Armenian Tombstones Found in Taksim Square

The tombstones found date to the 17th to 19th centuries

YEREVAN—The electronic version of the Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper Agos published on Tuesday a list of Armenian names found to be inscribed on tombstones discovered in Taksim Square – the former site of an Armenian cemetery – during construction. As reported by Armenpress, the tombstones date to the 17th to 19th centuries.

The inscriptions that have been published are as follows:

Nikoghos, son of Martiros
Grigor, son of Yeghiazar
Dikesh Harutyun, son of Karapet, 1775
On return from St. Jerusalem, the wife of Ghazanchian Haji Tateos Agha, Haji Ann,    reached God: May 23 1859
John Mikayeloghlu, son of Andiresli
Moses, son of Nerses, from Areveni Village, 1760
Manuk, son of Simavon, from Chomakh Village 1761
Barber Khachatur, son of Aslan, 1850

The tombstones are currently at the Istanbul Archeological Museum, the authorities of which are studying the stones. “The inscriptions on one of the tombstones are worn and illegible. The other two are without inscriptions. On five of the tombstones it is possible to read only the dates,” a museum spokesperson informed. The museum later reported that thirteen of the tombstones were found to be made of marble.

Widespread riots broke out in Turkey in May this year when the government announced its plans for replacing Taksim Square’s Gezi Park with a reconstruction of the historic Taksim Military Barracks and possibly a shopping mall.

While Taksim Square quickly became a symbol of resistance, liberty, and human rights for the young Turkish protestors, for an entire people it already represented something demolished a long time ago.

Unbeknownst to most of the protestors in Taksim Square, buried under their feet lies an Armenian past. Gezi Park was an Armenian cemetery before it was a park, the largest non-Muslim cemetery in Istanbul at its time. Legend tells that the cemetery was built at the order of Suleiman the Magnificent, when his imperial chef, Manuk Karaseferian, resisted a group of conspirators’ plans to poison the sultan’s food and instead revealed them. Asked what he would like for his reward, Karaserefian requested a place for Armenians to bury their loved ones.

This piece of Armenian life in Istanbul, as surreptitiously as all the others was buried under and forgotten in the 1930’s, after the Armenian Genocide. Now, as if still defiant a century on, ghosts of the past have returned with a haunting reminder.

The past is not lost on everyone, however. Every year, a Turkish human-rights group called DurDe organizes a silent commemoration on April 24th, when, in 1915, several hundred Armenian intellectuals were rounded up for execution. It intends to reinstall a memorial for the Armenian Genocide in Gezi Park, but pressure from nationalists has prevented this thus far. Cengiz Alğan, a member of DurDe, told Le Monde, “All the political parties are killing each other, but when it’s about Armenians, there is always a consensus.”


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  1. Smbat Avetyan said:

    No government not even the Turkish (Ottoman) government with it’s genocidal past and its cynical present can overcome the information age. You no longer have the leniency of ignorance to propagate your lies. You have a generation of imbeciles who hate to read – but we hope westernization will help with all that.

    • Ara said:

      “a generation of imbeciles who hate to read” – This is rather apt, especially when you say “Turkish (Ottoman) government”. You do relaise that the “Republic of Turkey” was formed by people who overthrew the Ottoman government. Perhaps you should read more.

      There are lots of Armenians (though many took Turkish names) and historic Armenian relics in Istanbul. Just last year I stayed in a hotel, called “Galustyan”, if I recall correctly. It was built on top of an Armenian bakery and still retained some of the original walls with bricks baked in an Armenian kiln which had Armenian script on them.

      • Smbat Avetyan said:

        Ottoman was included in parentheses to connect the present Turkey with its past as they are not relieved of such histories since they have not recognized the genocide their ancestors living and dead have committed. Let’s do this by analogy then – the Republic of Turkey was formed by people who overthrew the government just like Germany was formed by people who revolted against the Nazi’s. I don’t think you have a point mr such and such.

  2. judy said:

    When you mess with graves and the dead you can not expect anything but bad things to happen. It is a sin in the first place. This is hallowed ground and unless it returns to what it was it will always be a place of turmoil, strife, and bloodshed. Ignorant Turks even you have rules when it comes to the dead. Wake up.

  3. Dino said:

    Most of the Armenian graves have been built upon in Istanbul, Ankara etc.. They disrespected Christians as third class citizens of the ottoman empire, an Islamic Taliban like state. Armenians asserted their rights as human beings and the turks murdered a nation and destroyed Armenian material culture. They have build roads with our stone crosses in Erzincan and elsewhere. They even floored public bathrooms with them. The turks ethnically cleansed Anatolia of it’s Christian population and people are shocked that Armenian material culture is destroyed on a daily basis? In the 50’s one of the Armenian graveyards that held some of the 6,000 murdered during the three day August 1896 massacre of Armenians in Istanbul was built over with an apartment building. The building would shake and creak at night and the Turkish residents left. They couldn’t take it anymore. The heavy burden of sadistically emptying the Armenian Plateau of it’s Armenian population will eventually drive the central asian beasts back to their western Mongolian homeland. I guarantee it.