Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cypriot antiquities rescue from the Turkish deep state

Hardy, S A. 2010: "Cypriot antiquities rescue from the Turkish Deep State: The rescue of forgeries, and the death of Stephanos Stephanou". Paper presented at the World Archaeological Congress International Conference on Archaeology in Conflict, Vienna, Austria, 6th-10th April. Available at:

Looting of Cypriot cultural heritage has been a problem since the Nineteenth Century, but a paramilitary-controlled illicit antiquities trade was established and grew massively during the intercommunal conflict of 1963-1974. After the Greek junta-backed coup and the Turkish invasion of 1974, the worst extremes continued in northern Cyprus.

Looted antiquities' "rescue" has long been one "solution". This solution has included not only a secret agreement between Greek Cypriot archaeologists and Greek Cypriot private collectors, but also apparently illegal Greek Cypriot undercover antiquities police purchasing from Turkish Cypriot and Turkish nationalist terrorist groups.

Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot administrations' mutual non-cooperation has elicited tragic consequences not only for Cypriot cultural heritage. In this talk, I explore Greek Cypriot undercover antiquities police agent Stephanos Stephanou's arrest by Turkish Cypriot antiquities police, and his death in Turkish Cypriot custody.

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