Title page; Goddess from Anatolia; volume one; inscribed by authors James Mellaart, udo Hirsch and Belkis Balpinar to RK
RK feels we need to take a step back here before going forward to discuss, as briefly as possible mind you, the process that led us to study near eastern, and particularly Anatolian, neolithic and early bronze age(EBA) archaeology and the relationship objects made during these important periods in human developmental history have with Anatolian kelim and other weaving.
After the night of ’59 Lafite we waited about a month to actually get our hands on the two kelim we purchased.
The seller had Polaroid pics in his bag but he didn’t have the pieces with him – they were overseas at his place, and we trusted him enough to give him payment the next day with his promise to turn them over to us when he returned to Europe.
After paying, we arranged for a girlfriend of ours, Hilary, to pick them up from him and then to fly her, and the two kelim, to New York.
So about a fortnight after making the deal the seller handed the kelim over to Hilary, and a couple of weeks later she was in our apartment in Greenwich Village and the two kelim were hanging on our wall.
Some months, thereafter, on one of our frequent trips to the old country, we purchased three more, now immortalized as Plates numbers four, five and eight in volume two of our Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim book and they, too, were soon hanging on the walls of our floor-thru apartment in Greenwich Village.
Plate 8; early classic period; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
RK spent many hours looking at these kelim, and from the get-go they confused us – what were those fantastic patterns with icon and motif we had never seen on any other kelim or pile rugs.
Now, remember, this is late spring 1980 and RK had already been seriously collecting and studying historic carpets since 1969, had a good library of rug and textile books, had been to many museum and private collection, and had immersed ourself in rug studies with a passion.
But these kelim, and their amazingly unique iconography, made us feel we knew nothing about a subject we had already spent 10 years working on.
Detail; Plate 8; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
One evening in a marvelous state of heightened awareness we suddenly flashed on a concept that, the next morning, we began put into motion.
Somehow that night the word Egypt entered our consciousness in relation to our questions about the kelim, and within a week we traveled to Washington DC to spend 10 days working at the Library of Congress where, we hoped, we would find information to explain our ‘feeling’ the iconography on the kelim we now owned had its roots.
We also hoped to find enough information to use as reference material in a kelim book we wanted to publish about our Anatolian kelim collection.
RK recognized the growing interest in historic rugs, kelim, soumak and other textiles and we wanted to contribute; and publishing a book on our kelim collection was one possible publishing project we were considering.
Another was for our extensive collection of masterpiece Kashmir shawls, which in fact, we had already made some serious inroads into starting.
But back to Anatolian kelim: So we reserved a room in the Hay-Adams Hotel, which was by the way right across Pennsylvania Ave from the White House for our 10 day stay.
When RK checked in, we were given a wonderful room, in the front of the hotel, with two large windows that looked out onto the White House lawn.
Polaroid photo RK made of the view from our room at the Hay-Adams; notice the protest tents in the right foreground, think anyone could be staying in a tent on the White House lawn today?
We could also see the main front door and columned porch across the street, and that view of the lawn greeted us each day when we opened the curtains.
We had driven down to DC, but each morning we had a taxi pick us up at 9 am to take us to the Library, return at 12 noon to take us to lunch, then at 2pm or so returning us back to the Library, and at 5pm back to the hotel.
At the time a friend of ours, Monseff, was the chef/owner of a very famous restaurant Maison Blanche and we ate all our meals there, with him cooking us some fine meals and sometimes joining us for lunch or dinner to chit-chat.
Monseff liked old Bordeaux wines and RK brought a few bottles with us for Monseff and RK to enjoy together, as we always share the wines we would bring to a restaurant with the chef.
That’s how we became friendly with him, and many other great chefs we have shared good times and great meals with…but we digress.
While in the Library of Congress we came across a number of books and made many notes, interestingly enough this was the first time we discovered the work of James Mellaart, the world famous and highly controversial neolithic and EBA writer and scholar.
