Turkey Accused of Turning a Blind Eye to Smugglers of Syrian Artifacts

Temple of Atargatis at Dura-Europos, Syria, a Hellenistic, Parthian and Roman city. This photo was taken before the civil war. Photo by PHAS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

Last week, the world marked the third anniversary of the crisis in Syria with vigils and an updated version of Bansky’s “Balloon Girl” stencil. Now, the Syrian government is alleging that neighboring Turkey is not doing enough to prohibit the smuggling of looted Syrian artifacts.

The ongoing conflict has left the country’s antiquities vulnerable to looting and theft, and organized, illicit excavations are reportedly taking place at important archaeological sites such as Dura-Europos, the “Pompeii of the Syrian desert.” Despite the efforts of police and border-patrols, UNESCO assistant director-general for culture Francesco Bandarin estimates that only “a very, very small amount of what has been pillaged” is being recovered.

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