sema Dogan, an art historian from Ankara Based-Hacettepe University. “It is a very important project for us.”

“These icons are historical assets. We need to protect them. So far 45 icons have been restored.

“We want to exhibit [icons] in a museum, which will be opened after we finish the restoration because there is not enough space to display in Hagia Sophia,” Avsar said.

Two Italian icon restoration experts Prof. Lorenzo Casametti and Rafaella Greca came to Turkey for workshops on how to protect the items without disturbing their original shape.

One Turkish restorer Gulseren Dikilitas also visited Istituto Lorenzo de Medici in Florence and National University of Arts in Bucharest.

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