Wednesday 2 March 2011
Germany authorities on Friday hit back at Turkish Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay after he demanded the return of an ancient sphinx uncovered from a German archeological dig nearly a century ago.
In an interview with Thursday’s Tagesspiegel, Günay gave Germany until June to hand back the priceless artifact, thought to date from around 1400 BC, else Ankara would revoke permits for other German excavations.
But in a statement issued Friday, the president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which groups together Berlin’s main museums, said that Turkey had been clamoring for the return of the sphinx since the 1930s.
«Nothing has changed since then in the legal interpretation of the case either on the German side or the Turkish side», said Hermann Parzinger.
«Given the particular nature and history of German-Turkish relations, we need to find a new, constructive way to solve this case», he added. «Threatening to close German digs in Turkey … does not create a climate in which a positive solution can be found.»
Günay has also threatened several other German archaeological digs around the country, saying the permits could go to Turkish scientists.
The Hittites were a Bronze Age Indo-European people of Anatolia. They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia ca. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height ca. the 14th century BC, encompassing a large part of Anatolia, north-western Syria about as far south as the mouth of the Litani River (in present-day Lebanon), and eastward into upper Mesopotamia.