Sunday, February 17, 2013

Treasure Maps

Anyone who has traveled in rural Turkey as a foreigner has undoubtedly had the experience of being taken for a spy. Most likely, anyone who has ever expressed interest in Greek or Armenian ruins has also had the experience of being asked, first jokingly, then with the offer of a 50/50 split, if they are there for the gold. Indeed, combing the countryside for buried treasure has long been a popular pursuit in Turkey, as documented in the brilliant Yilmaz Guney's inexplicably unwatchable film Umut (Hope). Sometimes finding it involves religious incantations, but often, especially in the East, it involves trying to piece together the meaning in religious symbols or Armenian letters carved into stones around graveyards or ruined churches. Countless websites, such as or, offer forums where users can discuss the meaning of these clues or ask for advice in interpreting local topography, as well as share found, photocopied, hand-drawn or annotated maps like these. Each letter or motif - a snake, a pair of birds, a cross, a cup, or anything else - can tell prospective treasure hunters which way to go, how many steps to take and how far down to go when they start their digging.

For the full post on Treasure Hunting and Kurdish-Armenian relations, complete with more maps, check out our article at The Tuqay, an excellent source for news from beyond the well protected domains.