108-year-old Sumerologist credits Istanbul museum for long career

Muazzez Ilmiye Çığ is a 108-year-old Turkish archaeologist specializing in the study of Sumerian civilization. Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) in an exclusive interview, Çığ, who has made important contributions to scientific studies in sumerology with his world-renowned work, said that working in museums instead of following a career in academia had changed his life. She said the work she has done in museums is what brought her to her specialty.

Çığ was born in the northwest of Bursa province in 1914 to Crimean Tatar parents, both of whose families immigrated to Turkey. After completing her primary education in the northern province of Çorum, Çığ graduated from a primary teacher training center at the age of 17. Raising children for nearly five years in Eskişehir, she then enrolled in the Hittitology-Sumerology Department of the Faculty of Languages ​​at Ankara University. , History and Geography in 1936. Noting that she is extremely happy to have chosen sumerology in her studies, Çığ said: “After I graduated from the department, our German professor wanted me to stay in university. . I didn’t want to because I was engaged at the time. I thought to myself “what if my fiancé can’t stay in college so I can become an academician?” “Then they assigned me to the archaeological museums in Istanbul.”

Sumerologist Muazzez Ilmiye Çığ, 108, speaks during an interview with Anadolu agency, Mersin, southern Turkey, December 24, 2021 (AA Photo)

Sumerologist Muazzez Ilmiye Çığ, 108, speaks during an interview with Anadolu agency, Mersin, southern Turkey, December 24, 2021 (AA Photo)

Çığ thinks that his mission at the museum was a big turning point in his life: “It was the greatest period of my life. The work I did there brought me to today. It was a great time. We have written many articles and found an opportunity to work with foreigners. According to the sumerologist, she and her colleagues wrote eight books for those who studied Sumerian science during their stay at the archaeological museums in Istanbul.

Çığ can no longer continue her studies in sumerology, but she says that she follows the books published in this field. According to her, there aren’t many people working on sumerology, either at home or abroad. “Although all the culture of mankind started from Sumer, there are not enough people studying this civilization. The West found the mother of all its culture in the Greeks. Today, it turns out that the mother of all cultures are the Sumerians, for this reason we need to know more about them.

Although well known in the field of sumerology, Çığ doesn’t think there is anything special about her. “I’m only happy when I see my books are read and they show interest,” she said. She added that the secret to success is to work without thinking. “Young people should be working without thinking about things like ‘What’s going to happen now? What am I going to do with it? “I have worked hard, very hard throughout my career.”

Sumerologist Muazzez Ilmiye Çığ, 108, poses at her home during an interview with Anadolu agency, Mersin, southern Turkey, December 24, 2021 (AA Photo)

Sumerologist Muazzez Ilmiye Çığ, 108, poses at her home during an interview with Anadolu agency, Mersin, southern Turkey, December 24, 2021 (AA Photo)

Çığ also added that women have made great strides all over the world over the years, and there are women who are doing extremely well in science, technology, art and all fields and receiving awards. today. She also said it took 80 years for Turkish women to make the strides Europe made in the Renaissance in 400 years, praising the efforts of the country and its women.

Asked about Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, Çığ said that Atatürk wanted to teach society about its language, history and culture. “That is why he founded the Faculty of Language, History and Geography at Ankara University. The faculty only aimed to train staff and people to teach language, history and culture. Turkish culture.How would these children learn who the Turks were? All the nations that the Turks had dealings with from their sources. The Turks had relations mainly with the Chinese. They also had relations with the Russians, the Arabs, Greeks and Hungarians. All resources belonging to these nations and containing information about Turks have been added to the collection of the faculty. Thus, Atatürk made a very important contribution to Turkish culture, “he said. -she explains.

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