Turkey to Use Human Rights Law to Try to Recover Ancient Artifacts

Posted on 19 January 2013

Turkey has a rich archaeological history, but many of its ancient artifacts are owned by museums in the West, but now Turkey is planning to try to recover many of these relics through using the human rights law. It is to file a lawsuit in the European Court of Human Rights to try to recover artifacts currently at the British Museum.

This isn’t the first time Turkey has tried to recover its ancient relics, as it is trying to put pressure on museums throughout the world to return artifacts that once belonged to ancient Turkey. Turkey is due to file the case at the end of January, although the British Museum hasn’t heard anything about the pending lawsuit at the moment.

The artifacts in question are ancient sculptures which were originally acquired in the 19th century during two separate expeditions, both of which had legal permits issued by the Ottoman authorities. These permits granted the excavation and removal of materials from the sites to the British Museum. In spite of this permission Turkey feels there is no valid documentation, and that Britain doesn’t really have permission to keep the subjects.

As well as using the human rights law, Turkey has already banned the export of artifacts in order to try to place pressure on famous museums throughout the world that have been displaying ancient Turkish relics for many years. In the past Western museums have criticized Turkey for undervaluing the importance of such artifacts, but this is unlikely to be the case nowadays. Turkey is well aware of their value, especially to its burgeoning tourism market.

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