Saturday, 27 August 2011

I decided to officially archive this blog on the day my DPhil was confirmed. But I have waited for the electronic publication of my thesis, Interrogating Archaeological Ethics in Conflict Zones: Cultural Heritage Work in Cyprus, to announce the archiving. From now on, I will blog at Conflict Antiquities.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Goshi: abandoned village, destroyed

[Thanks to Dave S's comment on the Evretou photo blog, I will try to give each site photo blog a proper introduction; until then, I'll cross-post the introductory posts from Cultural Heritage in Conflict.]

During a visit to a church in northern Cyprus, I met a refugee from the abandoned village of Goshi/Koşşi. He told me how 'Goshi was emptied. It was destroyed'(1) in 1974, by 'Makarios's [soldiers]' (2008: Pers. Comm.). Greek Cypriot National Guard laid waste to the place.

Later, I visited and photographed it, before the Greek Cypriot National Guard base near the village called the police. Greek Cypriot police took me away to the local police station, under threat of false charges.

They immediately gave up any pretence of having a just cause for my detention. They questioned me, searched me and my car, searched my research materials, and questioned me again; then they searched my camera, and warned me not to return to Goshi.

Luckily, they didn't recognise some of the photos, dismissing them as 'ancient stuff'(2), and they scanned through some others too quickly for the digital camera's preview screen to display them properly.

It's now used as a farm, but it's a Greek Cypriot refugee family's farm, and they are utterly blameless. The village had already been destroyed when they arrived, and since then, they have used corrugated iron goat pens. Generally, they do not use the ruins of the Turkish Cypriot homes, and when they do, it's because it's unavoidable in the village. The farmers are other victims of the conflict.

Cynics might wonder whether the guilty parties in the conflict wanted to keep the refugee farmers in Goshi, and elsewhere, economically dependent - and economically dependent upon the reuse of the abandoned villages - so that their activities contributed to the decay and disappearance of the destroyed places, the destruction of the evidence of the guilty parties' crimes.

I've finally got round to posting them on a photo blog, Goshi: cultural heritage and community.
  1. 'Koşşi boşaltın. Yıkıldı.'
  2. 'Τα αρχαία'. I think that's the translation anyway; maybe it's 'ancient places'.
[This was originally posted on Cultural Heritage in Conflict on 15th June 2009.]

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Goshi artefact 1: I found this one, lost shoe, a discarded sandal, in the destroyed village. Hopefully, it was lost by one of the farmer's children, or one of their friends; but it may not have been.

Discussing the archaeology of ethnically cleansed places, another international archaeologist (not working in Cyprus) told me,
[I found] discarded shoes and clothing mixed in with spent bullet shell casings... lying in the courtyard under the collapsed remains of the house. I can only imagine what sordid little scenario took place there.
But getting stronger circumstantial evidence, or conclusive proof, would require further research.

Goshi buildings 20: here are some of the farm's goat pens, made from corrugated iron walls and ceilings, around a wooden frame.

Goshi buildings 19: more ruins, with some farm equipment stored in or by them.

Goshi buildings 18: here are some more of the corrugated iron structures; these are the only homes in the village now, and the only residents are goats. There are more hay bales dotted around.

Goshi buildings 17: these are the ruins of a mixture of mudbrick and stone homes; these houses were downhill from the centre of the village, and more spread out.

Goshi buildings 16: here is a ruined, but still standing, stone-built home, and an utterly destroyed home, reduced to a scatter of stones on the hillside. This contrast reveals how easily destroyed homes may be reduced to something that looks natural, as if nothing had ever been built there before.

Goshi buildings 15: a photograph of more destroyed buildings; I took this to show the character of the previously more densely populated area.

Goshi buildings 14: this photograph includes more of the hill village, and displays the destruction horizon.

Goshi buildings 13: the "3" spray-painted onto this destroyed home is spray-painted onto the inside of the home; it could only have been done after the building's destruction. So, this is good evidence that the Greek Cypriot National Guard has used the village, presumably for military exercises.

(The only other people who could have done it would have been the farmers, but there is no reason for them to have done it, and I have not seen it done on any other agricultural buildings.)

Goshi buildings 12: this is another concrete foundation, it - and the pile of stone on top of it - the only remains of another razed home.

Goshi building 12: I had thought that the Greek Cypriot National Guard had numbered each of the destroyed homes for target practice or military exercises, but here there is a "12", a "Γ/G/Gamma" and another "4". So, I don't know what the code is, but I think this confirms that it is a National Guard code for places in a military exercise site.

Goshi buildings 11a1: [the Greek Cypriot National Guard wrote 6D (6Δ/6 Delta) on the wall of] this destroyed home is/was Greek Cypriot National Guard target 6D (6Δ/6 Delta).. [but elsewhere in the village, there are different numbers on the same building, and the same numbers on different buildings, so they are not being used to mark a target (at least, not in a simple way).]

The building in front of it appears to have had a "4" spray-painted onto it. This one appears to be on the corner of the building, so I don't think it could have been a "14", and others have "4" on them, too, so it seems to be a code.

