Police confiscated around 5,000 pieces of historical artifacts and detained three suspects in anti-smuggling operations in Istanbul, reports said Monday.
According to reports, police carried out simultaneous raids on three different addresses in Fatih and Sancaktepe districts and confiscated 4,567 bronze and silver coins from the Roman and Byzantium periods, 251 artifacts, including oil lamps, crosses and seals, six pieces of metal and bronze plates, and various portraits of kings.
The artifacts confiscated in the operation will be handed over to the Istanbul Archaeology Museum Directorate for analysis, reports said.
The ancient artifacts were reportedly obtained from illegal excavations carried out in Istanbul's Şile, Ağva and Silivri districts.
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.