Antalya foundation kicks off campaign for return of smuggled artifacts


The Antalya Promotion Foundation (ATAV) has launched a campaign calling for the return of eight artifacts smuggled abroad out of Antalya. As part of the project, an exhibition featuring the photos of these artifacts will open at the Antalya Airport International Arrivals Terminal. A replica of the Nereid Monument will also be placed there. 

Each tourist that arrives in the airport will be given a questionnaire to fill and sign with the aim of gathering one million signatures, which are expected to be collected in exchange for the artifacts, and sent to the UNESCO. 

The artifacts the ATAV has demanded to be returned include the Nereid Monument, the Harpy Monument, the Tomb of Payava, the Xanthos F-G-H Monument, the Heroon of Trysa (stolen from the ancient city of Perge), the Sion Treasure, a child relief from the Myra rock tombs and the Tyke sculpture (stolen from the ancient city of Perge.) 

These archaeological artifacts smuggled out of Antalya were also used in calendars prepared by the ATAV, which is a non-governmental organization, this year. 

Speaking about the project, ATAV President Yeliz Gül Ege said collaboration with Antalya Airport had paved for way for the display of a replica of the Nereid Monument in Terminals One and Two at the beginning of the tourism season in April. 

In a corridor between the customs and the baggage claim, the photos of the smuggled artifacts will be on display, Ege said. 

After passing the corridor, each visitor will be given a questionnaire. “We will ask them if they think that ‘historical artifacts are beautiful in their homeland’ and there will be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. Those who say ‘yes’ will be gifted copper copies of the Elmalı coins, currently on display at the Antalya Museum, and considered the treasure of the century.” 

One million signatures at least 

Ege said the collected signatures would be sent to the UNESCO. “UNESCO has public services regarding this issue. The Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry is also seriously working on the smuggled artifacts and we want to contribute to these efforts. Can you imagine sending one to two million signatures to the UNESCO? Considering the tourist potential of Antalya, everyone will see the artifacts that have been stolen from us. And I believe that most of them will agree to sign the questionnaire. It would mean we could reach one million signatures at least.” 

Of the smuggled artifacts, the Pergamon Thyke sculpture is on display in Belgium, the Heroon of Trysa is on display at the Vienna Museum of Art History, the Nereid Monument of Xanthos, the Tomb of Payava and the Harpy Monument are on display at the British Museum in London, the Sion Treasure is on display at the Dumbarton Oaks Museum in the U.S. and the child relief is on display at the Museum of Athens.