Along with coins and other artifacts, police seized $70,000 (TL 516,341) and 11,000 euros ($12,988) from suspects who had criminal records for artifact smuggling. Police believe it was revenue from smuggling.
Initial analysis of seized artifacts shows some were electrum, coins made of an alloy of silver and gold and commonly used by Lydians centuries ago. Artifacts were found buried in the courtyard of houses and in secret caches in the suspects’ residences. Six electrums were of a “high value,” according to investigators.
Among other items found in suspects’ possession was a clay vase dating back 11,000 years, bronze, silver and gold coins from Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine period, golden earrings, a large number of small statues, rings, bracelets, seals and medical equipment. All were authentic.
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.
Turkey also works to repatriate smuggled artifacts from abroad. According to data by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 4,310 historical artifacts were returned to Turkey between 2004 and 2018.
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