Nearly 2,000 historical artifacts returned to Turkey

22nd, 2011
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Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has brought 1,883 historical artifacts, which had earlier been stolen from Turkey, back home this year.

A total of 3,610 historical artifacts that were illegally taken out of the country returned to Turkey between 2007 and 2010, according to a written statement issued by the ministry. While stating that the highest figure of the past eight years was achieved this year, the ministry said Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay is hoping to get back a ceramic board that belongs to the tomb of Sultan Selim II. The board is currently on display in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Among the recently reacquired historical artifacts is the Boğazköy Sphinx, returned by German authorities in addition to 17 others returning from England.

The ministry is also trying to get back seven other prominent historical artifacts, including an altar of Zeus, a statue of an old fisherman from Aphrodisias in southwestern Turkey, the Hacı Bayram Veli Tomb, the mihrab (niche) of Konya’s Beyhekim Mosque, Troy artifacts and others — four from the US, four from Denmark, three from Bulgaria, three from England, two from France, one from Ireland, one from Portugal, one from Italy, one from Scotland, one from Russia and one from Ukraine.

The Culture and Tourism Ministry has long been struggling against the smuggling of historical artifacts and working on the retrieval of stolen ones. For this reason inventory information and photographs of stolen historical artifacts are sent to all museum authorities affiliated with the ministry, private museum administrations and collectors. The ministry also issues announcements on its website. Customs officers are also warned against any possible smuggling.

If stolen artifacts are found abroad, the ministry, with the help of reports prepared by scientists and Turkey’s museum authorities, starts negotiations with the related people at institutions that hold the artifacts in their collections. If a compromise cannot be accomplished through mutual discussion, the ministry starts legal action via Turkish consulates and embassies in the relevant country.

Resource: Today’s Zaman

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