In the late 19th century, Constantinople, now Istanbul, became the collection point for all antiquities of the entire Ottoman Empire by decree. At the same time, an export ban is introduced.

What is considered cultural property in Turkey?

Cultural property in Turkey is considered to be objects from all geological eras, which have a documentary value and testify to the social, cultural, technical and scientific achievements in the past. Furthermore, all kinds of animal and plant fossils and human remains are included. Due to their importance for Turkish history, recent documents and objects related to the National War of Independence between 1919 and 1923 and the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923 are also considered cultural property.

What are the export regulations?

The export of protected cultural property from Turkey is generally not possible. Exceptions are only possible for temporary export for exhibition purposes.

What sanctions are there?

Failure to comply with legal requirements could result in a prison sentence of between five and twelve years and a fine of up to 5,000 per diems.

Chronology of cultural property protection laws

  • 1869
    Edict of Safiet Pasha, Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
    Edict on the collection of antiquities in Constantinople and the introduction of an export ban
  • 1874
    Ottoman Antiquities Law
    Regulation of the movement of excavated antiquities and the division of finds
  • 1884
    Ottoman Antiquities Law
    Regulation of the trade in antiquities; excavations as well as excavation licenses must be applied for
  • 1965
    The Hague Convention of 1954
    Protection of the cultural property of countries in the event of armed conflict
  • 1981
    UNESCO 1970 Convention
    Means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property
  • 1983
    Law No. 2863 of 1983 with Amendments in 1987 and Extensions in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2009
    Obligation to report finds; registration of cultural property; prohibition of transfer; regulations and licenses for trade, collections, excavations and export
  • 1984
    Regulation on the Export of Protected Movable Cultural Property
    Regulations on the export and import of cultural property
  • 1988
    Regulation on Movable Ethnographic Cultural Property
    Regulations on the trade, transfer and entry and exit of ethnographic antiquities