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Turkey seeks return of ‘stolen’ statue’s severed head

<i>Camille Bas-Wohlert/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>The bronze head of Roman Emperor Septimius Severus is seen on display at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum in Copenhagen on June 29.
Camille Bas-Wohlert/AFP/Getty Images
The bronze head of Roman Emperor Septimius Severus is seen on display at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum in Copenhagen on June 29.

By Elizabeth Wells, CNN

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(CNN) — Turkey is seeking the repatriation from Denmark of what it says is the severed head of a nearly 2,000-year-old Roman statue that was stolen from it decades ago.

The bronze statue dates back to 225 C.E. and depicts Septimius Severus, the Roman emperor who reigned between 193 and 211 C.E. It was returned headless to Turkey in March from the United States, and Turkish authorities say the missing head is on display at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum in Copenhagen.

The Glyptotek confirmed to CNN that the Turkish embassy has contacted the museum to discuss the repatriation of the piece.

The museum’s previous research had concluded the emperor’s head did match the bronze body, a spokesperson told CNN in a statement. However, the museum believes knowledge on the matter is “deficient and outdated,” because that research was done over 40 years ago.

“The doubt arises from the fact that there is no evidence that the fracture surfaces of the head and body fit together,” Glyptotek’s head of communications Sofie Konigsfeldt told CNN.

The museum has initiated technical investigations and “looks forward to obtaining clarity on the matter,” she said.

The new research will be used as the basis for potential repatriation to Turkey. The decision to return the artwork isn’t solely in the hands of the museum but also involves the Danish government, Konigsfeldt added.

The body of the statue — now on display at the Antalya Archeological Museum — was repatriated from the United States, where it had been on display at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art since 2011.

The statue was stolen in the 1960s from an archeological site in Bubon, southwest Turkey and smuggled out of the country, according to a statement from the New York District attorney’s office.

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