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Treasure hunters destroy historic Greek chapel on Turkey's Cunda island


A historical chapel, which is believed to be 250 years old, in western Turkey's coastal province of Balıkesir’s Ayvalık district, has been destroyed evidently by treasure hunters who took advantage of measures implemented against the coronavirus outbreak.


Treasure hunters destroy historic Greek chapel on Turkey's Cunda island
Credit: DHA

The chapel was built by the monks of the Ai Dimitri Monastery in 1766 with the donation of a wealthy patron from Cunda.


“The chapel, which was intact eight years ago, has been heavily destroyed in the last few years in search of treasures and other valuable structures from the late Ottoman period,” says local historian Taylan Köken, adding that the destruction was much worse, especially in secluded places.




“This chapel, which has been standing for 200 years, may have been destroyed by the effect of rain when it was excavated for treasure. However, certainly, the building was severely damaged by the treasure hunters until it collapsed and the static state of the building deteriorated,” Köken noted.


Treasure hunters destroy historic Greek chapel on Turkey's Cunda island
Credit: DHA

Cunda Island (Greek Moschonisi) is the largest of the Ayvalık Islands archipelago in the Edremit Gulf on the northwestern coast in Turkey, which was historically called the Εκατόνησα (Hekatonisa) or Μοσχονήσια (Moschonisia) archipelago in Greek, located 16 kilometres east of the Greek island of Lesbos. 


According to the Ottoman General Census of 1881/82-1893, the island had a total population of 4.671, consisting of 4.417 Greeks, 89 Muslims and 165 foreign citizens.




In 1914, most of the Greek inhabitants were deported to Aivali (the Greek name for Ayvalık; originally Kydonies) on the mainland without being allowed to take anything with them. In Aivali they shared the same fate of oppression with its Christian inhabitants until they were all deported, and scattered among the Turkish villages of the vilayets of Izmir and Bursa. 


Treasure hunters destroy historic Greek chapel on Turkey's Cunda island
Credit: DHA

On September 19, 1922 several hundred of the Greek islanders were killed on Cunda; only some children were spared and sent to orphanages. The next year, following the Treaty of Lausanne and the population exchange between Greece and Turkey, the few remaining islanders were forced to leave for Greece and were replaced by Cretan Turks and Turks from Lesbos.


Source: Hurriyet Daily News & Wikipedia [January 15, 2021]



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