The Boğazköy Sphinx, one of two sphinxes that were taken to Germany for restoration during World War I, has finally returned home. After being away for 94 years and following many diplomatic struggles, both of the sphinxes, the first of which was returned by Germany some time between 1924 and 1937, are now on display at Boğazköy Museum. Ertuğrul Günay, the minister of culture and tourism, has said he places great importance on the return of the sphinx to its homeland, saying, “This is a historic day for archeology in Turkey.”
Turkey, being a very rich country archeologically, is among the leading countries that have been spending the most on archeology in recent years, and continues to make efforts toward the return of artifacts belonging to civilizations that lived in what is today’s Turkey. Nearly 1,900 artifacts have been returned to Turkey this year and over 3,000 relics have been returned since 2007, more than 1,000 of which were coins.
At present, 122 excavations are being conducted by Turkish archaeologists and 46 by foreigners. “We have spent more than TL 30 million on archeological excavations, modernizing museums and protecting ruins,” Günay said during his visit in Çorum on Saturday.
He has also emphasized that Turkey was adopting Anatolia’s cultural heritage as its own and would protect it, whether it be from prehistoric times, ancient civilizations or has Muslim, Christian or Jewish origins. “Now that this cultural heritage is on our soil, it is all ours. We are trying to protect this heritage and carry it into the future of humanity by the understanding that we are the fiduciaries of this heritage,” Günay stated.
Activities that have a cultural aspect naturally have a great influence on tourism. “We are making efforts to attract tourism in Turkey inland,” Günay said. The enriching and modernization of museums around Pamukkale in the Denizli province of Ankara and Çorum are some of the examples in this direction.
Minister Günay also inaugurated a monument to remember the Kadesh Peace Treaty, signed between the Hittites and the Egyptians at the beginning of the 13th century B.C., and which is believed to be one of the first written peace treaties in history. There is a part from the peace treaty as well as two parts representing the Hittites and the Egyptians on the monument. Boğazkale where the Kadesh monument and Boğazköy (the former name of Boğazkale) Museum is situated, is a little town in the province of Çorum which acted as capital (the name of the capital was Hattusa in the Hittite period) to the Hittite Empire.