Ancient Lycian inscription, depicting regret of parents whose sons committed theft, was smuggled from Turkey and was found by Italian authorities in 1997.

The inscription from the Lydian period is seen in Rome, Italy on September 19, 2020.
The inscription from the Lydian period is seen in Rome, Italy on September 19, 2020. (AA)

Italy has returned an 1,800-year-old Lydian era atonement inscription that was smuggled from Turkey.

Italian authorities handed over a historical inscription that dates to the ancient Lycian era to the Turkish foreign mission after decades of judicial wrangling about ownership, the Turkish envoy to Rome said on Saturday.

The historical inscription depicts the regret of parents whose sons committed theft. It was smuggled out of Turkey to Italy and was found by Italian authorities during a raid in 1997.

Turkish Ambassador to Rome Murat Salim Esenli (C) arrived to receive it from Captain Claudio Mauti (L), branch manager for the Protection of Cultural Heritage and Fight Against Historical Artefacts Smuggling, and lawyer Luca Bracher in Rome, Italy on September 19, 2020.
Turkish Ambassador to Rome Murat Salim Esenli (C) arrived to receive it from Captain Claudio Mauti (L), branch manager for the Protection of Cultural Heritage and Fight Against Historical Artefacts Smuggling, and lawyer Luca Bracher in Rome, Italy on September 19, 2020. (AA)

Turkey praises Italy 

Ambassador Murat Saim Esenli and an accompanying delegation received the artefact from Claudio Mauti, an Italian officer in charge of the anti-smuggling department.

Esenli said the judicial process continued for more than two decades and he praised Italian authorities for taking good care of the artefact amid the process, adding that Turkish ministries established coordination to bring it back home.

The Turkish diplomat said the return of the inscription would further add to the good relations between Ankara and Rome, and the move had historical, academic as well as bureaucratic and judicial aspects.

Prolonged trials 

Turkey and Italy enjoyed positive ties in the sense of cultural coordination as Italy returned a historical vase in 1991, according to Esenli who said smuggling historical artefacts still continued and both countries should reach an agreement regarding the protection of cultural properties.

Luca Brachi, a lawmaker representing the Turkish side during the trials, said the process was prolonged because judges in charge of the case were changed, but he was pleased with the conclusion.

An Italian court ruled on November 5, 2019, that the inscription belonged to Turkey, officially starting the return process of the historical gem, which was taken out of the Apollon Aksyros Temple in Manisa province of Turkey.

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Source: AA