Memorandum of Understanding and coin collecting seldom go well in the same sentence. Greece has recently extended its MoU with the United States to include coins as recent as the 1830s. China has declared any coin issued earlier than 1911 is “antique” and can no longer be exported without special permission.
Turkey means business when it comes to clamping down on antiquities and ancient coins being illegally exported from that nation. Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy used a Dec.21 press conference announcing the arrest of a smuggler to emphasize the MoU his nation has with several others.
At the press conference Ersoy said, “On this occasion, I would like to share with you the information that nine international agreements have been signed with Iran, Romania, Greece, Bulgaria, China, Peru, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the United States in order to prevent cultural property smuggling. We continue to work with Switzerland and Serbia for new agreements. I believe that it will be possible to crown our efforts with Croatia with a bilateral agreement that we will use effectively.”
Ersoy gave details of the recent arrest. “The total number of works consisting of coins, seals and scales, which are the subjects of our meeting today, is 2,955. At this point, I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Minister of Interior. Because our Ministry of Interior offers a very serious cooperation and support in our work with all relevant units.”
Ersoy was talking about the seizure of coins and other antiquities from a Turkish citizen in Croatia. The items were seized at the Bajakovo-Batrovci border crossing between Serbia and Croatia. The seizure involved what one source described as “Anatolian city coins and coins minted in the 5th century B.C. that have common validity almost everywhere in Anatolia.”
Other coins in the seizure were early Arab-Byzantine Islamic issues. This included a gold coin of Mahmut II as well as silver and copper coins.
Ervoy said, “When we look at the civilizational origins of the coins, we see Roman, Cappadocia, Seleucid, Pontus, Cilicia, Umayyad, Ilkhanid-Seljuk and Ottoman coins. As for the time period, we can say that the coins recovered cover a period of approximately 2,300 years.”
The minister continued, “The stamps from the 5th to the 11th centuries, which were used as postal seals, imperial seals, saint seals and church seals in the Byzantine period, and bronze scale weights, all of Anatolian character and belonging to the Roman-Byzantine period.”
Anatolia Operation was carried out by the Department of Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Ersoy said, “This operation, which was carried out simultaneously in 30 different provinces, including the center of Adana, and which includes countries such as Croatia, Serbia, and Bulgaria on its international leg, is a first in both its scope and the first historical artifact smuggling operation in the history of the republic, for the proceeds of crime. Congratulations once again. With the Anatolian Operation, which we supported as the Ministry with our central and provincial organizations, more than 20,000 cultural assets were seized without being smuggled abroad and handed over to the Adana Museum Directorate.”
We forwarded,” he added, “the detailed report prepared in this direction to the Croatian authorities and persistently followed the issue. I hope that the protective attitude, outstanding hospitality and cooperation shown by Croatia will be remembered as an example of the best implementation of the UNESCO 1970 Convention. As a result, on Dec. 1, 2021, the artifacts were brought to Turkey and kept in Ankara Anatolian Civilizations Museum.”
The Department of Anti-Smuggling was established in March 2020 within the body of Turkish ministries. The DAS is focused on operating in a multi-faceted manner. Turkish government press said the department has achieved “significant success in the international arena as well as in the country.”
Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said the work being accomplished in this field is an example of serious cooperation. “I would like once again to ask every individual of our nation to show the same sensitivity and to protect the relics of our lands and ancestors together with us.”
The Croatian ambassador to Ankara Hrvoje Cvitanovic, bureaucrats from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the Ministry of Interior attended the press conference.