Swiss Customs finds a sarcophagus of suspect origins

Geneva, 28 March 2012, Art Media Agency (AMA).

Turkey is claiming ownership of a sarcophagus discovered at the end of 2010 in Geneva free port during an inventory check conducted by Swiss customs officials.

The Journal des Arts stated that since the Swiss law on customs was reinforced in 2009 — following the discovery of 200 ancient Egyptian pieces in 2003 and the updated trafficking of diamonds through Geneva free port in 2005 —, port authorities must maintain detailed inventories of deposited goods. This explains why a warehouse at  Geneva free port used by the Geneva gallery Phoenix Ancient Art were searched and how Swiss customs discovered a Roman sarcophagus dating from the second century BC. An investigation began in the summer of 2011.

Customs sequestered the sarcophagus and transferred the file to the public ministry of Geneva. Turkey is demanding its return. Their argument is clear: the excavation made near the southern Turkish province of Antalya was done illegally — which is what the investigation seems to have confirmed.