Officials confirm Heracles smuggled from Antalya’s Perge

Officials confirm Heracles smuggled from Antalya’s Perge

Officials confirm Heracles smuggled from Antalya’s Perge

The smuggled sarcophagus features figurines of the ancient Greek hero Heracles on its surface.

A 20-ton sarcophagus, which was seized at the Swiss Customs in 2012, was smuggled from the ancient city of Perge in the southern province of Antalya, according to Turkish officials, who have closely pursued and examined the artifact. It was reported that a similar sarcophagus was at the Antalya Museum.

Officials confirmed that the smuggled sarcophagus, which features figurines of the ancient Greek hero Heracles on its surface, had been made by the same artist.

The sarcophagus belonged to the Phoenix Ancient Art Gallery in Geneva, against which Turkish officials had opened a case. Aware of the artifact’s location, Swiss officials assigned a prosecutor to the case alongside a Turkish lawyer who was also appointed for the same purpose by Turkish officials.

Following talks with the Culture and Tourism Ministry Cultural Artifacts and Museums General Directorate, the Swiss prosecutor and Turkish lawyer met in Antalya last month and examined the place from which the sarcophagus was removed. 


Professor İnci Deleman and Professor Haluk Abbasoğlu, who are conducting excavations in Perge, also gave statements concerning the matter, with Antalya Public Prosecutor Osman Şanal present during the examination.

After the examination in Perge, the Swiss prosecutor met an individual only identified as A.Ç., who is imprisoned in Elmalı Prison on a separate smuggling charge and is suspected of smuggling the artifact out of Perge. In discussions with the Swiss prosecutor, A.Ç. allegedly confirmed the artifact had been smuggled.

International legal proceedings then began with the aim of repatriating the sarcophagus to Antalya. The case was being closely followed by the Antalya Public Prosecution Office, as well as the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry and Foreign Ministry.

The ancient city where the sarcophagus is thought to have been smuggled from, Perge, or modern-day Antalya’s Aksu district, was one of the most important cities in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Images forming part of the details on the sarcophagus include the depiction of the 12 tasks or labors the ancient Greek hero Heracles had to endure to become an immortal.