Turkey: Trying to Regain the Country's Lost Marbles
It may not be as famous as the Elgin marbles, which were taken from Greece by an Ottoman-era British diplomat, but a marble head sitting in storage in a London museum could create friction between England and Turkey. From the Independent:
Turkey is demanding the return of an ancient marble head, now languishing in the stores of a London museum, which was taken from Anatolia more than a century ago.
The Turkish culture ministry has asked the Victoria and Albert Museum to return a 1,700-year-old life-sized marble carving of a child's head, described as bearing a likeness to Eros, the Greek god of love.
Tolga Tuyluoglu, the director of Turkey's culture and tourism office in London, said: "The Turkish ministry of culture thinks this item belongs to Turkey. We believe if an item has been removed from a country then it should be returned to the original place."
In 1882, the archaeologist Sir Charles Wilson, then Britain's consul-general in Anatolia, removed the head from the Sidamara Sarcophagus, a huge tomb dating from the third century, which he had excavated. The sarcophagus, which now sits in Istanbul's Museum of Archaeology, is one of the finest and most widely known of its type and period.
Sir Charles, who served in the Royal Engineers, conducted archaeological surveys in Palestine and Lebanon before moving to Anatolia, which corresponds to most of present-day Turkey, in 1879. He removed the head from the Sidamara Sarcophagus, which he then re-covered in the hope of acquiring the whole object. The head is that of a child with curly hair looking over his shoulder. Sir Charles's family later donated the head to the V&A, where it is held in the museum's stores.
"It's a complicated issue," said Mr Tuyluoglu. "There are many agreements between the two countries. We are discussing the matter."