More Than 16,000 Antiquities Stolen From Turkish-Occupied Cyprus

More than 16,000 Christian icons, mosaics and murals dating from to 6th and 5th centuries have been forcibly stolen and sold abroad since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, according to the Director of the Office for Combating Illegal Possession and Trafficking of Antiquities, Michalis Gavriilidis.

In a lecture he gave on Monday night at the University of Cyprus Archeology Research Unit, Michalis Gavriilidis said that after the Cyprus invasion in 1974, Byzantine artworks were even found in Kyoto, Japan (Fragments of Royal Doors from Peristeronopigi were fund in Kanazawa College of Arts). He added that efforts are being made to repatriate them and he hoped to return to Cyprus soon.

As Gavriilidis pointed out, illicit trafficking of cultural property is one of the most serious forms of crime today. “The annual cost of illicit trafficking and trade of artifacts and cultural goods worldwide is estimated to be more than $ 10 billion,” he said.


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