AN ANCIENT gold crown stolen from the burial chamber of Hecatomnus in Milas in 2008 and later smuggled to Scotland, has returned to Turkey, Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has said.
Yalçın Kurt, the head of the Culture and Tourism Ministry’s Cultural Heritage and Museums department, has personally brought the gold crown from Scotland, which will be exhibited at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, Kurtulmuş told daily Hürriyet.
“We pursue artifacts like detectives. We try to bring to the ones we find. It takes about six to seven years for an artifact to be brought to Turkey. The artifact that belongs to our country is first documented and then the scientific facts are put forward. But if that is not enough, then you will file a demand in line with the relevant country’s laws. Some 55 artifacts are [currently] waiting to be brought,” Kurtulmuş said.
“Let us give you the good news first. The gold crown, which we have spotted in Edinburgh, belongs to the Caria period. We have brought the artifact that has a history of 2,400 years to our country. An amazing struggle has been given in Scotland [to bring the artifact to Turkey]. After tracing the artifact, we have determined it was stolen from our country,” he said.
The tomb of Hecatomnus, the father of Mausolus, whose burial chamber (Mausoleum of Halicarnassus) in Bodrum is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was robbed in 2008. The stolen gold crown, which dates back to the fourth century B.C., was found two years later in Scotland.
It has been reported that Murat Aksakallı, 50, who manages a cafe in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, and his business partners Ali Sanal and Hakkı Özbey, have spoken with the officials of Sotheby’s and Bonhams auction houses in Edinburgh in order to find a buyer for the crown.
Scottish police contacted the three Turks in 2010, pretending to be a buyer and seized the crown.
When questioned, Aksakallı defended himself. “I have inherited it from my grandfather, Fazıl Aksakallı, who died in Çemişgezek [a district in the eastern Tunceli province]. I had kept it for years and then forgot it. But I had decided to sell it when my carrier companies had financial trouble,” he said.
The case later went to court. A Scotland court on Dec. 2, 2017 ordered the return of the crown to Turkey.
Apart from the gold crown, Kurtulmuş has also given information regarding a smuggled ancient Quran, believed to date back to the 16th century and calligraphed by Ahmed Şemseddin Karahisari during the reign of the Ottoman Empire.
Kurtulmuş said that when Turkish authorities found out the ancient Quran was going to be auctioned in a London hall, they “immediately” stopped the auction.
“Now, we are undertaking attempts for it to be brought to Turkey. Hopefully, we will also bring it here. We will not stop pursuing the artifacts that belong to our country,” he said.