Following the successes of Italy and Egypt in demanding the restitution of cultural artifacts from international museums, Turkey is now using similar tactics to demand the return of stolen objects. Germany reluctantly returned a Hittite statue after Turkey refused to renew licenses for archaeological digs. Ertugral Gunay, Tourism Minister, responded to the object’s return saying, “This is a revolution, this is a great development for the restitution of all our antique artifacts from abroad. We will fight in the same way for the restitution of the other artifacts.” Although the Germans made it clear that this restitution would be a one time agreement, it appears Turkish ministers have been encouraged by their success.
Gunay concluded his comments on Turkey’s new antiquities policy foreseeing a long struggle ahead but hopefully concluded, “in the end Europe will return all of the cultural treasures that it has collected from all over the world.” Is this really the best outcome however? Antiquities are powerful pawns in the turbulent struggles of nation states to establish sovereignty but will hording objects in their countries of origins help us better understand the past and humankind’s achievements?