ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency
Police have detained two Syrians for selling historic coins called “sikke” from the Ottoman era in Istanbul, while 500 historic coins as well as modern currency were also confiscated in the raid.
The two Syrians, identified as M.B. and K.B., were detained after police raided a house in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district after a tip was shared that historic coins were being smuggled.
In the raid, police confiscated 500 historic coins dating back to the time of Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecit, together with 119,000 euros, 134,500 Turkish Liras and $4,250, all in cash, as well as a weapon and ammunition.
The 31st sultan of the Ottoman Empire
and the 110th Islam Caliph, Sultan Abdülmecit reigned over the empire between 1839 and 1861, when he died of tuberculosis in Istanbul. He was most known for proclaiming the Edict of Tanzimat (Tanzimat Fermanı), which was a package of reforms launched in an effort to keep the empire, which was shattering with nationalist movements across its lands, together.
It is not known how the Syrian smugglers acquired the historic coins and to whom they were selling them. Turkey has become a famous transition point for smugglers, who especially are interested in antiquities looted from Syria after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) began to take control of the country’s historic areas.
Trade in antiquities is one of ISIL’s main sources of funding, along with oil and kidnapping. The U.N. Security Council had banned in February all trade in artifacts from Syria.