Archaeologist James Mellaart working to carefully uncover a wall-painting, from under layers of later white washed pigment, at Catal Huyuk circa 1963
But the import of that discovery, and Mellaart’s work, passed us by, as we were concentrating on early Dynastic and pre-dynastic Egypt, and the notes we made on the Catal Huyuk book Mellaart authored, got filed away and then forgotten.
Our 10 day stay in D.C. filled RK with information and ideas, but over the next months of more research, thinking and re-reading our notes and memories we knew we had not found the key to unlock the ‘secret’ of what the kelim we owned were all about.
Again a chance occurrence, like having that first early kelim spread at our feet some years before, played an significant role in our search.
While talking to an acquaintance, who had a strong academic background, we inquired if he had a friend who was an ‘Egyptologist’ who could help us learn more to solve our riddle; after all pre-Dynastic Egypt is a huge topic and one RK had absolutely no knowledge of, or previous history studying.
He said he didn’t have a ‘friend’ but he did know of a man named James Mellaart.
This was in London in the late fall of 1981, and when we asked him how to contact Mellaart he bruskly said “Look in the phone book”
We asked for the correct spelling and later that day found Mellaart’s number.
We could not wait until the next morning, and at about 9 am we called the number and Mellaart answered.
We immediately mentioned we were researching Egytpian archaeology and wondered if he would have time to meet us.
Mellaart asked us if we were a student and when we said “No, we are doing this for our own edification.” he then asked why.
We then told him about our being an Anatolian kelim collecor and our interest in trying to define the history of the motif and icon on our pieces.
Well the word kelim and the fact, when Mellaart asked what kind of kelim we collected we said very old ones, opened the door with Mellaart.
Little did RK realize the treasure trove of information and knowledge that door would provide.
Mellaart then told us he was a lecturer at the London School of Archaeology and invited us to visit him during his open office hours for his students.
He also said “And be sure to bring those pictures of your kelim collection.”, as we had told him we had large 8x10 color prints of our kelim with us, though the kelim were in N.Y.
We said we’d be delighted to come, and a few days later drove out to Gordon Square and found Mellaart’s office.
We knocked on the door and heard him say come in.
Opening to door we saw Mellaart, who is not tall but a broad and bulky Scotsman with an oversized head and friendly smile.
He had a little unlit cigar in his hand, a desk piled with papers and folders, and an office filled with books everywhere – in book cases lining the walls, on chairs and yard high piles on the floor.
Not to mention the stuffy smoke-filled air, with years of smoke residue on the walls and fresh somewhat unsavory rather stinky smoke still hanging in the air.
We entered this veritable cave of neolithic and EBA knowledge, sat down across from him on the one chair without a pile of books on it and immediately handed him the 8x10’s of our kelim collection.
Mellaart then, without looking at them, put them down on his desk and said “Are you familiar with my work and my publications?”
Not remembering seeing the Catal Huyuk book at the Library of Congress those long months ago, we said, no we weren’t.
Mellaart then stood up, reached onto a shelf next to his desk and proceeded to hand us several heavy books, which we took from his thick stubby hands, and began to leaf through them.
He, meanwhile, began to look at our 8x10’s.
As soon as we opened the Catal Huyuk book we immediately remembered seeing it in Washington, but still its import to our search remained unrecognized.
After maybe 10 minutes or so, Mellaart looked up at us, lit his cigar, took a drag, much to our consternation, and said “These are some very impressive kelim, where and how you get them?”
Frankly we thought this a bit strange but, hell, here we were sitting in front of someone we could tell was an unusual man, who might be able to help us, so we recounted the story -- the one we have written and you all have read.
Mellaart listened intently and then said “You are a lucky man, these are the most impressive kelim I have ever seen” and he proceed to tell us about his ‘small collection’ and his archaeological work and discoveries in Turkey.
