Turkey Demands Return of Antiquities

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/26/world/europe/26iht-M26C-TURKEY-RETURN.html?_r=2

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?

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About projectpatrimonio

Helena Boyden Lamb, born 1985 in New York, has studied and worked in Politics, Heritage Ethics and Politics, and Opera Singing. Most recently, she is working in Brussels where she started in a European Think Tank and is now the Executive Office of a NGO which facilitates Youth Politics across the EU. She has a Bachelor with Honors from Stanford University, California in Classics: Politics and Heritage and a Masters with Honors from the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK in European Identity. She has conducted academic or independent grant-funded research in the UK, France, Italy, Greece, Russia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, and Albania. She was, previously, an archaeologist and an opera singer. Cynthia Querio is a Museum Educator currently living and working in Los Angeles. She is interested in heritage and identity politics and the role of museum education departments in the trajectory of this debate. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue a 9 month graduate internship at the Getty Villa's education department and has continued to work in many museums in Los Angeles including LACMA and the Autry National Center. Her academic background is in the Classics, which was her major at Stanford University and which she continued to pursue with a Masters in the History of Classical Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art.
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