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Turkey wants its sphinx back, minister says

The Local · 24 Feb 2011, 11:10

Published: 24 Feb 2011 11:10 GMT+01:00

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If the museum fails to return the Sphinx of Hattusa by July, the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) will be restricted from research at the ancient Hittite empire capital, Ertugrul Günay told daily Der Tagesspiegel.

“If there is no commitment by the beginning of the digging season then I am determined to annul the dig licence for Hattusa,” he said.

The request is the latest escalation in ongoing negotiations over the sphinx, which was found at the site near the modern city of Boğazkale in central Anatolia.

The DAI has been digging at the Bronze Age city since 1906, and research at the UNESCO World Heritage site is considered to be among the country’s most important archaeological work worldwide.

German researchers brought the sphinx back to their country in 1915 for restoration, but it was never returned to Turkey, the paper said.

German authorities have flatly rejected calls by Turkey to return the stone figure, but Günay told the paper he was not making empty threats.

His ministry recently stripped German archaeologists of the right to dig at another western Anatolian site where they have been since 1926 for not doing enough work there, he said. The dig has been given to a Turkish university instead.

Meanwhile Turkish authorities are also unhappy with Germany’s efforts at Hattusa, Günay said, explaining that very little restoration work has been conducted in recent years.

Story continues below…

German archaeologists currently work at about a dozen Turkish sites, but both sides must profit from the work, Günay told the paper.

“Turkey has new universities, new archaeological institutes, not to mention engaged and successful archaeologists,” he said. “When we don’t see the cooperation we hope for in this area, then we won’t hesitate to transfer the digs to our own universities.”

The Local/ka

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:25 February 24, 2011 by wenddiver
OMG, It looks like a Teletubby.
14:31 February 24, 2011 by moistvelvet
Pre world war German archaeologists searching for artifacts and taking them back to Germany... HANG ON a minute, we all know that really this "artifact" in question is in fact secured in a crate in a very large wharehouse somewhere in the US :-o
19:12 February 24, 2011 by lordkorner
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
20:16 February 24, 2011 by Ribbentrop
What is to do with Turkey to lay claim on this artefact? Turks brought to Anatolia from Central Asia around 12th century CE by Abbasid Caliphs. These artefacts are Indo-European work of arts and neither are to do with Turkey nor Turks.
21:52 February 24, 2011 by marimay
What a poor argument.
11:45 February 25, 2011 by alpik79
Many of those artefacts indeed were taken by the Sultan's approval at the time when Germany and Ottomans had an strategic partnership -before during WW1-.

Turkey has quite a mixed genetical code that can be traced back to civilization before Turkic arrival in the 11th century which is a strength of a nation. Even many people in Turkey woudl liek to associate themselves with central asia.

So Turkey has every right to take back its own history.
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