Leipzig Research Institute Returns Stolen Artifact to Cyprus

Repa­tria­ti­on of an Anci­ent Sky­phos to the Repu­blic of Cyprus – Inten­si­ve Pro­ven­an­ce Rese­arch Leads to Suc­cess – Col­la­bo­ra­ti­on bet­ween Leip­zig Insti­tu­te, Embas­sy of the Repu­blic of Cyprus, and the Depart­ment of Antiquities

On Mon­day, June 17, 2024, the offi­ci­al cerem­o­ny for the repa­tria­ti­on of an anci­ent bowl to repre­sen­ta­ti­ves of the Repu­blic of Cyprus took place. The offi­ci­al han­do­ver of the sky­phos was con­duc­ted in the pre­sence of the Cypri­ot Depu­ty Minis­ter of Cul­tu­re, Prof. Dr. Vasi­li­ki Kas­sia­ni­dou, the Direc­tor of the Cyprus Muse­um in Nico­sia, Dr. Eftychia Zacha­riou, the Ambassa­dor of the Repu­blic of Cyprus Maria Papaky­ria­kou, and the Alex­an­der Mali­os Rese­arch Insti­tu­te (AMRICHA gGmbH) at the Embas­sy of the Repu­blic of Cyprus in Berlin.

The foun­der of the Leip­zig Rese­arch Insti­tu­te for Cypri­ot Cul­tu­re and Archaeo­lo­gy (AMRICHA non-pro­fit GmbH) acqui­red the anci­ent pie­ce in the spring of 2019 from an Ame­ri­can art dea­ler, kno­wing that it had been sto­len from Cyprus. He was par­ti­cu­lar­ly inte­res­ted in retur­ning the bowl as he, being a Cypri­ot citi­zen, per­so­nal­ly expe­ri­en­ced the pain­ful past of the island and has sin­ce been com­mit­ted to rai­sing awa­re­ness about the inju­s­ti­ces suf­fe­r­ed and fight­ing for a just future for his homeland.

In 1974, the Repu­blic of Cyprus fell vic­tim to a mili­ta­ry inva­si­on by Tur­ki­sh tro­ops. Sin­ce then, the nor­t­hern part has been occu­p­ied and sepa­ra­ted from the free south, an EU mem­ber, by a UN buf­fer zone known as the “Green Line.” In addi­ti­on to the many civi­li­an deaths and miss­ing per­sons on both sides of the Greek-Cypri­ot and Tur­ki­sh-Cypri­ot com­mu­ni­ties, the Tur­ki­sh inva­si­on also resul­ted in the des­truc­tion and theft of his­to­ri­cal­ly valuable Cypri­ot art and cul­tu­ral pro­per­ty. Churches were des­troy­ed, their mosaics and fres­coes remo­ved and sold, and enti­re muse­ums and coll­ec­tions loo­ted. Many of the sto­len objects were ille­gal­ly trans­por­ted abroad. One of the­se items is the now reco­ver­ed bowl, which has been retur­ned to the Repu­blic of Cyprus as a sym­bol of the fight against illi­cit traf­fi­cking of antiquities.

The ille­ga­li­ty of the bowl was dis­co­ver­ed through inten­si­ve pro­ven­an­ce and ori­gin rese­arch of the object being acqui­red as part of the work by experts from the Leip­zig Rese­arch Insti­tu­te for Cypri­ot Archaeo­lo­gy and Heri­ta­ge. A week after the object’s arri­val in Leip­zig and the final con­fir­ma­ti­on of its ori­gin, the Depart­ment of Anti­qui­ties, the sta­te anti­qui­ties ser­vice of the Repu­blic of Cyprus, was infor­med during a mee­ting in Nico­sia. Initi­al talks about the repa­tria­ti­on fol­lo­wed, even­tual­ly invol­ving the Embas­sy of the Repu­blic of Cyprus in Berlin.

The repa­tria­ted object is a so-cal­led sky­phos, a bowl-shaped drin­king ves­sel appro­xi­m­ate­ly 2700 years old, of high his­to­ri­cal value. The uni­que aspect of this pie­ce is that it was not manu­fac­tu­red in Cyprus its­elf but was expor­ted the­re in anti­qui­ty. It is fur­ther evi­dence of the Medi­ter­ra­ne­an island’s endu­ring importance as a hub for trade and cul­tu­ral exch­an­ge sin­ce the Bron­ze Age.

The return of the sky­phos is inten­ded to set an exam­p­le in the fight against the ille­gal trade in anci­ent cul­tu­ral pro­per­ty. This trade remains one of the pri­ma­ry sources of fun­ding for other cri­mi­nal acti­vi­ties. The repa­tria­ti­on also repres­ents the fos­te­ring of good rela­ti­ons bet­ween the Alex­an­der Mali­os Rese­arch Insti­tu­te and the Depart­ment of Anti­qui­ties of the Repu­blic of Cyprus. In the future, this coope­ra­ti­on will be streng­the­ned through the pre­sen­ta­ti­on of the Cypri­ot coll­ec­tion, com­pri­sing appro­xi­m­ate­ly 1600 objects cura­ted by the AMRICHA non-pro­fit GmbH, as his­to­ri­cal ambassa­dors of Cyprus’s histo­ry and cul­tu­re in Leipzig.

The AMRICHA non-pro­fit GmbH is dedi­ca­ted to the cul­tu­ral net­wor­king bet­ween Ger­ma­ny and the Repu­blic of Cyprus. It pro­mo­tes various rese­arch pro­jects, such as an archaeo­lo­gi­cal excava­ti­on of a sanc­tua­ry in Fran­gis­sa, near the anci­ent city of Tam­assos in Cyprus. In 2023, the first coll­ec­tion cata­log was published, making an important part of the coll­ec­tion acces­si­ble to the gene­ral public for the first time.

Press Release from the Press and Infor­ma­ti­on Office of the Repu­blic of Cyprus on the Repa­tria­ti­on of the Skyphos

Home­page of the Depart­ment of Anti­qui­ties of the Repu­blic of Cyprus on the Repa­tria­ti­on of Cypri­ot Objects

Addi­tio­nal infor­ma­ti­on and pho­to­graphs can be reques­ted at the fol­lo­wing cont­act details:

AMRICHA gemein­nüt­zi­ge GmbH

Wind­scheids­tra­ße 2

04277 Leip­zig


Tel.: 0341 30 31 186