We listened, but could hardly wait to ask him some questions we had about Egyptian archaeology but, quite frankly, we couldn’t get a word in as Mellaart went motoring on about his love of kelim that began when he went to work in Turkey, at the British International Institute of Archaeology in Ankara during the 1950’s.
Finally we got the chance and asked him a question.
Mellaart looked a bit surprised and remarked why we were asking such a question of him. We answered because we had heard he was an Egyptologist.
Mellaart then chuckled and said “Well in my undergraduate years I was but in my post-graduate studies and professional career my field focused on Anatolian neolithic and EBA periods."
This was a little embarrassing for RK and we did not know what to say next.
But Mellaart immediately went back to talking of Turkey and his ‘hunt’ for old kelim, and we looked down again at the books in our lap and as the Catal Huyuk one was on the top we began to more intently look at the pictures and captions as Mellaart continued his monologue about kelim and his fascination with them.
Well, right then and there the connection dawned on us and we realized our search for the source of the iconography on our kelim was not ancient Egypt but ancient Anatolia.
Color photo; Leopard Shrine; courtesy and copyright Arlette Mellaart
This realization stunned us speechless, filled our mind with a million questions, and we couldn’t wait to read Mellaart’s work.
Even though we were not too pleased breathing the rather unpleasant smell of Mellaart’s cheap little cigars, we were, after all, no stranger to smoking a cigar once and awhile.
In fact, one of the things we liked about Europe, particularly living in London, was the availability of Havana cigars.
We had developed a liking for those made under the Davidoff label, especially one they called the Latour.
Wanting to ingratiate ourself to Mr Mellaart, who we now saw as a possible collaborator in our kelim book project, we reached into our briefcase, took out two Davidoff’s, the antique sterling silver cigar cutter
we used to nip the tip, and handed it and a Latour to Mellaart.
Jimmy, as Mellaart likes to be called, looked a bit surprised, took the cutter and the Latour and said “Oh, you like to smoke cigars?”
We said yes, occasionally, as he put the cutter down on his desk and, without even taking off the paper band, put the Latour in his mouth, rolled it around on his lips and bit off the tip.
Well, RK thought this was a bit primitive and brutal, but when in Rome do as the Romans, so for the first time we bit the tip of a cigar instead of doing it properly using a sharp cigar cutter, as not to harm the fragile leaf wrapper.
Now this is not the time or place to discuss cigar etiquette but this ain’t the way it’s done, especially with a champion Havana cigar like a Davidoff Latour
Mellaart then lit up, and we did likewise glad to now smell the fragrant and rich smell of Havana tobacco rather than the odoriferous ‘stink’ of Mellaart’s 10 to a 50 pence pack.
RK could see Mellaart was an appreciator of a fine cigar by the way he held and gazed at the Latour, in spite of his brutal way of nipping the tip.
RK could also see this little piece of generosity was much appreciated as well.
We began to talk and Mellaart’s monologue became a conversation.
We talked about Turkey and many other things over those cigars.
RK then asked Jimmy if he would consider working with us on our proposed kelim book and he said no, he had no time.
RK doesn’t take no for an answer so quickly and was not going to give up our interest in having him work with us.
RK then asked Jimmy if he would like to have lunch with us one day soon, and he said “Well, maybe, but how about you coming to dinner at our house, my wife is a great cook”
He also said he would like her to see the 8x10’s as she shared his interest and love of Anatolian kelim.
RK then said to Jimmy we were kinda particular about what we ate, we did not eat meat or eggs, so it might be easier to have a lunch together in a restaurant where RK knew he could get what he liked.
“Do you like Italian food? RK asked “Because my favorite Italian restaurant, Cicconi’s, has outstanding food I am sure you'd enjoy”.
Mellaart might have smoked cheap cigars and on his small salary as a lecturer not had the money to eat in restaurants but he was a gourmet, and a fairly knowledgeable one at that.
