Winged Seahorse Returns to Turkey

From Today’s Zaman:

A winged seahorse brooch, one of the most precious pieces in the Croesus Treasure, which was stolen from a museum in Turkey in 2005 and recently found in Germany, was returned to Turkey on Wednesday.

In November of last year, then-Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay announced that the famed brooch had been located in Germany and would be returned to Turkey soon. No information was revealed as to how it was found.

The brooch, which is worth millions of Turkish lira, was found to have been stolen from the Uşak Archaeology Museum, where it had been on display, and switched with a fake sometime between March and August of 2005, and it remained missing until being located in Germany.

The Croesus Treasure, a collection of artifacts from the time of King Croesus’s rule of the Lydian Kingdom between 560 and 547 B.C., is on display in the Uşak Archeology Museum. The treasure contains 363 valuable Lydian artifacts originating from Uşak province in western Turkey, which were the subject of a legal battle between Turkey and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from 1987-1993. The artifacts were returned to Turkey in 1993 after the museum admitted it had known the objects were stolen when they had purchased them.

In case you missed it a few years ago, the Croesus Theft was an Inside Job…

Orpheus Mosaic Heading Back to Turkey

Wow … no sooner does Hurriyet mention it and the Dallas MoFA returns it … from the Star-Telegram:

The Dallas Museum of Art has returned an ancient mosaic to Turkish officials after discovering it was stolen.

The mosaic was returned to Turkish officials at a ceremony Monday in Dallas. Museum officials also launched an international cultural exchange that will include loaning works of art and sharing expertise. The first initiative will be with Turkey.

The museum bought the roughly 5-foot-by-5-foot Orpheus Mosaic at a public auction in 1999. It originally decorated the floor of a Roman building. But the museum discovered evidence earlier this year that it was possibly stolen from an archaeological site. Museum officials then consulted Turkish officials, who provided photographic evidence documenting the looting.

For more detailed reports, see also:

Hellenistic Walls of Kerkenez Revealed

One that was languishing in my email box … from Today’s Zaman:

The excavation of the Kerkenez ruins in the Central Anatolian province of Yozgat have revealed the original city walls dating back to the fourth century B.C.

The excavation was carried out due to support from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Yozgat Museum Office. The excavation, which has been ongoing for 19 years, is being conducted by a team headed by Assistant Professor Abdülkadir Baran this year. Archaeologist Nil Dirlik stated that the Kerkenez ruins, located five kilometers away from the village of Şahmuratlı in the district of Sorgun, are among the most prominent ancient centers in Turkey.

She further stated that the excavation work will continue in the future, and next year they will host tourist groups, a move that is expected to make a big contribution to the economy of Yozgat as well as that of Turkey.

Residents of the village say they have a good relationship with the excavation team, which provides them with jobs and informs them about the importance of the excavation.

Phrygian and Lydian Inscriptions from Northwest Turkey

Tip o’ the pileus to A.K. Eyma for passing along this item from Leiden University:

Linguists Alwin Kloekhorst and Alexander Lubotsky from Leiden University made a great discovery this summer. They deciphered a few dozen inscriptions on pot shards found in Daskyleion (North-West Turkey) as Phrygian and Lydian, and thus proved the presence of the Phrygians and Lydians in that area.

Sensational

Kloekhorst and Lubotsky’s find can be termed sensational. Previous excavations had already led to the supposition that Greeks and Phrygians lived in and around Daskyleion between the 6th and 3rd century BC, but now there is also proof of the presence of the Lydians. The kingdom of the Phrygians in the mid-west of the Anatolian Plateau had a rich mythology in which kings such as Gordias (of the Gordian Knot) figured. The Lydians are known as a rich people that in all probability invented coins. This means it has been proven for the first time that Daskyleion was a multi-ethnic town in that period. This is important, because we do not yet know for sure which languages were spoken in North-West Turkey before the Greeks began to settle there in about 800 BC.

Grin and bear it

When the Turkish archaeologists Kaan Iren (Mugla University) and Handan Yildizhan (Nevsehir University) found pot shards with inscriptions that they could not decipher their search soon led them to Leiden. Kloekhorst, who received a VENI grant in 2008 for his research into Hittite (a language related to Lydian), is known to be expert in the field of Anatolian languages (a sub-group of the Indo-European language family). For his part, Lubotsky is an authority in the field of the Phrygian language. At the request of the Turkish archaeologists they spent a week in Daskyleion in July deciphering the inscriptions. Kloekhorst says, ‘It was 35 degrees and there was no air-conditioning. It was certainly a case of grin and bear it.’

