An eight century BC Cypriot jug likely smuggled out of the country during the 1974 Turkish invasion was found in the Netherlands, it emerged on Tuesday.
The antiquities department said the jug was found when it went up for auction in September through the Omnia auction house in Kolham, Gronigen.
Auctioneer Hans Raspe returned the jug, which has purple concentric circles, to the head of the antiquities department Marina Solomidou Ieronymidou, during an event in Leiden at the national museum of antiquities.
The jug will be kept at the Dutch museum, after it was handed over to the museum’s director Wim Weijland, as a long-term loan. This is due to the longstanding and “excellent relations” between Cyprus and the museum, the antiquities department said.
According to Ieronymidou, the department closely follows Cyprus’ cultural heritage across the world and found the jug as soon as it went up for auction. Both the embassy of Cyprus in the Netherlands as well as the antiquities department reached out to Omnia.
Experts from the national museum of antiquities that specialise in Cypriot antiquities, discovered the jug was purchased between April 1974 and July 1975. It is believed it was smuggled out of the country shortly after Turkey’s invasion in July 1974.
The experts also traced the origins of the jug to the north of the island.
Ieronymidou noted many ancient items from Cyprus including religious items such as icons were stolen and then found in the illegal art trade.
Ambassador of Cyprus to the Netherlands Frances Lanitou Williams said Cyprus’ rich cultural history spans 12,000 years.
“Over the years we have identified many Cypriot antiquities on the market, on sale for various prices. This is unthinkable for us Cypriots since the past, the historical and cultural heritage of a people, cannot have a price.”
Raspe said Omnia was a transparent auction house and there was no room for the purchase or sale of looted items.