Turkey launches new initiative to return stolen pieces of Zeugma mosaics from US university

Published 10.10.2017 00:00
Updated 10.10.2017 16:36
The remaning parts of the famous Gypsy Girl mosaic is being displayed at the Bowling Green University.
The remaning parts of the famous Gypsy Girl mosaic is being displayed at the Bowling Green University.

Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism launched a new initiative to return the stolen pieces of famous Zeugma mosaics from U.S. Bowling Green State University.

The 12 pieces on display at the Wolf Arts Center in Ohio were obtained illegally from Turkey by smugglers.

These pieces, extracted during illegal excavations at the ruins of the ancient city of Zeugma in southern Turkey, were purchased by the university for $35,000 from the art dealer Peter Marks in 1965.

The Turkish Consulate General of Chicago sent a letter to Bowling Green State requesting a meeting to discuss the return of the artifacts, the rightful property of Turkey, according to Anadolu Agency.

Turkey assured the university that, upon return of the artifacts, it will give public recognition to the university's actions and ensure that Turkish students know about the university.

The letter is a third attempt, after a proposal last month was rejected by the Bowling Green State.

Turkey made its first attempt to recover the mosaic pieces in February 2012, but Bowling Green State University demanded reimbursement for the purchasing price - $260,000 in 2012 prices - or for 20 Turkish students per year, totally 200, to be educated at their institution.

Ministry officials declined both proposals, stating ethical objections.

Various mosaics, including the iconic the Gypsy Girl, are on display at the 30,000 square meter Zeugma Mosaic Museum in Gaziantep, southern Turkey, which has attracted visitors from around the world since it opened in 2011. The Gypsy Girl's disheveled hair, prominent cheekbones and haunting eyes have become an icon of the ancient city.

Since 2003, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has obtained 4,311 artifacts illegally exported from Turkey, currently tracking down another 55 pieces in 17 countries.

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