Turkish manuscripts returned from US
KONYA – Anadolu Agency
Konya Governor Muammer Erol presented a plaque to Hüseyin Şen for his help in the return of the manuscripts. AA PhotosTwo manuscripts, stolen from the Yusuf Ağa Manuscript Library in the central Anatolian province of Konya, were found in a private collection of a university in the U.S. Thanks to one Turkish student’s unrelenting research, the artifacts were returned to Turkey.
Utrecht University PhD student Hüseyin Şen realized two manuscripts from the Seljuk era were in the Lawrence J. Schoenberg collection at the University of Pennsylvania Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, after researching birdhouses for his wife.
Şen immediately contacted Sare Davutoğlu, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s wife, who in turn contacted Konya Manuscripts Library Director Bekir Şahin and Ministry of Culture and Tourism officials. An examination revealed that the artifacts in the US were two of 103 manuscripts and seven books printed in Arabic that had been stolen from Konya in 2000.
The manuscripts, “El-İşaret Ve’t-Tenbihat Fi’l-Mantık” and “Miftahu’l-Ulum,” were returned to Turkey on June 22, and after an initiation, put back in the library.
During his visit to Konya, Prime Minister Davutoğlu paid a visit to the Yusuf Ağa Manuscript Library to examine the manuscripts.
Found while searching for Ottoman birdhouses
Speaking to the press, Şen said his wife was interested in the Ottoman bird houses and he had been helping her in her studies when he out one of the manuscripts he was researching had been stolen from the Konya Yusuf Ağa Library. “It included details about the date of the book and the number of its lines. I then went to the ministry’s site and searched for information about the stolen manuscripts. I confirmed the information; there was a huge resemblance,” he said.
Şen said because he was a bookworm, he collected catalogues of important collections, and continued:
“I started searching [my] catalogues and decided the book was the one stolen from Konya. Further searches revealed the second manuscript. I [contacted] the officials. It should be revealed how two books were moved to the U.S.”
In addition to the manuscripts, 64 book covers were also stolen, Şahin said, adding, “New covers have been produced out of the stolen covers. They divided the books into two and sold them differently. Two stolen covers were returned to Turkey with these books.”
He said that although the books were well restored, a phrase on one of the book’s first page had been erased, a detail that helped prove that the books belonged to Turkey. He also thanked the University of Pennsylvania officials.
Konya Governor Muammer Erol presented a plaque to Şen for his help in the return of the artifacts.