Turkey gets mosaic from Dallas Museum

Turkey gets mosaic from Dallas Museum

DALLAS - The Associated Press
Turkey gets mosaic from Dallas Museum

The mosaic, which is 1.5-by-1.5-meter, depicts the mythic poet Orpheus calming wild animals by playing his lyre. The mosaic decorated a Roman building. AP photo

The Dallas Museum of Art has returned an ancient mosaic to Turkish officials after discovering it was stolen.

The mosaic was returned to Turkish officials at a ceremony Decmeber 3 in Dallas. Museum officials also launched an international cultural exchange that will include loaning works of art and sharing expertise. The first initiative will be with Turkey.

The museum bought the roughly 5-foot-by-5-foot(1.5-by-1.5-meter) Orpheus Mosaic at a public auction in 1999.

The mosaic depicts the mythic poet Orpheus calming wild animals by playing his lyre. It originally decorated the floor of a Roman building.

But the museum discovered evidence earlier this year that it was possibly stolen from an archaeological site. Museum officials then consulted Turkish officials, who provided photographic evidence documenting the looting. The DMA’s willingness to part with the mosaic is significant in light of Turkey’s other efforts to repossess stolen antiquities, which have not been met with the same apparent enthusiasm for repatriation of antiquities and collaboration, dmagazine.com has reported.

Over the past year, Turkey has threatened to withhold art loans or archaeological permits, among other tactics, in an effort to pressure some of the world’s top museums to return looted objects that sit in their collections. Speaking at the conference, Sabiha al-Khemir, the DMA’s new senior advisor for Islamic Art, said Turkey was a country whose culture had always straddled the East and the West, making it a perfect partner for the launching of the new exchange and the museum’s new focus on Islamic art. “Islamic culture presented in Dallas in an engaging way to open a door to a culture that could benefit from being better known.”