An exhibit showcasing recently returned pieces of the ancient “Gypsy girl” mosaic opened in Turkey on Saturday.
“Every artwork is beautiful and meaningful in its homeland, where it belongs,” said Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Turkey’s culture and tourism minister, at the show opening, marking the pieces’ return from a U.S. university.
“The basis of our policies is to protect the cultural heritage of all civilizations that lived on our lands,” he said at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey.
Turkey will continue to pursue the return of cultural heritage smuggled abroad, he added.
Discovered in the early 1960s during unauthorized excavations in the ancient Roman town of Zeugma, pieces of the mosaic were smuggled abroad and ended up at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, bought for $35,000.
Under an agreement signed this May by the university and the Culture and Tourism Ministry, 12 pieces of the mosaic were sent back to Turkey.
After the current temporary exhibit, the mosaics will be restored to their original place in the larger mosaic, famed for the ancient girl's haunting eyes.