Being so, he knew of Cicconi’s, and let’s just say RK could see his mouth water and he said. “OK, I’d like to join you but I can only make it on Thursday, not this week but the next. Will that be OK?”
RK said “Sure, whenever you like is fine with me”, and after some more interesting palavering with Jimmy we left, arranging to meet at Cicconi’s.
We had a great lunch, RK arranged to bring a bottle of old burgundy with us and, after the meal, we produced another pair of Latours to share with Jimmy.
At that lunch Mellaart began to informally tutor RK on the ins and outs of Anatolian neolithic and EBA archaeology.
Jimmy’s knowledge of the subject was encyclopedic and his delivery interesting and engaging – he amazed us at that meal and in the many, many subsequent discussions we had.
After our lunch Mellaart then insisted we come to dinner at his home and, of course we accepted.
Mellaart’s charming and equally as fascinating wife, Arlette, cooked us a great meal -- Scottish salmon --, we brought two bottles of old Bordeaux with us, and our 8x10’s.
So started a friendship that remains one of the closest and dearest RK has with anyone we met our rug world travels.
We are not going to get into the sticky wicket of discussing Mellaart’s errors in presenting himself to the rug world.
And although RK readily admits Mellaart made unbelievably serious errors of professional judgment in those efforts, and we will explain a bit more about this here and now, it is stupid, myopic and absurd to brand him a cheat or a liar.
Even more so to ignore his tremendous contributions to Anatolian archaeology, and the large number of important book and research papers he has authored.
To make a very long collaboration, and friendship, concise for the purposes of this
text, let RK just say from that lunch at Cicconi’s until the icoc conference at the Barbican center in 1983 RK worked on trying to get Mellaart to co-author our book on kelim.
We wanted to have him write on archaeology and we would interpret his archaeological material as it pertained to, and illuminated, the iconography on our collection of archetypal Anatolian kelim.
Mellaart never changed his initial position -- he had no time to write for us --but he was extremely open and generous to informally tutor our study and progressing knowledge of neolithic and EBA Anatolian and eastern Mediterranean archaeology.
But in 1983 that position changed and again a chance occurrence was the catalyst.
In 1982 and 1983 RK was still on speaks with michael franses but, as we wrote earlier, things between us were somewhat strained though no so much to make RK not share with franses our discovery of our archetype kelim.
RK well remembers the first time we showed him photos of the first two that much later in time would be published as Plates 1 & 2 in our Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim book.
RK was rather nonplussed by franses’s rather stupid statement “These are mirror pieces” he said.
When RK inquired what he meant franses’s ridiculous comment was “You’ll need a mirror to look at them” and he laughed that nervous, insecure laugh anyone who knows him will understand.
RK has often commented on franses’s lack of higher education, not even graduating from the English equivalent of high school before going to work with his wonderful father, Robert, who had all the human qualities his son sorely lacks.
This lack of education is a sever handicap – one his ‘success’ as a purveyor of rugs has, and will never, assuage.
It also prevents him from understanding the subtle nuance necessary for non-urban rug studies, and his sarcastic remark about our two kelim demonstrated this and will haunt him forever.
RK, over the next months, told him of our meeting James Mellaart and our desire to have Mellaart work with us on our proposed kelim book, which we also mentioned to franses.
Now we did not introduce Mellaart and his work to franses, robert pinner gets credit for that, but our involvement with Mellaart was something michael I want to be the center of everything in the rug world franses did not miss, so he invited Mellaart to give a short talk as one of the many presenters at the Barbican Center icoc 1983 conference
RK's badge; Barbiacan icoc; London 1983
Mellaart had told us of his acceptance of the offer to speak, and RK arranged to take Jimmy and Arlette to a nice lunch after his talk.
We arranged to meet up in the large rotunda lobby of the Barbican at noon on the day Mellaart’s talk had been scheduled.
