Hercules’ homecoming draws interest in Antalya Museum
The Roman sarcophagus of Hercules, which returned to Turkey from Switzerland two weeks ago after it had been smuggled abroad some 50 years ago, is seeing huge interest from visitors at the Antalya Museum, its home.
Smuggled from the ancient city of Perge in the 1960s in the southern province of Antalya’s Aksu district and seized in 2010 in Switzerland, the sarcophagus returned home on Sept. 14 after a legal process and began to be displayed at the Antalya Museum with a ceremony held with the participation of Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş.
The museum’s director, Mustafa Demirel, said the number of daily visitors was approximately 150-200 before the return of the sarcophagus, but the number had skyrocketed after its homecoming. “On the first day the sarcophagus went on display, some 1,000 people visited the museum. There is an intense interest from people of all classes. Most of them come to see the Hercules,” he said.
Demirel said the museum is also home to a few types of sarcophaguses from the ancient city of Perge, which are garland, colonnaded and medallion sarcophaguses.
Along with them, there are two more sarcophaguses in the museum, in which the 12 labors of Hercules are defined, adding that one of them was seized when it was smuggled abroad and the other one was unearthed in Perge.
He said the Hercules sarcophagus is not different from the other sarcophaguses in the museum and it depicts the 12 labors of Hercules, too.
“The most important and attractive feature of this sarcophagus is that it was smuggled from our country and returned home again after many efforts and the collaboration of the Culture and Tourism Ministry’s General Directorate of Museums and the Foreign Ministry,” he added.
Next is Sion Treasure
Demirel said the efforts of the Culture and Tourism Ministry for the return of other smuggled artifacts were continuing.
He said the Elmalı Treasure and the top part of the Weary Heracles returned from the U.S. in 1999 and 2011 respectively.
“Some pieces of the sixth-century Sion Treasure, which was found in 1963 in the ancient city of Korydalla in Kumluca and included silver church artifacts, are on display at the Dumbarton Oaks Museum in the U.S. We wish that they will be returned to Turkey,” Demirel said.
The sarcophagus of Hercules is being displayed in a special section in the hall of the other artifacts from Perge.
Carved in the 2nd century A.D., the sarcophagus weighs nearly three tons with a height of approximately 135 centimeters and width of 112 centimeters.
It belongs to the Minor Asia Tombs group and the “Torre Nova” type.