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Sarcophagus Recovered in Geneva

Agathe Duparc is reporting this morning for Radio Télévision Suisse (Un sarcophage romain saisi aux Ports francs de Genève, March 26) that customs agents in Geneva have seized an invaluable Roman sarcophagus, among several other precious archeological objects. The seizure was part of an operation to investigate goods being held at the Ports Francs, where merchandise passing through customs can be stockpiled. The sarcophagus was discovered at the end of 2010, a monumental marble tomb dated to the second century AD. It is decorated with a relief sculpture showing the twelve labors of Hercules and is reportedly very similar to a sarcophagus currently on display (shown here) in the collection of the Antalya Müzesi, a Turkish archeological museum in Antalya. Turkish authorities have already made a legal claim to have the sarcophagus repatriated to Turkey, believing that it was illegally removed from the country following illegal excavations near Antalya. Other objects seized by authorities include two sarcophagi from Lebanon, in the shape of human bodies. The Hercules sarcophagues, Duparc also reports, was offered for sale in 2010 by Ali Aboutaam, owner of Phoenix Ancient Art, to Jean-Claude Gandur, archeological collector and patron of the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva. "The deal was not concluded," she notes, "because the item already aroused suspicions."

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