ISTANBUL (AA) : Türkiye celebrates the return of over 40 historically significant Anatolian artifacts from the U.S., marking a triumph in cultural repatriation efforts in the centenary of the Turkish republic
At least 41 artifacts of Anatolian origin illegally taken out of Türkiye are being returned to the country from the United States.
“We are proud! The number of historical artifacts we have repatriated has reached 3,059 as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of our republic,” announced Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy.
According to the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry, new additions have been made to the cultural assets that have been returned to Türkiye since 2021, with the cooperation and joint efforts over the past five years between the ministry and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in the U.S.
Crucial artifacts of Roman era sculpting
Several ancient artifacts belong to the Boubon Ancient City located in the Ibecik Village of Gölhisar district in the Burdur province. Among the returned pieces are three bronze statue heads, one bronze bust of a woman and four body parts of bronze statues, all considered significant works of Roman Period sculpting in Anatolia.
These artifacts were part of the collection that was illegally excavated and taken abroad during unauthorized digs in the 1960s at the Boubon Ancient City. Notably, the heads of young Caracalla and mature Caracalla, the elder son of Emperor Septimius Severus, are of particular importance as they belong to statues of deified emperors that were erected in the sacred area (Sebasteion) of the ancient city.
Additionally, in 2022 and March 2023, two bronze statues, namely Lucius Verus and Septimius Severus, were also returned to Türkiye from the Sebasteion structure. Other artifacts returned from the U.S. include various significant pieces like a terracotta female head dating back to the sixth century B.C., a bronze weight shaped like Minerva from the Roman period, a marble head of Minerva, terracotta and silver Cybele figurines, a bronze Satyr figurine and a silver female figurine.
The returned artifacts also include two bronze helmets of the Frigian type. These helmets, based on the unique leather caps worn by Thracians and Phrygians, date back to the fourth century B.C. and are were worn by infantry soldiers.
Among the significant groups of returned artifacts are 22 Kilia-type idol heads. These idols, known as the Kilia (Gelibolu) type, are recognized to have been produced solely in the village of Kulaksızlar in the Manisa-Akhisar district. Kilia idols, typically found from Çanakkale to the southwestern corner of Western Anatolia down to Antalya, represent a distinctive idol type specific to Anatolia, dating back to the Late Chalcolithic Period (fifth millennium B.C.) to the Early Bronze Age (third millennium B.C.) settlements.
Furthermore, a terracotta vase made in the style of a wild goat, reflecting the ceramic production style dominant in Western Anatolia during the seventh and sixth centuries B.C., and one Olpe made using the black-figure technique stand out among the returned artifacts. The Olpe, used for serving drinks in ancient times, is one of the earliest examples of its form, featuring dancing satyrs on its surface.
Türkiye’s Culture and Tourism Deputy Minister Gökhan Yazgı and an accompanying delegation received the artifacts at the Turkish House (Türkevi) in New York.
At the handover ceremony, Yazgı said that a “hard-working and dedicated team” in the relevant institutions of the two countries has been in constant contact for five years to prevent the smuggling of cultural assets.
“This team both corrects the mistakes made in time by ensuring the return of artifacts that were smuggled out of the country illegally and contributes positively to the international image of the U.S. in this field,” he said.
Reyhan Özgur, the Turkish consul general in New York, also expressed his gratitude to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office: “The return of these smuggled historical artifacts symbolizes the importance of correcting the mistakes made in the past.”
The artifacts retrieved from the U.S. will arrive in Türkiye by the end of December.