Knowing we would not have time enough to go for lunch at one of our usual haunts in the West End, and also knowing there were going to be no excellent meals available near the Barbican(things were very different in this east end part of London 26 years ago), we settled on taking the Mellaarts to lunch at the Savoy Hotel.
RK well knew the food there was not going to be up the standards we liked, and Arlette could turn out of her kitchen, but the Savoy Hotel is another of those old Victorian period gande dame kinda places and the ambiance of the large formal dining, the table accoutrement and old-style impeccable service would surely make up for the lack of culinary expertise.
We also arranged to have a black cab, as they are known in London, waiting for us at the front door to wisk us away from the hustle and bustle of the icoc conference and take us to the Savoy, which was way far to walk, especially with Jimmy and Arlette in tow.
RK and the Mellaarts met up at noon and were just getting ready to leave the rotunda when RK spotted Belkis Balpinar and her boyfriend, udo hirsch, in the crowd.
RK knew Belkis prior to our trip to Turkey in 1980 but we did not know her well, only becoming far more acquainted with her when we visited the Vakiflar museum several times and she was kind enough to spend time with RK showing us around the museum and also allowing us to see many pieces in the museum’s reserve storage.
Belkis Balpinar during the photo shoot in the courtyard of the Sultan Ahmet; notice the kelim on the ground; Plate 14, Vakiflar Museum Kelim book Flatweaves/Flachgewebe, published 1982
On that visit to Istanbul we also met hirsch for the first time.
As soon as RK saw them, we motioned for them to come over and as they did we started to introduce them to the Mellaarts.
RK did not realize James and Areltte knew Belkis and started to immediately talk with her in Turkish.
RK then invited Belkis and hirsch to accompany us to lunch at the Savoy, they accepted, and we all got into the black cab and on the ride to lunch there was much excited talk about kelim and everyone’s interest in them.
During the meal RK began to see a collaboration brewing and at the end, as the dessert dishes were being removed, RK stood up, took a fork, clicked it on a glass -- Ding Ding -- and made the announcement “Guess what, we are all going to make a book about Anatolian kelim together.”
Silence, then Mellaart looked at Belkis, Belkis looked at RK and quite honestly the deal was done.
Over the next few days, and after several ensuing meetings between Mellaart, Belkis and RK, with Arlette and hirsch in attendance, we made an agreement to work together.
RK was going to be the organizer, publisher and co-author the book with them.
Before Balpinar and hirsch left London to return to Turkey, RK had our lawyer, Richard Price, draw up contracts; RK paid Mellaart, Balpinar and hirsch, who we all agreed would also author part of the book, an advance; the contract was signed and we all went to off to work on our book tentatively titled 9000 Years of Anatolian Kelim.
Originally setting a date two years hence for the completion of our work, as things turned out it was not until four years later Mellaart and Balpinar’s parts were completed – Mellaart writing about the archaeological connection and Balpinar writing about contemporary field work on kelim weaving in Anatolia.
RK’s contribution, along with hirsch, was going to be presentation of research to bridge the gap between Mellaart’s Neolithic/EBA material and Balpinar’s contemporary Anatolian field work.
Over that four-year period, RK worked closely with hirsch, and an initial friendship deepened into one of broad dimension where RK shared many confidences.
Also during those four years, RK met innumerable times with Mellaart to discuss the project and his contribution, as well as meeting with Balpinar and hirsch in Germany.
After a number of later meetings with Mellaart, where his increasing propensity to produce new ‘reconstructions’ of his original material from Çatal Hüyük concerned us, RK became more and more wary of the validity of these new ‘drawings’.
Questionable reconstruction “vulture shrine”
Mellaart worked four seasons at Catal Huyuk and RK knowledge of Jimmy’s extensive and meticulously well-documented preliminary excavation reports, published after each season’s work in Anatolian Studies, the journal of the British International Institute of Archaeology in Ankara, put us at ease for a long time.
