Friday, March 18, 2011

The Return of the (Hittite) Sphinx

via HurriyetDailyNews.com

It's not a book title - although it sounds like a promising read. I'm referring to the ancient Hittite Sphinx which Germany may (or may not) return to Turkey after a 100 year sojourn. Here's some history:

Via Hurriyet Daily News: The 3,300-year-old sphinx was part of a gate to the Hittite capital Hattuşa in modern-day Anatolia. It was excavated in 1907 and sent to Berlin for restoration and study about 10 years later, according to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. Turkey has been urging Germany to return it since 1938, the foundation said in a statement.

Part of a pair, the Hittite Sphinx was simply not returned because of the questionable effect transport might have had on the deteriorating statue. It's sister, in better condition, was sent back to Turkey in 1924, alone, and is part of Istanbul's Ancient Orient Museum. Now a reunion is hopeful, but repatriation of historical objects is a hot topic in the east.

(Ever heard of Zahi Hawass? He keeps Egypt's artifacts under lock and key, and heads task force to find miscreant mummies. (Rameses I?) There are ramifications for Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and any other country that claims an artifact's origin.)

Germany wants to be clear that this case creates no precedent. And while I do feel certain iconic things belong in their home countries, (It's disconcerting to go all the way to Ephesus and not pay homage to the real Artemis.) there is something to be said for spreading the history around. After all, accessibility is a very effective tool to encourage preservation funding, and there's no better teaching technique than a visit to the real thing.

And now I'm spinning a tale of two sisters...
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9 comments:

Matthew MacNish said...

It kind of looks like Darth Vader.

Sarah said...

I have to agree with Matt! And while I do think spreading history around can be important, I think it's at least as important to make sure the people of the country of origin have power over where their history travels and when it comes home.

Old Kitty said...

The Hittite Sphinx!!! Beautiful!!! I hope Turkey and Germany come to an amicable solution to this and above all I hope the artefact continues to be preserved and treasured! Take care
x

Elana Johnson said...

Interesting! Thanks for sharing.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh wow. So interesting that there hasn't been a way deemed safe to move it in all this time. I hadn't heard of these, but very cool history.

The Golden Eagle said...

What interesting history behind it!

Elle Strauss said...

Interesting post. I've never made it to the middle east, but I would like to go to Petra in Jordan some day.

Jules said...

At first I thought this was leading to a Hitler looting thing, glad it wasn't. BTW, when that little sister is reduced in a dashboard view she is... quite ugly :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

taio said...

superb

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