Goshi buildings 11a2: (I've increased the contrast, to show the paint more clearly.)

Goshi buildings 11a3: one of the mysterious fours. (Again, I've increased the contrast to show the paint more clearly.)

[Edited on the 18th of June 2009.]

Goshi building 10a: the stone and mudbrick of this home are now mixed together, and rubbish has got stuck to and mixed in with the stone and mudbrick. I think the broken stone on the centre right, with (what looks like) a divot in it, may have been a door pivot.

A common nationalist argument is that these mudbrick homes were not destroyed; mudbrick decays, and the buildings disappear. But even decayed and collapsed mudbrick forms a mound, like this one; so, when the mudbrick building disappears, and no mound remains, it implies deliberate disappearance.

And some of the bricks are still in shape, and stuck together: they are evidence that even when abandoned and neglected mudbrick buildings do decay and collapse, their remains are still visible, and identifiable, for years. They refute nationalist denial.

Goshi building 10b: a door pivot, broken in two?

Goshi buildings 2c2: on top of Goshi building 2c, this view reveals the bale of hay being stored in the interior of a destroyed home, Goshi building 2a. The plastic crate in the back of the "room" is half-full of decayed mudbrick, and grass has grown in and through it.

Goshi buildings 2c1: the razed concrete foundation of a building, with the ruin of Goshi building 2a in the background.

Goshi buildings 2b: a view of the broken concrete remains seen in Goshi building 2a, with the first and other buildings behind them.

Goshi buildings 9: these are (at least) three other destroyed homes.
The mudbrick walls of this destroyed Turkish Cypriot home are decaying. The mudbrick is falling around the walls, and plants are colonising this soil and growing: the building is burying itself.

The Greek Cypriot National Guard's destruction of this home left its walls with no roof to protect them; the consequent decay has been gradually destroying the evidence of the destruction ever since.

Already, the only visible evidence of the identity of the home's occupants is the decomposing wood being swallowed by the plants. It is "Turkish Cypriot green"(1).

Eventually, the plants will cover the wood, and the weather will erase the remaining walls of the ruin, and this will become another mound, another archaeological site.

Goshi building 8a: a view of the destroyed building decaying and disappearing.

Goshi building 8b: a view of the door, the cracking door frame, and the collapsed roof behind it.

Goshi building 8c: a view of the "Turkish Cypriot green" paint on the wood.
  1. The colours are not always proof - for example, the owner of a building might have changed, but the new owner might keep the "old" colours - but normally, blue is Greek Cypriot, green is Turkish Cypriot, and brown is municipal.

    There is a "Greek Cypriot" blue door above "Turkish Cypriot"-tiled steps in Lapithos/Lapta, which used to be a majority Greek Cypriot village. I don't know whether a Turkish Cypriot refugee from the South took the house and applied the tiles, or whether it was always a Turkish Cypriot house, and the Turkish Cypriot family painted the door blue to complement the blue in the tiles.

    There are yellow doors, but I don't know whether they would be called "(united/bicommunal) Cypriot yellow". There are even half-green, half-blue doors. (It would be nice to imagine that was evidence of a mixed family, but it's certainly not proof.) Still, the colour is a clue to the identity of the family.

Goshi buildings 8: soil is gathering around, and plants are growing over, this mound of building material, broken furniture and domestic and agricultural rubbish. It is a normal archaeological deposit, a good information source.

But this mound has layers, and if archaeologists studied it without knowing its history, they would not know that the deeper layers, from further back in time, were the product and evidence of the destruction of a community.

Goshi buildings 7: the farm uses some ruins as walls. In some ways, this actually protects the ruins, because they are conserved and cared for; if they were not used, eventually, weather and stray goats would destroy them. Along with the mudbrick, rubbish decays and disappears under soil and plants.

Goshi buildings 6: there is barbed wire over the right, stone-built wall of the ruin, but I don't know whether it was put there by the National Guard or by the farmer.

Goshi building 5: a Turkish Cypriot refugee told me how 'Goshi was emptied, it was destroyed' in 1974 by 'Makarios's [soldiers]' (2008: Pers. Comm.)(1). Like every other building in the village, Greek Cypriot National Guard destroyed the stone-built Goshi Mosque (Koşşi Camisi); this is its ruin.
  1. 'Koşşi boşaltın, yıkıldı.'

Goshi buildings 4: this area is now used as a goat farm; the things in the open area are troughs for food and/or water.
There are at least six destroyed buildings in this photograph; I think these were all homes.

There is a Greek Cypriot National Guard base near the village. The National Guard planned the village, and identified the ruins by painting numbers on their walls, either for target practice or for military exercises. The home in the middle of this photograph has a "4" on it, but so do others, so I don't think it can be "number 4". I don't understand the code.

Goshi buildings 3a: a view of at least six destroyed homes

Goshi buildings 3b: a close-up view of the number 4.

Goshi building 2a: this is the side view of the destroyed building, with other broken concrete remains in front of it.

Goshi buildings 1b: the village's ruins are visible amongst the farm buildings and equipment.

Goshi buildings 1a: these corrugated iron structures are the only functional buildings in the village now.