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24-05-2023 12:14

Repatriation of 36 Cypriot antiquities from Australia

The Department of Antiquities of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works announces that, on the 20th of May 2023, thirty-six (36) Cypriot antiquities were repatriated to Cyprus from Australia. The repatriation was made possible following the considerate initiatives of private individuals in Australia, who voluntarily decided to return these precious objects to their place of origin. The antiquities date to various chronological periods, ranging from the Bronze Age to the Roman period and include stone tools, pottery and glass vessels, clay lamps, metal objects and stone sculpture. The repatriation of the thirty-six Cypriot antiquities was made possible through the joint efforts of the Australian authorities, the Australian National University, the University of Sydney, in close collaboration with the Cypriot competent Authorities.

Specifically, the Director of the Department of Antiquities, Dr. Marina Solomidou-Ieronymidou, accompanied by Chief Police Inspector Michalis Gavrielides and Conservator Dr. Eleftherios Charalambous, received the abovementioned antiquities in Canberra and Sydney, where they supervised their packing and escorted them to the Cyprus Museum in Lefkosia on the 20th May 2023. The antiquities will be conserved and digitized as part of the Department of Antiquities’ digitization program. During her visit to Australia, the Director of the Department of Antiquities, Dr. Solomidou-Ieronymidou, was invited to deliver lectures related to the role and projects of the Department of Antiquities, as well as on the efforts made against looting and illicit trafficking of cultural heritage. The lectures were given at the Australian National University of Canberra and the Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation in Sydney. A seminar on repatriation and illicit trafficking of cultural heritage was also organized at the Chau Chak Wing Museum of the University of Sydney where both Dr. Solomidou-Ieronymidou and Chief Inspector, Mr Gavrielides, participated with presentations and answered to related questions from students and the general public.

The Department of Antiquities and the National Committee for Combatting the Looting and Illicit Trafficking of Antiquities wish to warmly thank the Australian High Commission in Cyprus and especiallytheAustralian High Commissioner, Ms Fiona McKergow, and the Deputy Head of Mission and Consul, Ms Michelle Anderson, the High Commission of the Republic of Cyprus in Australia and especially the Cypriot High Commissioner Mr Antonis Sammoutis and the Deputy Head of Mission and Consul, Mr Stavros Nikolaou. The Cypriot Authorities also extend their sincerest appreciation towards Dr. Georgia Pike-Rowney of the College of Arts & Social Sciences at the Australian National University, to Dr. Melanie Pitkin, Senior Curator of the Nicholson Collection of the University of Sydney and to Dr. Craig Barker of the University of Sydney and Director of the Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project in Cyprus. Warm thanks are also expressed towards the Presidents and the representatives of the Cypriot communities in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney for their assistance and excellent hospitality.

The Department of Antiquities, as the competent Department of the Republic of Cyprus for the protection and management of the cultural heritage of Cyprus, will continue its intensive efforts to protect cultural heritage and promote the repatriation of cultural objects to their place of origin. Cooperation and joint efforts of all the competent bodies, both at a local and an international level, is of the utmost importance in strengthening protection of cultural heritage, which constitutes a priceless and irreplaceable inheritance, not only for a nation but also for humanity as a whole.