Türkiye stepped in for the return of Anatolian artifacts in British museums

Türkiye stepped in for the return of Anatolian artifacts in British museums
Date: 7.9.2023 16:00

British Museum came to the fore on 16 August with the news that many artifacts kept in warehouses were stolen, lost and damaged. While the names of those responsible and the number of lost works were not specified in this period, the number of lost, stolen and damaged works was approximately 2 thousand turned out to be.

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It was determined that the curator Peter Higgs, who has been working at the museum for 30 years in the field of Mediterranean cultures, Hellenistic sculptures and artifacts, was dismissed as responsible for the incident in July, and that some thefts have existed for years. 
At this point, foreign experts who claimed to have informed the museum that the works that have been in the inventory for years were sold over the internet also stepped in. As proof of this, some works that have been waiting to be sold on the eBay website for years have been shown.
The fact that the eBay seller’s username was “Sultan1966”, which was presented as evidence, deepened the suspicions on Higgs, whose username in X was “Sultan1966”. 
Foreign experts speaking to the British media stated that the museum was not interested in this issue because it was a “shameful situation”, while the Museum Director Hartwig Fischer resigned on the 9th day of the incident. Fischer admitted that the allegations came before them in 2021, but they did not take the issue seriously at that time.
Following the stolen news, Zeynep Boz, Head of the Anti-Smuggling Department of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, sent a letter to the museum through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the letter, information was requested about the status of Anatolian artifacts in the museum following the stolen news. refund requested.
Except Türkiye, China also demanded about 23,000 artifacts from the dynasties such as Shang, Zhou, Wei and Jin in the British Museum in an official letter. 
“About 8 million artifacts in the British Museum’s collection come from outside the UK, and the vast majority have been obtained improperly, even through immoral means,” China’s letter of request said. statements were included. 
Except for China, which accuses Britain of not fulfilling its international responsibilities by not returning historical artifacts. Ghana, India And Ethiopia He also wants the return of the artifacts in the museum.
While Ghana and India state that the artifacts have holiness besides their historical value, Greece has been demanding the Parthenon marbles, known for the name of the Lord of Elgin, who brought their historical artifacts to England for years.
Today, one of the statues that served as a pillar in the Parthenon is still on display in the British Museum.
England, on the other hand, refuses requests, claiming that the works are better protected in London, that they are brought on time with official permissions, and that they contribute to the promotion of the countries in question.
British Museum Today, it is known as the most important archeology, culture and art museum in both England and the world. The majority of the works in the museum, which welcomes an average of 6 million visitors annually, are important historical artifacts brought from different parts of the world. 
Among the historical artifacts that British archaeologists, diplomats and researchers have obtained through archaeological excavations, collections or smuggling for years, items such as mummies of the Egyptian pharaohs, treasures, statues of ancient Roman and Greek civilizations, weapons and jewelry belonging to Native Americans are in the halls reserved for every continent and civilization. is on display.
The most striking part of the museum is the galleries between halls 15 and 23, where artifacts brought from Turkey’s ancient cities are exhibited. While there are mostly artifacts brought from Muğla in these halls, artifacts from different cities of Greece and Turkey can also be seen.
Among these galleries, there are two halls made entirely of historical artifacts brought from Muğla. Considered one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world “Mausoleum of Halicarnassus” Its remains are exhibited in Hall 21, where it was named. 
Here, the statues of King Mausolos, his wife Artemisia, and giant horses and lions, as well as reliefs and busts of war scenes can be visited. Some of the reliefs engraved on marble have been temporarily sent to museums in the USA.
Halicarnassus Mausoleum, with a corridora “Nereid Monument” connects to gallery. In the gallery, where parts of the monument were almost completely reconstructed, other artifacts brought from the ancient city of Xanthos in Muğla are also exhibited.
Two lion statues greet the visitors of the British Museum just inside the main entrance. Passing the two lions excavated from the Halicarnassus Mausoleum, and reaching the Elizabeth II Great Hall in the center of the museum, visitors can see the Lion of Knidos, measuring approximately 2 meters by 3 meters. Another statue brought to England by being smuggled from Knidos in the Datça district of Muğla today is the statue of Demeter, the farmers’ god of fertility.


In the Islamic works section of the British Museum, there are artifacts brought from all over the Islamic world. While there is no information about how the works donated by the high-ranking figures of the past came into the hands of those people, there is also the sword of Sultan Selim III among the works sold to the museum by the “donator” named Edward Beghian.
Artifacts related to Ottoman art and culture are exhibited. “World of Islam” In the hall, there are the tiles of the Çinili Hamam, a work of Mimar Sinan, in Istanbul, the tiles donated by the collector John Henderson after his death, and the works donated or purchased by Augustus Wollaston Franks, one of the first directors of the museum. 
The British Museum also has the head of the bronze statue of Aphrodite in Gümüşhane, the statue of King İdrimi in Hatay, whose existence was not known until then, and many large and small historical artifacts found in Turkey.
in London Victoria and Albert Museumi (VA), on the other hand, draws attention as a museum that hosts works of art brought from all over the world. The inventory of the museum, which preserves a period of 5 thousand years in its collection, consists of donations, as in the British Museum, or works created by purchasing from collectors and smugglers all over the world. Among the remarkable Turkish works in VA are tiles and portraits of the sultan. In the museum where Fatih Sultan Mehmet’s portrait commissioned by Italian Gentile Bellini is also exhibited, drawings of many Ottoman sultans can be seen.
In the museum, where there are carpet and textile sections of Turkish art, tiles are also exhibited. Among the tiles exhibited in the museum, besides the pieces consisting of a single tile, there are also all tile panels. The full tile panels on display at the museum include panels from Eyüp Sultan Tomb, Edirne Palace, and Piyale Pasha Mosque.
Another remarkable work is the tile fireplace, which was brought from the Fuat Pasa Mansion in Istanbul in its entirety. The 350-year-old Ashmoleon Museum of Oxford University stands out in terms of having tiles, drawings, paintings and archaeological artifacts from Turkey in its inventory. It is stated that about 1700 of the approximately 120 thousand works in the museum were taken from Turkey or are related to Turkey.


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