Sunday, 25 November 2012

Uşak Hippocamp 'Surfaces in Germany'

Uşak [fake] hippocamp (Photo: Cihan)
It has been announced that the Uşak Hippocamp, an item of gold jewellery which had been missing since it was stolen from the Uşak Archaeology Museum in Turkey in 2005, has been found in Germany and will be returned to Turkey soon. The pendant brooch was discovered to have been stolen from the display and switched with a fake some time between March and August 2005. No information has yet been revealed as to how it was found.
 Speaking at the 31st İstanbul International Book Fair on Wednesday [Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul] Günay said [...] “The treasure worth millions of [Turkish] lira, known as the Winged Sea Horse, the most precious piece in the Croesus Treasure, which was stolen from the Uşak Archaeology Museum in 2005, has been found and secured in Germany. An agreement that the artifact belongs to Turkey has been reached between Turkish and German authorities. We are following the legal proceedings. I believe the Winged Sea Horse, which is vitally important to the Croesus Treasure, will be brought back to Turkey by the New Year or in early 2013.” Günay also said that a new museum will be built in Uşak and the Winged Sea Horse Brooch will be on display in that planned museum. However, the brooch will be displayed in an Ankara museum until the museum in Uşak is built. 
 The theft of the hippocamp came as a huge embarrassment to Turkey and anti-illicit-antiquity campaigners. It was one of the star exhibits in the so-called "Croesus Treasure" ("Lydian Hoard"/ "Karun Treasure") , a collection of 363 artefacts from the time of King Croesus' rule of the Lydian Kingdom between 560 and 547 B.C.. The hoard originating from Uşak province in western Turkey was the subject of a legal battle between Turkey and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from 1987-1993. The artefacts were returned to Turkey in 1993 after the museum admitted it had known the objects were stolen when they had purchased them. Twelve years later it was discovered that the hippocamp had been taken. The director of Uşak museum, Kazim Akbiyikoglu, was convicted of theft along with nine accomplices in February 2009.

Zaman, 'Famed Winged Sea Horse Brooch in Germany, to be returned, minister says', Sunday's Zaman,  21 November 2012.

Doğan News Agency, 'Karun piece found in Germany', Hürriyet Daily News November 25 2012.

For the background, see:

David Gill, '"The Lydian Hoard" revisited', Looting Matters October 19, 2007
David Gill, 'Lydian Hoard Conviction', Looting matters, February 13, 2009
Sharon Waxman, 'Chasing the Lydian Hoard',, November 14, 2008.
[Neil Brodie?], 'Lydian Treasure', Cultural Heritage Resource of the Stanford Archaeology Center 12 Mar 2009.
Gamze Gül, 'Curse of Croesus Treasure continues', Sunday's Zaman,  25 September 2011

UPDATE 6th March 2013
possible information has emerged only that "it was found in German province Hagen, the piece was kept in safe deposit boxes of German Central Bank". Hagen is in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Hat tip to PhDiva

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