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The Land Walls


The defensive system added by Theodosius II in the early fifth century combined two lines of defense with a moat. They are perhaps themost significant work of military architecture to come down to us from the Middle Ages. The repairs, additions, inscriptions, and modifications to the walls comprise a dramatic history of the city. They were kept in constant repair throughout the Middle Ages, only to fall to the cannons of Mehmet II in 1453 and, more recentlry, to heavy-handed restorations. The restorations were financed in part by UNESCO, but the exigencies of the municipal authority caused the project to be rushed. The work was divided among eleven contractors, with a "scientific consultant" assigned to each, when one could be located. In most areas, the walls have been overrestored and refaced. Perhaps they now give a clearer idea of how the elaborate defensive system once worked, but all sorts of historical evidence was destroyed in the process. There does not appear to be any coordination between teams, nor a plan for the publication of the results. With the change of government in 1994, the work was abruptly halted. A report on the restoration of the southernmost section (Towers 1-6) has recently been published by M. Ahunbay. The so-called Marble Tower, near the end of the Land Walls at the Sea of Marmara, has been recently identified by U. Peschlow as a Palaiologan residence. Devices associated with the Palaiologos and Cantacuzenos families were noted on the cornices.