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Roman-era mosaics home at last in Turkey's Zeugma

Turkey has welcomed back 12 fragments of mosaics illegally excavated and exported decades ago to the United States and they are now on exhibit at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum in Gaziantep.
Visitors take pictures of  the missing pieces of the historic "Gypsy Girl" mosaic on display in an exhibition at their origin in Gaziantep, Turkey, December 8, 2018. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RC1B70413E10

“Every work of art is beautiful and meaningful in the place where it belongs.” In a statement that is also a political manifesto, Turkey’s Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy welcomed back 12 fragments of precious Roman-era mosaics on Dec. 8. at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum in the southeastern city of Gaziantep. They were illegally excavated in the Hellenistic city of Zeugma in Southeastern Turkey and smuggled to the United States in the 1960s. “We will chase and bring back home all the cultural wealth that have been pillaged from this geography,” the minister said.

The fragments, about 50 by 50 centimeters (20 by 20 inches) each, depict theatrical masks, river birds and minor deities. They were identified by experts only a few years ago and recovered by Turkish authorities through an agreement with Ohio's Bowling Green State University, which had acquired them in good faith.

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