The repatriation of over 80 Cypriot antiquities from the United States of America was successfully completed on 26th April, the Department of Antiquities, announced.

A press release said that the antiquities date to various periods of Cypriot history, from around 2000 BC up to the 18th century AD. These include, amongst others, ancient clay and glass vessels, limestone sculptures, coins and an ecclesiastical wall painting fragment. All antiquities had been handed over to the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Washington by the USA authorities or by private individuals.

A repatriation ceremony was held on 20th of April at the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Washington, in the presence of the Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus in the United States of America, . Marios Lysiotis, the Director of the Cyprus Department of Antiquities, Dr. Marina Solomidou Ieronymidou, Curator of Antiquities, Eftychia Zachariou, the Head of the Office for the Combating of Illicit Possession and Trafficking of Antiquities of the Police Headquarters (Cyprus Police), Chief Police Inspector Michalis Gavrielides, the Deputy Assistant Director, International Operations, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Ricardo Mayoral, and representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Custom and Border Protection (CBP) and the State Department.

The packing and transportation of the Cypriot antiquities was overseen by Dr. Elefthrios Charalambous, Conservator at the Department of Antiquities. The antiquities arrived at the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia on April 26  where they were unpacked under the supervision of Department of Antiquities’ Conservator, Eleni Loizides. The antiquities will be conserved and digitized as part of the Department of Antiquities’ digitization program.

The Department of Antiquities and the National Committee for Combatting the Looting and Illicit Trafficking of Antiquities thanked the competent authorities of the USA and especially the HSI, FBI, CBP and the State Department for their excellent collaboration and their tireless efforts towards the protection of cultural heritage and the combatting of illicit trafficking of cultural objects.

The press release noted that towards this direction, the Cultural Property Agreement that is in force between the United States of America and the Republic of Cyprus concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Pre-Classical and Classical Archaeological Objects and Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Period Ecclesiastical and Ritual Ethnological Materials, remains of extremely vital importance.

One Response to Repatriation of more than 80 antiquities to Cyprus from the US completed

  1. David Johnson says:

    This is a shocking mis-representation of what happened.  This collection of pieces is the Mud collection and was originally given to the University of California.  It has a proper academic catalogue over 500 pages long, published by the University.  The University decided very generously to give it to the University of Cyprus in Nicosia.  The  Archaeology Department were intending to exhibit it publicly and permanently in the University’s new buildings.

    The Cyprus Museum insisted it must be given to them and claimed they had the right to seize it if it came to Cyprus.  The University fought this for years but finally gave in and it went to the Cyprus Museum, contrary to the wishes of the donors.

    So what about all the long list of police and customs and FBI  at the ceremony?  All just to glorify the director of the Cyprus Museum by making out that they were seizing illegally owned antiquities, which was not the case. 

    Actually the Cyprus Museum has fought hard to prevent the repatriation of Cypriot antiquities.  A good example was the Thanos N Zintilis Collection which had been housed in the Allard Pierson Archaeology Museum in Amsterdam .  The owners wanted to re-patriate it to Cyprus and were met with the same treatment.  The Cyprus Museum would have exhibited the best pieces that they had room for and the rest would have gone into storage, with the huge number of other pieces the Museum has in storage.  Consequently the collection was instead given to the wonderful Cycladic Museum in Athens, where it makes up the whole middle floor.

    However I gather the new director (since the report above) wants to reset their policy and actually encourage repatriation.  I hope this is true.

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