Six Ancient Stolen Artifacts Smuggled into US Repatriated toTurkey

Six stolen artifacts from ancient Turkish cities that were smuggled into the US were recently repatriated and unveiled in a ceremony at the Antalya Museum Sunday, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The items were returned to the country last month after joint repatriation efforts from Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The government of Turkey had been tracing the artifacts for fifty years, according to comments from Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Turkey’s minister of culture and tourism, at the museum’s unveiling event on November 13.

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Jale Inan, Turkey’s first female archaeologist who died in 2001, was the first person to try to prove the provenance of these six artifacts. According to Ersoy, her work was internationally recognized but was not enough for repatriation efforts until it was combined with the research of journalist and writer Özgen Acar, and a more recent year-long investigation from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which has a dedicated Antiquities Trafficking Unit.

In the last decade or so,the Antiquities Trafficking Unit has carried out over 4,800 seizures of antiquities, totaling over $300 million in value. Their investigations have led to the conviction of 11 traffickers, and the indictment of six more. One of its most recent high-profile investigations was into Manhattan art dealer Subhash Kapoor who was sentenced to ten years in prison by an Indian court earlier this month.

The artifacts repatriated to Turkey on Thursday include a life-sized bronze statue of Roman Emperor Lucius Verus, estimated to be from the 1st or 2nd century AD; Attis and Apollo figurines from the early Roman and Hellenic periods; a Kusura-type idol from the early Bronze period; a duver terracotta slab from the Phrygian period; and a four-piece columnar tomb cut into several pieces. They are originally from the Turkish provinces of Balıkesir, Afyonkarahisar, and Burdur.

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