Police seized a large haul of artifacts, from Persian jewelry to ancient Qurans, in an anti-smuggling operation in Istanbul last week, authorities announced yesterday. Eleven suspects were detained in operations across three districts of Istanbul.
Among the 714 artifacts the suspects planned to smuggle abroad were two handwritten Qurans dating back to the 15th century, a 2,500-year-old set of gold jewelry belonging to a Persian king, ancient Greek coins with figures of the goddess Athena and ancient coins bearing the figures of Sassanid kings.
Thousands of anti-smuggling operations are carried out across Turkey every year to halt the illegal sale of historical objects and protect the country's rich cultural heritage.
The issue is crucial to a country that is home to about 3,000 ancient cities from 42 civilizations, and whose tourism industry relies on its rich historical heritage to attract millions of foreign tourists each year.