‘Indiana Joneses of Anatolia’ of Culture Ministry find stolen artifacts
The anti-smuggling department of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, led by a young archaeologist, has been successful in bringing back some of important stolen artifacts to Turkey recently after meticulous researches conducted like a detective bureau, according to daily Hürriyet columnist Fatih Çekirge.
“I can say that the people in the department are ‘Indiana Joneses of Anatolia,’ and Zeynep Boz, the head of the department, is ‘Turkey’s Tomb Raider’,” wrote Çekirge, referring to two famous Hollywood movies.
Before listing the crew’s successes, Çekirge acknowledged the work profile of Boz.
“She has worked in the ministry for 14 years. She wrote a book about the illegal trafficking of historical works in 2018, a guide-book for the judiciary.”
According to the columnist, the department consists of two divisions. One looks into illegal trafficking across the country, the other abroad.
“Our treasure hunters pursue smuggling cases everywhere in the world,” wrote Çekirge, praising their work.
The success of Boz came after Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy granted her more authority.
Thanking Ersoy, Boz said, “The minister really marked a new epoch in this issue.”
When asked, “How many people work for you?” Boz jokingly said, “So crowded. The foreign, interior, justice and environment ministries… They all work hard. That is why the crew is so crowded.”
Lately, an 1,800-year-old Lydian era atonement inscription was returned early on Sept. 23 to Turkey.
“The department also brought a bull cart artifact dating back to 3000 B.C.,” wrote Çekirge, telling the story of the smuggling.
“The crew sees this bull cart in an international auction catalog. They prove that it is stolen from Anatolia. Auction organizers refuse to talk, so they contact the British police. The collector accepts to return.”
The columnist gave another example from Switzerland. Years ago, as part of an operation, Swiss police had raided a warehouse of two Lebanese brothers and found a sarcophagus of Hercules.
The anti-smuggling team in Ankara researched in archives and found out that the sarcophagus was taken out of the country from the ancient city of Perge from the southern province of Antalya.
Proving this to the Swiss authorities, the anti-smuggling team has achieved a worldwide success to bring it back to its homeland.
“We have a lot of work to do. There are thousands of files and hundreds of smuggled artifacts waiting for us,” said Boz, adding that “the team will not stop.”