The Department of Antiquities, Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works, announces that on the 26th April 2023, the repatriation of over 80 Cypriot antiquities from the United States of America was successfully completed. The antiquities date to various periods of Cypriot history, from around 2000 BC up to the 18th c. AD. These include, amongst others, ancient clay and glass vessels, limestone sculpture, coins and an ecclesiastical wall painting fragment. All antiquities had been handed over to the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Washington by the USA authorities or by private individuals.
Specifically, on the 20th April 2023 an official repatriation ceremony took place at the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Washington, signaling the return of the antiquities to their place of origin, which is Cyprus. The ceremony took place in the presence of the Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus in the United States of America Mr. Marios Lysiotis, the Director of the Cyprus Department of Antiquities Dr. Marina Solomidou Ieronymidou, Curator of Antiquities Ms. Eftychia Zachariou, the Head of the Office for the Combating of Illicit Possession and Trafficking of Antiquities of the Police Headquarters (Cyprus Police) Chief Police Inspector Michalis Gavrielides, the Deputy Assistant Director, International Operations, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Ricardo Mayoral and representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Custom and Border Protection (CBP) and the State Department. Also present were representatives of the Centre for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University and Dumbarton Oaks. The packing and transportation of the Cypriot antiquities was overseen by Dr. Elefthrios Charalambous, Conservator at the Department of Antiquities. On the 26th April 2023 the antiquities arrived at the Cyprus Museum in Lefkosia (Nicosia) where they were unpacked under the supervision of Department of Antiquities’ Conservator Ms. Eleni Loizides. The antiquities will be conserved and digitized as part of the Department of Antiquities’ digitization program.
The Department of Antiquities and the National Committee for Combatting the Looting and Illicit Trafficking of Antiquities wish to warmly thank the competent authorities of the United States of America and especially the HSI, FBI, CBP and the State Department for their excellent collaboration and their tireless efforts towards the protection of cultural heritage and the combatting of illicit trafficking of cultural objects. Towards this direction, the Cultural Property Agreement that is in force between the United States of America and the Republic of Cyprus concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Pre-Classical and Classical Archaeological Objects and Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Period Ecclesiastical and Ritual Ethnological Materials remains of extremely vital importance.
The Department of Antiquities and the National Committee for Combatting the Looting and Illicit Trafficking of Antiquities also wish to express their sincere appreciation and to thank the private individuals in the United States of America who voluntarily handed over the Cypriot antiquities that were in their possession, in order for them to be returned to their place of origin.