This chapter of Digging-Up. Atlas of the Blank Histores is based on a fact-finding investigation in Cappadocia (Turkey), in search of unknown, omitted or forgotten narratives and stories that have taken hold in this rocky land. The region, which is in the heart of the Anatolian peninsula, has been inhabited since ancient times and it has a unique geological conformation, with cavities, caves, and rupestrian sites. The stories have been mapped and brought out in a series of core samples from the subsoil that has long preserved them.
The stories, documents and legends have been handed down by the local inhabitants, who helped select the sites where the extractions were made.
From the archaeological site of Aşıklı Höyük, the first known settlement in Anatolia, which dates to around 9,000 BC, to Keyişdere, a valley of monasteries carved into the rock, which are so crowded together that it is impossible to say where one ends and the other begins, through to the diocese of the Greek Orthodox Church (no longer in use) in Mokissos, an ancient Byzantine city which was rebuilt by Emperor Justinian I in the sixth century AD
The core drilling was carried out in the following sites: Gökçetoprak, Aşıklı Höyük, the Ihlara Valley, Çavuşin, and Mokisson, which were selected through research carried out in collaboration with Atıl Ulaş Cüce, Emin Naci Akkuyu, İkizler Seramik, and Mükremin Tokmak. During the initial stage of the investigations, other areas were identified by the survey, by collecting documentary material and on-site inspections, though no core-drilling could be carried out due to the procedures required for obtaining permits. These included the volcanic site of Göllödag, as well as Pasabag, Sofular, Mustafapaşa and Ağzikarahan.
After being examined by a geologist, the cores were put on display in their standard containers at the Hacı Nuri Bey Mansion in Avanos, during the group exhibition Ways Out From The World. Now a museum and the headquarters of the tourism office, the mansion was originally the private residence of the owner it is named after. Hacı Nuri Bey (1878-1941) was born in Avanos and worked as a military doctor during the First World War, for which he received medals and honours. After spending most of his life in Istanbul, he returned to his hometown when he retired in 1931. Moved by a desire to recreate in Avanos a corner of the city where he had spent much of his life, he expanded his modest family home in about 1934-6, turning it into the original mansion we see today. The three-storey building is arranged around an arcaded courtyard, and it features stone and wooden decorations that reflect the style of buildings in Istanbul. As well as for his military achievements, Hacı Nuri Bey was notable for his role as a benefactor: he adopted two children and treated the sick free of charge, turning part of his home into a clinic. After his death, the mansion had a chequered history: his heirs rented it to the Tekel administration, the Turkish state monopolies, and its precious objects and furniture were sold or lost over time. In 1996 the mansion was expropriated by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and turned into a museum.
The title of the exhibition, Ways Out From The World, is a quote from the book of the same name (1990) by the poet and artist Sami Baydar. The works on show offered an alternative vision of everyday reality, evoking what has not yet emerged, and what is not yet visible or that is yet to come about. The exhibition was part of the Cappadox 2017 programme, curated by Fulya Fulya Erdemci, Kevser Güler, and Ilgın Deniz Akseloğlu, (18 May – 11 June 2017),which promoted a dialogue between contemporary artistic practices and the complex geography of Cappadocia, encouraging local research.
When the exhibition ended, the cores were placed in an iron container, which was then sealed and buried, turning it into a time capsule. It was interred near the village of Bozcaköy, in the district of Avanos (province of Nevşehir), and marked by a granite slab with the dates of burial and exhumation engraved on the surface. It is to be disinterred after a century, and its geolocation coordinates have been sent to the International Time Capsule Society (ITCS) in Atlanta, Georgia.
Plaques with the extraction data have been placed at each core drilling point.