A rare 3,600-year-old ancient seal used by a Hittite king discovered inside a lotion container during anti-smuggling operations in 2015 has been displayed for the first time, reports said Sunday.
The invaluable bronze seal, which was allegedly used in correspondences between a Hittite king and his scribe, had been confiscated in 2015 by police in Turkey’s central Çorum province, as smugglers were trying to sell it to collaborators abroad.
It bears various figures and hieroglyphics and is the third seal of its kind.
One of the two other Hittite seals is reportedly in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the U.S., while the other one is displayed in the Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara.
Çorum Museum Director Önder İpek told Ihlas News Agency that the judicial process regarding the seal is still ongoing.
İpek said that he is certain the seal displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art was most likely also smuggled from Çorum.
Çorum is known for its wealth of Phrygian and Hittite archaeological sites. The region rose to prominence with the rise of the Hittite Empire between 1650-1200 BC, as arts and local economy began to develop and flourish.
The region was also home to capital of the Hittite Empire, Hattusa, during the late Bronze Age, given its strategic geographic position and established “Karum” or “trade post” economic system.
Turkey has been fighting for the return of stolen pieces at home and abroad.
The issue is crucial to a country that is home to about 3,000 ancient cities from 42 civilizations, and whose tourism industry relies on its rich historical heritage to attract millions of foreigners each year.