A 4,250-year-old gold ewer from the Hattian period was returned to Turkey and began being exhibited at a museum in the Turkish capital Thursday.
A ceremony marking its return was held at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, where it will be exhibited.
The Turkish General Directorate of Museums and Cultural Heritage’s department of anti-smuggling found that collector Arthur Gilbert, founder of the Gilbert Art Foundation, had purchased the piece in Los Angeles in 1989 to complete his collection of gold and silver artifacts and had loaned it to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
The directorate contacted the foundation for the return of the artifact, and after research was conducted, it was found to have been illegally removed from excavations and smuggled out of Anatolia.
- All artifacts should be where they belong
Speaking at the ceremony, Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said Turkey continues to work resolutely for the return of cultural properties which are illicitly removed from their homeland.
Noting that cultural properties in Turkey are entrusted from all civilizations that lived in these lands, Ersoy drew attention to the importance of all artifacts being special and valuable said they should be returned to the land they belong to.
“I believe that our people have made the greatest contribution to the protection of cultural assets. We should all protect these efforts from damage. It is important to retrieve our cultural assets that are abroad. However, the end of these incidents will only come with the protection of our cultural assets in the country. Let's not forget that this protection is also a service to our country, science and humanity," he said.
Nicholas Coleridge, chairman of the Gilbert Trust for the Arts, said after the death of Arthur Gilbert, an investigation into the history of the works in the collection was started.
Coleridge said it was figured out that the ewer was illegally removed from Turkey as a result of the investigation, stressing it was important for them to know where the artifacts in the collection came from.
He expressed his happiness to entrust the Hattian ewer to Turkey again, adding it has been returned to where it should have been.
*Writing by Seda Sevencan