Monday, November 11, 2013

From Geneva to Antalya: Roman sarcophagus

The Turkish press is reporting that a Roman marble sarcophagus decorated with scenes showing Hercules is likely to be returned to Turkey ("Stolen sarcophagus might return to Turkey", Hurriyet November 9, 2013). It appears that it was found at Perge. The sarcophagus had then passed into the hands of Phoenix Ancient Art in Geneva.
After the examination in Perge, the Swiss prosecutor met with A.Ç., who is imprisoned in Elmalı prison on a separate smuggling charge and is suspected of smuggling the artifact out of Perge. In discussions with the Swiss prosecutor, A.Ç allegedly confirmed that the artifact had been smuggled. 
International legal proceedings began with the aim of repatriating the sarcophagus to Antalya. The case is being closely followed by the Antalya Public Prosecution Office as well as the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry and Foreign Ministry. 
According to Turkish officials, legal action against the Phoenix Ancient Art Gallery will be completed by the end of the year, facilitating the return of the sarcophagus to Antalya.
I presume that this is the same sarcophagus noted here in March 2012.

If the sarcophagus is returned to Turkey it will increase the pressure on the Cleveland Museum of Art and the St Louis Art Museum to clarify the collecting histories for the Leutwitz Apollo (CMA) and the Egyptian mummy mask (SLAM).

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