Turkish Prime Minister Nails Giant Campaign Banner onto Ancient Roman Aqueduct

Turkey's ruling AKP Party has come under fire for the stunt Photo: Ozan Kose via AFP Photo

Lagging behind in the polls, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has nailed a giant political banner across the UNESCO-listed Valens Aqueduct to bolster his electoral campaign, AFP reports.

The banner, which appeared last week, features Davutoğlu’s face and proclaims “Together More Powerful” and “Turkey’s Decision. A Continuation of Growth.”

The stunt has outraged archaeologists, who are criticizing Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Built by the Romans in the 4th century, the aqueduct has become one of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks.

The Valens Aqueduct was built by the Romans in 378 CE Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Valens Aqueduct was built by the Romans in 368 CE
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“The banner not only causes physical damage to the structure but also covers up an important part of the city’s cultural heritage and has a negative affect on the perception of cultural assets,” Turkey’s Association of Archaeologists said in a statement.

They also pointed out that the stunt “turns the Valens Aqueduct—which is public and has a universal value like all cultural assets—into a propaganda tool.”

The campaign stunt to promote Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu backfired Photo: Balkan Inside

The campaign stunt to promote Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu backfired
Photo: Balkan Inside

Meanwhile, keen to capitalize on the gaffe, opposition supporters are fanning the flames of the faux pas. Mocking a popular AKP slogan, “They talk but the AKP acts”, the pro-opposition news site Diken announced “They talk but the AKP acts—and nailed a giant banner into the 1,637-year-old Valens Aqueduct!”

The Valens Aqueduct was part of a sophisticated water network built by the Romans to supply Constantinople with fresh water. Today it stands over Istanbul’s busy Ataturk Bulvar, one of the city’s main thoroughfares.

The gaffe is the latest in a series of political blunders committed by the AKP against art and culture (see Turkish President Erdogan Fined for Insulting Sculpture Celebrating the Reconciliation Between Turkey and Armenia and Caricaturists Fined For Portraying Turkish President Erdogan as Gay).


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