To Zeus

The best discovery, says Kloekhorst, is a small shard with ‘To Zeus’ scraped on it. ‘Most of the shards are very small,’ he explains. ‘The words are often broken into pieces, and you do find a whole word it is usually a name. The advantage is that Phrygian and Lydian each had their own alphabets. That is often our only guide: it’s how we know that it can’t be a Greek text.’ The discovery amounts to some thirty inscriptions. That may not seem much but for two extinct languages it is huge. Kloekhorst says, ‘In total we only have 150 Lydian fragments. That means that any new piece of text is welcome. They are the small pieces of evidence that we work with.’

New shards
The excavation house in the village of Ergili, where Alwin Kloekhorst and Alexander Lubotsky stayed and worked for a week.

The excavation house in the village of Ergili, where Alwin Kloekhorst and Alexander Lubotsky stayed and worked for a week.

At the request of the Turkish archaeologists Kloekhorst and Lubotsky are producing a book on the joint discoveries. An article will also be published in which they will reveal the discoveries. But it probably does not end there. ‘Whilst we were in Turkey,’ says Kloekhorst, ‘every now and then a new shard with an inscription would be found. I can easily see us having to return next year.’

The original article includes photos of some of the inscriptions and relevant links to the people involved.

Stolen Sarcophagus Recovered

This one’s interesting, given that we were pondering the origins of that sarcophagus in the sea near Antalya t’other day … from the Local:

A Roman sarcophagus, believed to have been excavated illegally from an archaeological site close to Turkey’s Antalya, has been seized by authorities from a Swiss warehouse, a customs official said on Monday.

The marble tomb, bearing carvings depicting the 12 labours of Hercules, dates to 2 AD.

It was found by customs officials who were carrying out inventory checks at Geneva’s tax-free warehouses, said Jean-Marc Renaud, who heads Switzerland’s central customs services, confirming a Swiss television report.

According to Swiss television, Ankara is seeking restitution of the sarcophagus believed to have originated from the Greek-Roman archaeological site of Perge, about 22 kilometres from Antalya.

Swiss customs are currently holding the object, and have brought the case to Geneva prosecutors which opened a probe last year.

Hekatomnus’ Tomb Found(?)

I’ve already griped about how my low-bandwidth situation while visiting my mother was incredibly annoying when there was big archaeological news, so by way of praeteritio, I won’t mention it again. Even so, another example of which were reports of a tomb find in Milas, Turkey. The initial English report brought back by my spiders  suggested the tomb of “Hekataios” had been found, and I expressed hesitations about that in the issue of Explorator that went out at the time. That, however, was followed by our friend Dorothy King’s excitement on Twitter about the discovery of the tomb of Hecatomnus, the founder of the Hecatomnid dynasty in Caria. It turned out I was getting a number of news reports on this, but didn’t make the connection as most of them had headlines concentrating on a ‘looted tomb’ being found. Eventually, however, we did manage to see what Dr King was excited about … AP seems to have taken the lead in picking up the story, so here’s the version from The Age:

Turkish police have raided a house used by people suspected of digging illegally for antiquities and discovered two tunnels leading to an underground tomb that housed an ancient marble coffin and frescoes, officials say.

Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay on Friday described the discovery near the town of Milas, in western Turkey, as an “important archaeological find” and ordered digs in surrounding areas, Haber Turk newspaper reported.

Looting of ancient artifacts is common in Turkey, and the country has imposed heavy penalties to deter illegal digs. But the Milas discovery is the first time in years that authorities have found what could be an important archeological site while chasing looters.

The 2800-year-old carved coffin, decorated with reliefs of a bearded reclining man, probably belonged to Hecatomnus, who ruled over Milas, according to Turkey’s Culture Ministry.

Several treasures that would have been placed in the underground tomb were most likely looted by the treasure hunters and sold in the illegal antiquities trade, the ministry said.

A court has arrested and charged five of 10 people detained in the raid, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

Anatolia, which was allowed to enter the tomb, said the suspects had dug two tunnels – six and eight meters long, from the house and an adjacent barn, leading to the tomb that is buried about 10 meters deep.

They used sophisticated equipment to drill through the thick marble walls of the tomb and were working to remove the coffin from the underground chamber when they were detained, according to the Culture Ministry.

“I would have wished that this (archeological find) had been discovered through our digs and not through digs conducted by a band of treasure hunters,” Anatolia quoted Gunay as saying.

“This is not an ordinary treasure hunt. It is very organised and it is obvious that they received economic and scientific help,” Gunay said. Turkey also would investigate the suspects possible overseas links, he said.

