Turkish security forces caught three suspects red-handed while they were trying to sell an estimated 1,400-year-old leather-covered book with religious illustrations and symbols in southeastern Turkey's Diyarbakır province Thursday.
Acting on a tip-off, the anti-smuggling branch of the provincial gendarmerie command launched an operation in the Bağcılar neighborhood of Bağlar district. Three suspects were detained on the spot, and another three suspects were later arrested in connection with the incident.
The 36-page ancient book was made up of papyrus papers bearing religious motifs.
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.