Istanbul police have successfully saved a 2,200-year-old crown and other ancient gold artifacts in an anti-smuggling operation in Fatih district, which is home to some of the most popular historical sites in Turkey's largest city.
According to reports, anti-smuggling squads launched an operation after finding out about a group of smugglers who were planning to sell invaluable artifacts from the Hellenistic period.
Posing as a potential buyer, police offered to give $1 million for the artifacts, while the smugglers requested $1.5 million.
After intense bargaining, the smugglers agreed to sell the artifacts for $500,000, and told the "buyer" to come to a hotel to finish the deal, Ihlas News Agency reported.
Police then carried out an operation at the hotel where the smugglers were waiting to sell the historical artifacts, including a diadem-type golden crown, an onyx-ornamented ring and a silver urn, which was often used to hold the cremated ashes in the Roman Empire.
The suspects were detained and the artifacts were confiscated in the operation
The artifacts are thought to be unlawfully excavated from an ancient grave in Western Turkey's Thrace region and are believed to have belonged to a prominent military officer, king or a queen.
Turkey has been fighting for the return of stolen pieces at home and abroad.
Thousands of anti-smuggling operations are carried 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 foreigners each year.
In September, Turkey recovered the Roman sarcophagus of Hercules from Switzerland after it had been smuggled from the ancient city of Perge in the southern Antalya province half a century ago.