CYPRUS: US returns 80 ancient artifacts, including coins and 4,000-year-old limestone sculptures

USA Cyprus

Aound 80 ancient artifacts, some of them older than 4,000 years, were returned to Cyprus by the United States after authorities seized them or individual owners decided to hand them back after discovering their true provenance, Cyprus Department of Antiquities Director Marina Solomidou Ieronymidou said.

Among the items are clay and glass vessels and limestone sculptures, some dating all the way back to 2,000 B.C., as well as an 18th century painting that was believed to have adorned a now-derelict church in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus.

Ieronymidou told The Associated Press that the two coins, one silver and the other gold, were particularly significant because they belonged to the time of the Cypriot kingdoms dating as far back as the 7th century B.C.

The artifacts were all repatriated Apr. 26 and are currently held in a museum in the capital of Cyprus, Nicosia.

The number of items accumulated as pandemic restrictions prevented Cypriot officials from collecting them in the US, Ieronymidou said.

Officials from multiple US agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security, were involved the seizure and return of the artifacts.

Cyprus has for decades sought to repatriate lost or stolen antiquities, including religious items such as church icons, frescoes and mosaics taken from churches following the 1974 Turkish invasion .

Ieronymidou said it was encouraging to see private individuals returning artifacts of their own accord after learning that such items often reached the US as a result of looting or other illicit practices.

READ MORE: Austria is reportedly in discussions regarding the repatriation of the Parthenon marbles to Greece.

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