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Istanbul began its importance after Diocletian divided the Roman Empire into East and West, and the Emperor Constantine subsequently established the city of Constantinople in AD330. When it fell to the Ottomans, Byzantine scholars headed for Italy where they were much in demand for their knowledge of the Classical world, which helped to fuel the Renaissance. Venice, Genoa, the Kingdom of Naples, the Papal States… Italy’s former powers litter Turkey’s history books as trade and conflict in the Mediterranean came and went in favour, and Barbary Corsairs nipped at the heel and toe of the south. During the Turco-Italian war of 1911-12, Italy gained Libya and the Dodecanese islands from Turkey, giving Italian archaeologists access to Classical sights. Italian archaeologists continue to work in Anatolia, and their recent discoveries include the Gates of Hell in Pamukkale and two sunken Roman ships near Mersin. Art and antiquities have been the currency of Italy for centuries, and Christie’s and Sotheby’s are both represented in the larger cities, while fairs in the trade halls of Milan and elsewhere offer the opportunity for carpet buying.
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