Turkey’s historical artifacts return to country
As a result of intensive efforts carried out by the Culture and Tourism Ministry, thousands of historical artifacts smuggled abroad by illegal means were returned to the country in the past 15 years.
Under the leadership of the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums, the artifacts have been returned to their original locations.
According to the ministry, 4,399 historical artifacts returned to Turkey between 2004 and 2019. This year, 68 pieces returned to the country. Among them, 63 historical artifacts from Bulgaria were brought back to the country with a tile panel from the United Kingdom, a statue of a woman’s head, a piece of two-glazed pottery and a human skull piece from historical periods.
It was reported that a big tile panel, which was stolen from Çarşamba Mehmet Ağa Mosque in Istanbul’s Fatih district in 2009, was taken to London. With the joint efforts of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, Turkey’s Embassy in London and the London Metropolitan Police, a British citizen, who had the artifacts, agreed to return the tile panel to Turkey.
The tile panel was brought to Istanbul on April 17, 2019 and taken under protection at the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum.
Also, a person in London got in touch with Turkey’s Embassy there to return a historical human skull.
The human skull fragment, which was found during archaeological excavations in Istanbul’s Saraçhane district, was brought to Turkey on Oct. 2, 2019. The artifact is now being kept in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and is set to be delivered to the Istanbul Archaeology Museums.
Sixty-three artifacts from Bulgaria
The Sofia Culture and Tourism Counselor decided to return some artifacts at the Sophia Museum to Turkey, and works have been initiated for the return of 63 artifacts.
With the participation of Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism Özgül Özkan Yavuz, 63 silver, bronze and gold artifacts belonging to different periods were delivered at a ceremony held on June 13, 2019.
Preserved in the Ankara Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, the artifacts include gold, silver and bronze antique coins and drachmas of different periods, six bronze antique appliques and one bronze antique fibula.
The first artifacts that were returned to Turkey as a result of works carried out since 2004 were the ones seized in Zurich, Switzerland. In the same year 396 works were returned to Turkey.
Smuggled from Turkey and detected in France, 18 pieces of artifacts belonging to the Sultan Abdulhamid II were returned in 2005. Another artifact - the Aphrodisias Frisian Bloc in England - was also returned in 2006.
In 2007, 349 artifacts were returned to Turkey from Austria, England, Germany, United Arab Emirates and Switzerland. Among them were the head of the armored emperor statue, stele fragments, the bronze hand of the ancient city of Laodicea and a Roman ring and coins.
From countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Bulgaria, the United States, Australia and England; 86 artifacts were returned to Turkey in 2012, 30 artifacts in 2013, 86 artifacts in 2014 and 39 artifacts in 2015.
The historical Yortan Container, a manuscript of the Yusuf Ağa Manuscript Library and the historical İznik tile were also brought back to the country at the end of 2017.
Works for the extradition of cultural assets that have been smuggled abroad have been continuing in various countries such as Germany, the United States, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, the U.K. and Italy.