Hercules sarcophagus returning home to Turkey on Sept 13
ANKARAThere are just days for the Roman sarcophagus of Hercules to return to its home in Turkey. The precious Roman-era sarcophagus will return to its home in the Mediterranean province of Antalya on Sept. 13, some 50 years after it was smuggled abroad.
Considered a major archaeological find, the sarcophagus depicts the 12 labors of Hercules and was sequestered at the Geneva Freeport warehouse complex in 2010.
In March 2011, the Swiss federal culture office said the sarcophagus came from Turkey, from the ancient city of Dokimion - present day Antalya province. In October 2013, the magistrate in charge of the case traveled to Turkey to hear witnesses and examine evidence.
And in 2015, a Swiss public prosecutor ordered the return of the sarcophagus to Turkey. The two countries agreed on the display of the sarcophagus for three months at Geneva University.
In a statement on Sept. 9, the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry said the sarcophagus was packed in Geneva to be delivered on Sept. 13 to Turkey under the sponsorship of Turkish Airlines.
It is an object of “priceless cultural value,” according to Geneva authorities. The sarcophagus was sculpted toward the end of the second century, when the area was under Roman rule, and part of the inventory of Phoenix Ancient Art which specializes in antiquities.
Turkey has sought to get the sarcophagus back since 2011.
Many Turkish historical artifacts had been smuggled abroad since Ottoman times and were exhibited in some major museums despite being stolen.
Culture and tourism officials have hoped this case would set an example for other countries’ museums, many of which hold artifacts smuggled from Turkey.