Eski Gümüş Monastery Restoration

Location: Gümüşler; Niğde Province

Years: 1962-1965

Project Director: Michael Gough

Participants: Mary Gough, David and Mrs. Winfield, Jolanda Fletcher (1964), Timothy and Mrs. Mitford (1964)

Government Representatives: Mühittin Uysaldır (1963-1965)

Funding: Russell Trust


In 1962, following his work at Trabzon, David Winfield along with Michael and Mary Gough visited Eski Gümüş, a site not far from Niğde.  The rock-cut church there was apparently unknown to nineteenth century European travellers, but had come to their attention through a report published by Ahmet Akif Tütenk.  They undertook cleaning work on Byzantine wall-paintings at the rock-cut church there, revealing well-preserved paintings depicting New Testament scenes, believed to date to the eleventh or twelfth centuries AD.  In addition to cleaning, restoring, and photographing the paintings, they made a plan of the church and courtyard.

In September 1963, work at the church was continued for over three weeks.  Soot and grease was removed from the paintings, and holes were filled in with plaster.  The work of two or three different artists could be discerned, and the paintings were deemed to be in a higher style than elsewhere seen in Cappadocia.

From 18 July to 31 August 1964 the project was continued.  Thanks to a cleaning product brought by Winfield, the work continued quickly and smoothly.  Beyond cleaning and partially restoring more paintings with religious motifs, the team made a significant discovery on the walls of a room above the narthex: a series of paintings eventually determined by Cyril Mundy to be illustrations of Aesop’s Fables.  Such a discovery was believed to be unique in Anatolia.  They also created a drainage channel to prevent flooding during the winter.  Additionally, some paintings of saints in the Church of Constantine at Aktaş (Andaval) were cleaned and a funerary chapel at Ulu Agaç was investigated.  A group of churches near Erdemesin village (near Yeşilhisar) were also found to contain paintings, though in a poor state.

On 1 October 1965 a final season was commenced back at Eski Gümüş.  In two weeks, the team was successful in completing the cleaning of paintings in the church, neutralising the over-restoration of some paintings from past seasons, and confirming that no damage had been done to the site since the previous season.


1963: ‘Report of the Council of Management and of the Director for 1962’ Anatolian Studies 13: 4-5, 7

Gough, M. 1964: ‘The Monastery of Eski Gümüş - A Preliminary Report’ Anatolian Studies 14: 147-161

Gough, M. 1965: ‘The Monastery of Eski Gümüş – Second Preliminary Report’ Anatolian Studies 15: 157-164

1966: ‘Report of the Council of Management and of the Director for 1965’ Anatolian Studies 16: 9

See also:

Gough, M. 1965: The Monastery Church of Eski Gümüş. New York

Belongs to;
Conservation & Restoration
Cultural Heritage Management

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