Recently, the government of Turkey requested the return of dozens of allegedly looted antiquities from American museums. The items being sought currently reside in museums all over the country, including the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, Bowling Green State University, the Dumbarton Oaks Institute in Washington, D.C., and the Cleveland Museum of Art. You can view a complete list of the Cleveland objects and read more about the situation at Chasing Aphrodite.
The Republic of Turkey is the home of cultural resources of extraordinary historical breadth and significance. Catal Huyuk, Troy, Ephesus, Pergamum, Didyma, Halicarnassus, Priene, Sardis, Hattusas-Bogazkoy, Aphrodisias, Antioch, Beycesultan, the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and the underwater Uluburun shipwreck are only a handful of the significant sites in Turkey that hold singular importance to the cultures of the Neolithic, Anatolian Bronze Age, Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, Ionian Greeks and the Eastern Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Turkey contains more ancient Greek sites than Greece, more Roman sites than Italy and, most importantly, a vast number of undiscovered sites dating to its 10,000 years of history.
Because of a consistent demand for the types of antiquities that can be found among its stunning cultural wealth, Turkey is continuously victim to the looting and destruction of its archaeological and historic sites. In 2010 alone, some 68,000 stolen artifacts were seized from nearly 5000 people involved in smuggling rings. The number of objects that were not rescued and flowed into the illicit international antiquities market is unknown.
For more information on the protection of Turkey’s cultural heritage visit the SAFE resources section.
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