Artifacts seized in Istanbul kept in archeology museums’ storages
ÖMER ERBİL - ISTANBUL
Last month, the Istanbul Police Headquarters realized the biggest operation in the history of the Republic and seized 26,456 historical artifacts. Seven people, who had attempted to sell the artifacts, were arrested as part of the operation.
The artifacts, which are from the Hittite, Egypt, Mycenae, Phoenicia and Urartian cultures and the Hellenistic and Islamic periods, as well as silver, gold and bronze coins are now being kept in storage at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums for inspection.
Over 50,000 historical artifacts that have been seized over the last three years, have been kept in the sealed storages at the museum.
With the permission of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, the sealed doors of the storages have been opened for daily Hürriyet. The Istanbul Provincial Culture Director Coşkun Yılmaz and museum officials have provided information about the artifacts.
The historical artifacts that were seized during the police and gendarmerie operations have been taken to the Istanbul Archaeology Museums for a specialist report. There, a commission has first taken stock of the artifacts and then has divided them into four groups.
In accordance with the Code of the Protection of Cultural and Natural Properties, they have been kept in four different categories, which include forbidden artifacts to be bought and sold, forbidden artifacts to be bought and sold at home, new/out-of-scope artifacts and fake artifacts.
The new/out-of-scope artifacts are returned even before being registered by the museum. The others have been taken under protection in the museum storages until the court process ends.
Between 2015 and 2017, 52,482 objects were taken to the Istanbul Archaeology Museums via the police and gendarmerie. Based on their reports, the specialists have determined 928 objects had been out of scope. As a result, these objects have been returned to officials.
The museum has also taken 7,317 objects, which have been determined to be fake, under protection until the court decision.
According to law number 2863, 43,214 artifacts have been entrusted to the museum as they had been artifacts forbidden from being bought and sold.
“The Istanbul Police Headquarters should be congratulated as it carried out the world’s largest operation for historical artifacts. A total of 26,456 artifacts were seized. As required by the legislation, the artifacts have been delivered to the museum and they have been kept in the storages. Experts examine the artifacts to determine whether they are original or not. When the court process is over, they are registered in the museum inventory and taken under state protection,” said Istanbul Provincial Culture Director Coşkun Yılmaz, speaking about the process for smuggled artifacts.
“Our museums are actually like trustees. We have found smuggled artifacts from every period in history. We are pursuing our artifacts abroad. The Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has asked for a special pursuit of historical artifacts. Those who have historical artifacts should apply to the nearest museums. These artifacts are given a value by a commission. This process takes a short time, such as one month or a month and a half,” said Yılmaz.