Günay heralds return of ancient Troy artifacts

Günay heralds return of ancient Troy artifacts

ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
Günay heralds return of ancient Troy artifacts

Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay has announced the return of 24 Troy jewelries at the Anatolian Civilizations Museum. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

A collaboration between Turkey and the American University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has resulted in 24 pieces of gold jewelry, unearthed from the ancient city of Troy in the northwest province of Çanakkale, being returned to Turkey after 46 years, Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said Sept. 4.

“These artifacts are very important, too. They are originated from Troy, which we can call the ‘Istanbul of ancient ages’ in a sense. It was ruined and rebuilt nine times. These artifacts are said to belong to the second period of Troy. They were unearthed during excavations carried out by the German archaeologist Schliemann. Many artifacts had been looted during this period and were smuggled to different parts of the world. Some of these artifacts were in Germany, and then went to Russia at the time of the war. Some are currently on display at the Pushkin Museum. We’ve put forth a great effort to get them back,” Günay said at a press conference held yesterday at the Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara.

Among the returned artifacts are some very valuable pieces, Günay said.

The ministry has been successful in recent years in their efforts to have historic artifacts once smuggled from the country returned, Günay said. According to Günay 869 artworks were returned to Turkey between 1993 and 2003, 1,000 artworks were brought home between 2003 and 2007, and 3,336 artworks have returned to Turkey since September of 2007.

Artifacts and artworks returned to the country in the last five years came from the United States, Austria, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Croatia and Serbia. An agreement was recently struck with Bulgaria to return smuggled art, leading the ministry to estimate the number of returned items will reach 4,000.

Symposium in Gaziantep

UNESCO has been considering organizing a symposium on the returned artworks in the southeastern province of Gaziantep in November, Günay said. Turkey had been the deputy head of a UNESCO committee on this very issue since June.

Officials in Fighting Against Smuggling Department of the Cultural Beings General Directorate encountered the Troy artifacts in Penn Museum’s catalogue in 2009 and discovered that the museum had legally purchased them in 1966, Günay said.

As a result of negotiations Penn Museum, which Günay said attached great value to following archaeological ethics, agreed to return the artifacts without demanding compensation.

“At that time the Ottoman State filed a suit for the return of the smuggle artifacts. It first asked for the return of the Troy artifacts,” Günay said, “These are the first objects for which the Ottoman State filed a suit. There are other Troy artifacts still abroad.”

The artifacts were brought to Turkey rather symbolically on World Peace Day, Sept. 1. Günay thanked the collaboration of the foreign affairs, internal affairs and justice ministries. “Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan took an ancient sculpture and carried it on his plane. This collaboration makes the cultural development of the world easier,” Günay said. Projects facilitated by the Troy Museum have been completed, but the Troy jewelry will first be displayed at the Anatolian Civilizations Museum before being displayed at the Troy Museum.

Tourism Oscar goes to Hamamönü

Culture and Tourism Minister Günay attended a press conference Sept. 3 at Ankara’s Ulucanlar Prison Congress and Culture Center for the city’s Hamamönü district, which received the Golden Apple World Tourism Oscar. The award was given to the district by the World Federation of Tourism Journalists and Writers for restoration works there. He said that the Altındağ Municipality had breathed fresh life into all structures in the district through restoration works without pressing
the state. “a magic hand has touched the city’s venues. All officials of the Altındağ Municipality
deserve the greatest award,” Günay said.