Turkey Makes a Grab for Extant Antiquities

Posted on October 4, 2012

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Turkey has recently launched a somewhat successful albeit aggressive campaign to reclaim allegedly looted cultural property. Among the items returned to Turkish officials in the past few months are an ancient sphinx and other golden treasures. As the New York Times Reports, however, some of the world’s largest museums are not happy with Turkey’s recent efforts, and have labeled them as cultural blackmail.

Turkey has recently targeted 18 objects currently housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (“Met”) as part of the Norbert Schimmel collection. In an effort to reclaim the objects, Turkish officials have declared that the Met must prove the provenance of the 18 items in the collection. If the Met fails to do so, Turkey will no longer lend it antiquities. According to Turkey’s director-general of cultural heritage, “We know 100 percent that these objects at the Met are from Anatolia,” “We only want back what is rightfully ours.”

Museums worldwide are not pleased with Turkey’s tactics. Institutions such as the Met, the Getty, The Louvre, and the Pergamon have all stated that Turkey’s new tactics threaten their goal of displaying global treasures. President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation Hermann Parzinger believes that “The Turks are engaging in polemics and nasty politics,” Parzinger also noted that “They [the Turkish] should be careful about making moral claims when their museums are full of looted treasures.”

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