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Another bronze statue head smuggled from the ancient city of Boubon returned to Türkiye

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, US, has announced that it has returned to Türkiye an ancient bronze statue head of Boubonian origin that it said it bought from an antique dealer in 1971.

The ancient city of Boubon is located in Ibecik village, Gölhisar district, Burdur province.

Boubon, which was a member of the Lycian Union, came under Roman rule in the 2nd century BC. There are ruins from the Hellenistic and Roman periods in the city.

The J. Paul Getty Museum has returned one of the bronze statue heads illegally smuggled out of Boubon after it was looted in the 1960s.

Boubon ancient city
Boubon ancient city

According to The New York Times, Türkiye has been searching for artifacts smuggled from Boubon in recent years. American museums and private collectors have been trying to return many bronze objects to Türkiye.

“We want to continue to build a constructive relationship with the Turkish Ministry of Culture and our friends who are archaeologists, curators and other scholars working in Türkiye,” said museum director Timothy Potty.

The figure’s torso has not been identified, but the head has been linked by some scholars to the Boubon archaeological site in southwestern Türkiye, the museum said.

An example of the many bronze sculptures found during illicit excavations in the ancient city of Boubon.

Most bronze artifacts from the Boubon archaeological site depict Roman emperors or their family members. The artifact returned by the museum is also from the Roman period, but it is still unknown whether it belongs to a specific person. The artifact, titled ‘Head from the Statue of a Youth’, dates from the period between the first century BC and the first century AD.

Türkiye has long demanded the return of many artifacts allegedly smuggled out of the country. Four of the requested works, including the one in question, were sold to the museum by an art dealer named Nicolas Koutoulakis, who died in 1996. It is known that the works sold by Koutoulakis were often smuggled. For example, a carving sold to the museum for 20,000 dollars (650,000 liras) by the art dealer turned out to be stolen.

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