Turkey attempts to retrieve Roman mosaics from US


Turkey has launched a new initiative to retrieve a series of 2nd century mosaics held by a U.S. university for more than 50 years.

The 12 Roman-era mosaics, which depict birds and mythological characters, are currently held by Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Last month, Turkey's Culture Ministry attempted to retrieve the artifacts, a ministry official said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.

The mosaics were discovered in the early 1960s during excavations in the Roman town of Zeugma in Turkey's southeastern Gaziantep province.

The university paid $35,000 in 1965 to buy them and 47 years later Turkey first tried to retrieve the Zeugma mosaics but the university demanded $260,000 for their return.

The Foreign Ministry rejected the offer as unethical but last month the Turkish consulate general in Chicago approached the university after a change in management.

According to the Culture Ministry, 4,311 smuggled antiques have been returned to Turkey since 2003.

If returned, the mosaics would likely be displayed at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum near Gaziantep.

Modern Turkey contains the remains of numerous ancient civilizations, including Hittite, Greek, Phrygian and Roman.

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