Gendarmerie forces in the western city of Kütahya seized 5,000 coins dating from the Roman and Byzantine eras in an anti-smuggling operation yesterday.
Acting on a tip-off, the anti-smuggling unit of the gendarmerie raided a gas station in the city's Geven neighborhood, catching two suspects red-handed while they were selling and buying the coins. Searching the suspects' cars, security forces found the trove of coins. Suspects are being detained while an investigation is underway on how they got hold of the coins.
It is unclear if the coins originated from Kütahya, which was ruled by the Roman and Byzantine Empires before the Seljuks seized it. Kütahya is also home to Aizanoi, an ancient Roman city which was the largest city in western Turkey in its era. In another operation last December in Kütahya, security forces confiscated around 10,000 historical Roman coins from smugglers.
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 visitors each year.