Rare shrunken heads from Peru confiscated in Izmir, Turkey

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Some 1,045 valuable and rare artifacts confiscated in the Turkish province of Izmir, including what are believed to be several infamous shrunken heads called “tsanta” from the Amazon, are currently being analyzed by experts.

The artifacts were seized from a house and a warehouse during a three-day operation carried out by the teams of the Contraband and Intelligence Directorate of Izmir Customs in the Aliağa district of Izmir in December l ‘last year. Items included historical artifacts, ethnographic artifacts, oil paintings, church materials, books, icons, and archaeological artifacts from multiple cultures.

Among the rare artefacts, the shriveled heads called “tsantsa” attract particular attention. Once used as trophies, in rituals or for trade purposes, tsantsas are specially prepared severed human heads created by the Jivaros living in the depths of the Amazon in northern Peru and southern Ecuador.

‘Tsantas’, or ‘shrunken’ heads, believed to have originated in Peru and confiscated by authorities in December 2021 are cataloged at a police station in Izmir, Turkey, May 20, 2022. (AA Photo)

Several 'tsantas', or 'shrunken' heads, believed to have originated in Peru and confiscated by authorities in December 2021 are cataloged at a police station in Izmir, Turkey, May 20, 2022. (AA Photo)

Several ‘tsantas’, or ‘shrunken’ heads, believed to have originated in Peru and confiscated by authorities in December 2021 are cataloged at a police station in Izmir, Turkey, May 20, 2022. (AA Photo)

Foreign objects to be returned

The customs authorities handed over the objects to the management of the Izmir museum for cataloguing. Management experts are still investigating the origins of several objects and once established, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism plans to return the foreign artifacts to their country of origin.

The director of the Izmir Archeology Museum, Cengiz Topal, told the Demirören News Agency (DHA) that several reports on the objects have been completed and progress has been made in identifying the exact origins of each object.

“Within this group are manuscripts, paintings and certain groups of works that we believe belong to other cultures. We want to have them examined by experts who know their history. For example, experts have come from the museum Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to search for manuscripts and church materials,” Topal explained.

Some of the artifacts are thought to come from South America, Africa and Egypt, Topal also said. “Studies and investigations on these works are continuing. Once the artifacts belonging to these countries have been identified, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism will contact the competent units of the countries and the artifacts will be returned to the countries,” he said. declared.

Experts have determined that 870 of the artifacts, including carpets, rugs and important archaeological finds, are of Anatolian origin. Topal said that once the legal process is completed, these items will be cataloged and placed in a collection at the Izmir Archeology Museum for visitors to enjoy.

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