A Roman marble sarcophagus depicting the Twelve Labours of Hercules will be returned to Turkey, Swiss authorities decided on Friday.
The item had been found in Geneva’s customs office, imported by Inanna Art Services, a private cultural goods importer who claimed to have legal possession of the piece. Although for months the importer had been trying to block the return of the piece to Turkey, where it originated from, they finally announced through their lawyer on Tuesday that they will facilitate the procedure.
The 2nd century sarcophagus probably originates from the ancient city of Dokimeion, in modern-day province of Antalya in Turkey. In particular, it was probably dug illegally from the town of Perga (Antalya district), in the 1960s. It depicts scenes from Hercules’ Twelve Labours, and is one of 12 of its kind known globally.
Authorities have not managed to clarify how the sarcophagus ended up in the Swiss customs warehouse. An expert in cultural artefacts from the Turkish government, lawyer Marc-Andre Renold, said that the value of the sarcophagus is estimated at several million dollars.
After it is returned to Turkey, which will probably take place within the next few months, the sarcophagus will be exhibited and then transferred to the archaeological museum in Antalya.