Color photo showing vulture wall-painting at Catal Huyuk; courtesy and copyright Arlette Mellaart
Those reports, from the ‘digs’ in 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1965, were the basis of the popular book called Çatal Hüyük: A Neolithic Town in Anatolia, published by Tames and Hudson, in both English and German, in 1967.
They provided an unassailable record of Mellaart’s work, as does his book Excavations at Hacilar published in 1970, and we put at the back of our mind our concerns about the new reconstructions not wanting to demand “proof” from Jimmy, trusting his verbal explanations.
Color photo; Bull shrine wall-relief at Catal Huyuk; courtesy and copyright Arlete Mellaart
Mellaart also authored the most widely used textbook on Near Eastern Archaeology Neolithic of the Near East published in 1975, also by Thames and Hudson.
To say Mellaart is one of, if not the most important expert on neolithic and EBA Anatolian archaeology, is not a statement anyone could refute, and RK just could not bring ourself to put Mellaart on the defensive by demanding more than his word.
But, and it’s a big but, had we known Mellaart’s work in reference to Anatolian kelim, which would be first published in a short paper for a German rug dealer’s catalog and then his contribution to the book we all were working on, would be as weak and unbelievably unprofessional as it turned out to be, RK would have hauled him on the carpet for both his own sake and our's as well.
RK will not explain the reasons, and trust us we know all about it, behind Jimmy’s imaginative new ‘drawings’, nor will be explain Mellaart’s equally damaging former difficulties in connection to the Dorak Affair, an episode that became an international sensation of immense proportions in 1959.
But we believed, and still do, to throw the baby out with the bath-water and overlook Mellaart’s outstanding career, his discoveries of Çatal Hüyük and Hacilar, is absurd, no matter how grave his lapse of professionalism with Anatolian kelim became.
Let’s get back on track recounting RK’s involvement with Mellaart and Balpinar and the organizing, sponsoring and planning to publish the proposed 9000 Years of Anatolian Kelim book project.
One day, near the end of the project, while waiting for Mellaart to finish up with a student, who was in his office at the London School of Archaeology, RK walked down the hall and noticed a large cork bulletin board on the wall.
Walking up closer we saw it was filled with a number of brand new reconstructed ‘drawings’ of Çatal Hüyük we had never seen and, gulp, our heart sank.
RK knew then and there Jimmy had allowed his imagination to over-run his judgment, and our project was in seriously dire straits, as Mellaart’s work was the center.
Some minutes later, upon entering his office we immediately asked Mellaart about the drawings, particularly one that showed a volcano and people scattered about in the foreground, and another of people dancing and making love.
Mellaart then started telling us about the volcano, a documented neolithic period eruption, but his words fell on deaf ears as all we could think about was how this nonsense was jeopardizing all RK’s years of work, all the respect and confidence RK had placed in Mellaart and, of course, the 9000 Years of Anatolian Kelim book project.
RK was devastated like at no time in our life but, sometimes, from the seeds of destruction, come even greater gains.
This was the attitude and mind-set we adopted as we left Jimmy’s office and walked around Gordon Square to our car for the drive back to The Boltons, where we were living.
But we’ve jumped ahead of the unfolding story again, so let’s get back to it.
As our friendship with hirsch developed and deepened RK had kept him abreast of our plans to work with the necessary experts to produce a book with first-rate printing and color plates.
After determining the best printing and color separating was done in Italy, in and around the city of Verona which lies almost exactly half-way between Milan and Venice, we went there a number of times to interview and met with a number of ‘foto-litho’ firms, color separators in English, and ‘prenota stampante’, book printers in English.
RK doesn’t speak Italian (but we did learn some in working there on our books) and sometimes traveling to and from Italy we would stop in Adaneau, Germany where hirsch lived when he was not in Turkey.
So over the four years RK worked on the 9000 Years of Anatolian Kelim project we spent a bit of time with hirsch discussing the project and both our parts in authoring what RK called the bridge material.