The story has been more widely reported (for obvious reasons) in the Turkish Press and Dorothy King’s own series of blogposts are definitely worth reading:

In addition to the foregoing, folks will probably like the photos from Radikal’s slideshow:

… and perhaps more interesting is a 15 minute video from Haberler(with commentary in Turkish, of course, but there really isn’t much of it … definitely read DK’s posts before watching this; be patient … it took forever to load for me); keep your eye open for the segment showing how the looters accessed the tomb … they had some heavy-duty equipment:

In regards to the foregoing, I tried to do a Google translate on the text and I *think* the identification as Hekatomnus is based on inscriptions/graffiti on the walls left by workers? I’m not at all positive about that but it’s a major question which isn’t dealt with in the English coverage.

More coverage:

Nysa Dig Resumes

From Hurriyet:

Archaeologists have begun excavations at the ancient Greek city of Nysa, in western Turkey, where they hope to find new artifacts around the theater, agora and gymnasium.

Professor Vedat İdil, head of the excavation team from Ankara University, said the team, comprised of Turkish, Canadian and American architects, archaeologists and historians, plans to work until October this year.

Nysa is located in the Sultanhisar district of Aydın province, 50 kilometers east of the Ionian city of Ephesus. There are important ruins on the site from the Hellenistic period, the Roman period and the Byzantine era. Much of the open-air Greek theater and its walled entrances are still intact. The library currently has three walls.

There are remnants of a gymnasium, a Roman bath and a bouleuterion. The 100-meter Nysa Bridge, a tunnel-like substructure, was the second largest of its kind in antiquity.

via: Excavations begin in Nysa in western Turkey | Hurriyet

n.b. … in case you were wondering,  this Nysa (in Caria) is not to be confused with Nysa-Scythopolis (in Israel)

Statue of Liberty … from Perge?

One of the reasons for the paucity of posts over the past while was that I was in a very low/expensive bandwidth situation which didn’t give me the luxury of checking stories which landed in my mailbox. This excerpt from some sort of travel site is a prime example:

This in itself would be reason enough to visit Perge, and the many other ancient discoveries in Turkey but the added intrigue of Perge’s “Statue of Liberty” makes a trip there irresistible. Carved into a tall column, the three-dimensional figure bears an uncanny resemblance to New York’s own, including a crown and a torch held high and, as same as the American “lady,” a sword instead of a tablet of law. And, the similarities make sense because it turns out that Frederic Bartholdi’s inspiration for American Statue of Liberty was none other than the Roman deity, Libertas, the goddess of freedom. Could it be that Perge’s figure, with her distinctive pose and characteristics, became the model all the “Lady Liberties” down through the ages?

via: Are The Origins Of America’s Statue Of Liberty To Be Found In Turkey? Recent Discovery of Figure on Ancient Column in Perge Leads to Speculation

The vagueness of the date of the ‘discovery’ is what I wanted to check and I really can’t go much better than “recent”. The ‘official’ Turkish tourism site includes similarly undated info:

The roots of the famous ‘Statue of Liberty’ emerged from the ancient site Perge in Antalya. A statue that was realised on one of the columns turned out to be very similar to the ‘Statue of Liberty’.The roots of the ‘Statue of Liberty’ go back to an ancient statue that was excavated in the ancient site Perge. It was found out that a statue on one of the columns decorating the ancient site is very similar to the ‘Statue of Liberty’. This column which was discovered after the excavations have started, has gained a lot of interest.The statue holding a torch in his hand and with its nine bars resemble the ‘Statue of Liberty’ incredibly. During a visit to Perge by the Minister of Culture and Tourism Ertuğrul Günay, got a promise for lifting the columns. When the columns have been lifted, the figure of the ‘Statue of Liberty’ came out clearly.

… and a photo:

Judging from other finds mentioned on the page, the find was made in the past year, so it seems unlikely that the Perge depiction of Libertas was the direct influence for the thing in New York’s harbour. Other than that, the Wikipedia article on the various influences that came together in the modern sculpture are interesting (especially the detail that it was originally designed to be sporting a pileus, which was shot down as ‘abolitionist’).

Manicure Set from Myra-Andriake (Turkey)

The only version in English that I can find of this (in multiple newspapers) has the story tied to that Swedish phallic thing that was in the news for most folks last week. Here’s what’s important for us:

Archaeologists have uncovered an ancient Roman personal care set at Myra-Andriake in Antalya’s district of Demre, Turkey.

Professor Nevzat Cevi, an academic from Akdeniz University’s Archeology Department and colleagues excavated an 1800-year-old pair of bronze tweezers and a manicure rasp at Andriake Port.

“Now, we are aware that the Lycian women of the Roman period 1,800 years ago were living well-groomed by using a pair of tweezers, rasp and mirror,” The Hurriyet Daily News quoted Cevi as saying. [...]

This appears to be the original article; no photo, alas (manicure set or medical kit?) … not sure what was left out of the above: