1800-year-old stele on way back from Italy after 23 years
Ömer Erbil – ISTANBUL
“The stele will be delivered to our embassy in Rome on Sept. 19 and will be brought back to Turkey in the following days with Turkish Airlines,” said the ministry in a statement.
The stele is believed to have been stolen from the Apollon Aksyros Temple located in the ancient city of Saittai in the western province of Manisa at the beginning of the 1990s.
In 1997, Italy’s cultural police units (Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale in Italian) found the Lydian stele in a raid on an antique shop and contacted the Turkish Interpol to confirm its origin.
Turkish authorities back then had sent a professor’s academic research, which showed that the stele was from the Saittai ancient city as a proof. But as there was no evidence in the file proving the theft in the 1990s, Italian courts rejected the application to repatriate.
According to daily Hürriyet, the ministry’s legal struggle to claim the stele had started from that point onwards. Over the years, Turkey had sent some other professor’s researches to Italian courts as well. Finally, after 23 years, Italian courts acknowledged Turkey to be right and have decided to return the Lydian stele to its rightful owner.
“At the behest of our ministry and the embassy’s hard work in Rome, the Italian court accepted that the stele was fled from Turkey,” said in the statement.
According to research papers, the inscriptions on the stele describe a story of a fishnet burglary and God’s punishment afterward.
“Melita and Makedon stole Eia’s fishnet and other belongings. Therefore, they were punished by God. Their parents consulted Apollon Aksyros for their sake and made a vow,” wordings engraved on the stele showed, according to the experts.