But after that final straw of seeing those ‘drawings’ on the bulletin, we started to think of a plan of action to recoup as much as possible from all the work RK had done and still hold up to our agreement to publish the book.
We knew things were starting to unravel and at what was intended to be the final meeting in London, when Mellaart and Balpinar were to produce their “finished texts”, which was about a month after the bulletin board shock, RK was prepared for the dropping of the second shoe.
We, RK and hirsch were also to bring our “finished”work, and we did, but since we could not know how to break up our texts to align themselves with what Jimmy and Belkis were to produce, we were kinda off the hook not having our work in a really finished ‘state’.
RK will never forget taking Jimmy and Belkis’s texts back to The Bolton with us to review for the meeting the next day and, after reading what they produced, we were now totally disappointed to say the least.
First off Mellaart’s had not one footnote, no bibliography and almost his entire text was was a ‘discussion’ of the new drawings and reconstructions, without hardly anything about Anatolian archaeology or discussion of genuine documented archaeological remains.
Questionable reconstruction; Goddess in a niche
Then, reading Balpinar’s seriously flawed and incomplete work, which also lacked viable references not to mention little original research about kelim weaving and instead lots of ‘hearsay’ chatter she recorded from contemporary weavers about ‘old kelim’, RK was, to say the least, now totally dismayed and downright worried.
The next morning, as RK drove over to the Sunday luncheon meeting at Mellaart’s house, we still did not know what to do, or how to do it, to try and salvage the book.
But RK likes pressure and is accustomed to thinking on our feet, so after pleasantries, and a delicious lunch Arlette had prepared, RK took Belkis and Jimmy into the living-room while hirsch volunteered to help Arlette clear the table and wash the dishes.
As we sat there in silence for a few minutes, RK decided we were not going to critique and criticize Mellaart; after all who were we to rebuke a world famous archaeologist who was our dear friend?
So we turned to Balpinar and dug into her and the inferior work she produced.
Fact is after we got done with her, she started crying and left the living-room and hid herself in the bathroom for at least a half hour or more.
RK wasn’t afraid of Mellaart, who really deserved equal treatment, however, we knew he could not take it and RK did not want to loose the friendship we had carefully developed.
To this day RK regrets not slapping Mellaart with the same stiff, critical and harsh words we used on Balpinar.
Perhaps had we his career might have been spared the abject rejection and criticism he received from the archaeological community when his loony text appeared in The Goddess from Anatolia.
Again, we chose to keep a friend over possibly losing one, and who really knows what fireworks reading Mellaart the riot act might have ignited.
Regardless, reading the riot act to Balpinar, which she later profusely thanked RK for, pushed her to produce an outstanding text for what became The Goddess from Anatolia book.
In fact it is the only worthwhile piece in the four volumes.
But RK is getting ahead of the story, so lets finish it up as it went down.
After that Sunday luncheon meeting at Mellaart’s place all the participants agreed to immediately set even harder to work and finish up their respective parts and while RK was not convinced it could be saved we had to go along, as we had instigated the project and were contractually bound to publish it.
We all agreed to meet back in London in “a few months time” but possibilities of salvaging the project, after the bulletin board episode and then receiving poorly written texts, seemed impossible and RK made up our mind to extricate ourself, as gracefully as possible, from this sinking ship.
RK mentioned Mellaart was not the only one to shake our confidence in the project and let’s briefly explain.
As our relationship with hirsch progressed he kept trying, at first quite gently and then more strongly as time went on, to involved himself in the publishing end of the book.
At first RK was not bothered by this but then and since we had the financial burden and were spending a lot of time learning about book publishing, we began to be disturbed by hirsch’s constant back seat driver ‘suggestions’ and seemingly endless ideas how and where to produce it.
When RK decided to extricate ourself from the project, after the bulletin board fiasco, we eventually came up with an idea that, we believed , would make everyone happy and still honor RK’s agreements to our co-authors.
