Türkİye, Culture, Europe

1,800-year-old artifact delivered to Turkey from Italy

Ancient Lycian inscription smuggled from Turkey in 1990s to be displayed at Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara

Abidin Mutlu Bozdag  | 23.09.2020 - Update : 23.09.2020
1,800-year-old artifact delivered to Turkey from Italy


An 1,800-year-old Lydian era atonement inscription was returned early Wednesday to Turkey, where it was smuggled 23 years ago and later found in Italy. 

Turkey was reunited with the historical inscription stolen from the ancient city of Saitta in Manisa province in the 1990s due to the efforts of the Culture and Tourism Ministry.

Atonement inscriptions of Lydia period abducted from Turkey were received from Italy

ROME, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 22: A 1800 year old atonement inscriptions from the Lydian period which were abducted from Turkey, is seen in Rome, Italy on September 22, 2020. It is on the way to the land it belongs to after a long legal process following it was found during a police raid in Italy in 1997. A professional team meticulously packed it in protected form at Turkey's Embassy in Rome and prepared to the journey inscription, embassy officials have sealed and was taken to Rome Fiumicino Airport. The inscription was received from Italian authorities by Murat Salim Esenli, Rome Ambassador of Turkey, and he brought it to Rome to transfer it to Turkey. The Carabinieri of Florance, Protection of Cultural Heritage and Anti-Historical Artifact Smuggling Branch handed over the inscription to the ambassador. ( Barış Seçkin - Anadolu Agency )

After the inscription was handed over to ministry officials, it was loaded on a Turkish Airlines plane taking off from Rome and was brought to Istanbul Airport.

Preserved in a special box, the historical artifact was unloaded from the plane and was received by Rahmi Asal, head of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums Directorate.

Following its inspection, the inscription was placed in a freight vehicle under the supervision of the authorities.

The historical inscription will be sent to the capital Ankara as it is scheduled to be displayed at the Anatolian Civilizations Museum.

The artifact was seized in 1997 during a raid by an Italian anti-smuggling unit at an antiques merchant's workplace.

Italian authorities reported the situation to Turkey on suspicion that it might belong to the Lydians, an Anatolian civilization.

Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry confirmed the inscription was smuggled from the Apollon Aksyros Temple in the ancient city of Saitta in Manisa province.

The ministry launched a long legal battle for the return of the inscription in 1998 and presented evidence which showed it was smuggled from Turkey.

But an Italian court ruled against Turkey in 2012 and Ankara appealed. A decision was suspended in 2013.

The Florence Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 5, 2019 that it belongs to Turkey, setting off a return process to the country.

Turkey’s Ambassador to Rome Murat Saim Esenli and an accompanying delegation received the artifact from Claudio Mauti, an Italian officer in charge of the anti-smuggling department, in Florence, Italy on Sept. 19.

*Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev from Ankara

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