Now as an aside, RK had known johnny eskenazi for many years and had always gotten along well with him.
RK visited his former gallery on via Montenapoleone in Milan many times, in fact, it was there were met young kelim dealer jorg rageth for the first time.
Like with franses, RK knew johnny’s lovely wife Fausta, but also like franses we never went to a restaurant, a club or any event with eskenazi.
But unlike our ‘relationship’ with franses, we never were invited to visit johnny’s home, nor did we ever do any business with him.
Regardless of this lack of involvement, RK and eskenazi got along well enough because he, unlike franses, is a far warmer, charming and personable man; plus far more educated, erudite and wordly.
All that said RK always sensed there was a wall between us, and now in years of hindsight we realize that wall was franses – his fear of our person and his paranoia of RK’s abilities.
RK knew at the time franses and eskenazi were, and we are sure still are, very close and we are also sure franses poisoned and muddied the water between johnny and RK to prevent us from ever becoming better friends.
Although eskenazi never breached this with us, neither did we with him, RK knew there was something, but that something did not prevent RK from approaching eskenazi with the plan we had formulated to extricate ourself from the 9000 Years of Anatolian Kelim project.
So RK went off to Milan and arranged a meeting with eskenazi where we proposed he take over the project, and work with junior publisher hirsch, who he had an even better relationship with than RK.
To make this short, eskenazi agreed and we then sold our contractual rights to the project to hirsch with several stipulations:
1. Hirsh was to pay RK back the advances we had given Mellaart, Balpinar and himself.
2. RK would be permitted to use 10 photos from Catal Huyuk in the book we intended to do with the work we had already prepared for the 9000 Years of Anatolan Kelim project
3. On the first page, of the still unnamed book eskenazi and hirsch would produce, the following acknowledgment would appear:
“The authors wish to thank Jack Cassin for the original concept and for the further assistance he has given this project.”
Acknowledgements; volume one The Goddess from Anatolia
That’s what happened and eskenazi/hirsch went on to produce the book under the title of The Goddess from Anatolia.
This is not the place to discuss the immediate and foolish reception it got in rugDUMB where suddenly all talk was centered around goddesses and misunderstood amateurish chatter about ancient this and neolithic that.
Then, as reality set in and people like Murry Eiland rightfully critiqued and rebuked Mellart’s many errors in citation from his original excavation reports, rugDUMB became confused and then bitter.
Huge arguments, some even physical, erupted between the goddess-believers and the goddess debunkers; to say it was a miserable state of affair would be a gross under-statement.
But before the The Goddess from Anatolia was published, RK’s two volume Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim quietly entered the scene.
RK says quietly because we made only 125 copies, they sold for 500 dollars each, and there was no advertising for its publication, just word of mouth among kelim collectors, lovers and dealers.
Suffice it to say in Imge Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim there are NO questionable drawings, no reconstructions, no imaginary references and no silly neolithic attributions or reflections.
RK’s text is 100 percent based on fact and documentation, with original scholarship and careful citation.
The entire text is online and has been since 1997 in the first Weaving Art Museum exhibition Archeology and Slit-Tapestry.
Go read it and see if you have not already.
We are particularly proud of the text description to Plate 1 and, although it was written more than 20 years ago, we still consider it to be among the most important contribution we have made to oriental carpet studies.
RK believed it important to finally and publicly tell the true and unadulterated behind the scene story of how we came to realize the connection between Anatolian neolithic and EBA period archaeological remains and the Anatolian kelim.
It’s a story that is still unfinished and since it has had a long hiatus RK now knows it is the time for us to renew our involvement, and to continue to add our perspective, knowledge and expertise to what we hope and trust will be a rekindling interest in the Anatolian kelim, both for rugDUMB and oriental carpet studies, as well as the far larger worlds of art and art appreciation.
End of Part VI