The Adventure of The Treasury of Croesus

The Adventure of The Treasury of Croesus

In July 1970, Sunday Times correspondent Peter Hopkirk called journalist Özgen Acar, known for his passion for archeology. From what he has heard, the Metropolitan Museum in New York has purchased the treasure of Kroisos (Croesus) the King of Lydia by paying $ 1.7 million and keeps it in his warehouse.

The journalist offers Acar to work with him on this subject. If such a respected museum has become an instrument to such smuggling, it is worthy of research. Acar learns the characteristics of stolen parts from smugglers. However, he reserves this information for 16 years. According to his words in his interviews, if he were to open up this information, the museum could have avoided exhibiting them.


Finally, 55 of the 363 pieces that were stolen are exhibited in the exhibition “East Greek Works” in 1984 and a catalog is printed. Acar travels to New York and compares the parts described to him with the parts in the exhibition. After two years of research, he decides that the works are the same and announces it to the world through the Turkish press. Then the Turkish government moves and prosecute a suit against the Metropolitan Museum. After a six-year struggle and three days before the time-out, the Metropolitan Museum returns the treasure when it realizes it will lose.


This treasure, which is associated with the last king of the Lydians Kroisos, known as Karun in Anatolia who caused the expression of “rich as croesus” to describe the rich people, is known as the Treasure of Lydia or the Treasures of Karun. Some of the fragments removed from the tumulus where the Lydian rich were buried are first stlen in 1965 from the Toptepe Tumulus located in Haylaz, Güre, 20 km from Uşak. While Ahmet Bülbül, the leader of a group of five, sleeps at the top of the tumulus, he feels a slight collapse in the western part of the complex, digging a 15 meter gallery along with the others, they reach the grave chamber of the largest tumulus in just three days. In this princess grave, there are gold, silver jewelry and a pinch of hair on the dead bed called as “kline.” Bülbül inserts the artifacts into his  rubber boots and takes them to the village. After searching for a client for a week, the works are sold to Dinarlı Şakir (Şakir of Dinar), for 78 thousand TL as a result of bargaining. Bulbul and smugglers in his team share the money they receive, each one buys a house. Bulbul gives, as hushmoney, two acorns from the acorn necklace to the ladies of the team for they can make earrings for themselves; but for fear of gossip, he  collects them and promises giving dress fabric. Bülbül was able to tell every single piece of what they took out from the tumulus, even after 20 years. Dinarlı Şakir smuggles the artifacts abroad and playes a role in reaching them to the Metropolitan Museum. 


A year later, again in Güre, this time at Köprübaşı, a team of 11 people robbs the İkiztepe Tumulus. After a two-week excavation, they enter the burial chamber on an interesting date, 06.06.1966, at 06:00. According to the archaeologists’ findings, they steals the bronze and earth Lydian period pieces of gold and silver from the grave of the Lydian governor of the region and his wife. For that everyone is afraid to hide the goods, the gangleader Durmuş Ersoy takes the goods to his house, hides what he likes under the fertilizer and hiding the others somewhere else. However, as a result of a denounce from the village, the gendarmerie searches the house, Ersoy takes his hide and escapes from the backyard. Works are sold abroad in a way similar to the previous one. Smugglers are sentenced to three months in prison. Just like the curse of Tuthankamon’s grave, those who enter the İkiztepe Tumulus are exposed to incredible curses. One of the sons of gangleader is killed, his bridegroom is crushed by a tractor that he bought with his share of the sold artifacts, and the other son has a traffic accident; Durmuş Ersoy becomes paralyzed and bedridden and dies.  From the gang, Mustafa’s son commits suicide in the jungle, he loses his land, animals, his wife leaves him and he goes missing. The whole village still mentions the curse of the grave.


In 1968, the turn is on Aktepe Tumulus. The two hunters follow a fox and enter a grave that robbed in antiquity. There are no valuable pieces inside the room, but there are wall paintings. While no one cares about it, the smugglers from Kula wants to take the pictures. They chop off pictures with chisels. In the meantime, they breake the soil feet of the dead bed painted with madder  and sell them with pictures. In 1989, this time the sarcophagus is reached in a month in the Basmacı Tumulus, excavated by archaeologists. There is also Kazım Akbıyıkoğlu, the director of Uşak Museum, in the team. These outputs from the tumulus, in terms of being from the same period as the others, is an important evidence in litigation between the Metropolitan Museum with Turkey.


At the beginning of 1991, a team of six persons, that four of six are Turkish and two of them  are American and  among which Prof. Ekrem Akurgal, journalist Özgen Acar and the director of the Uşak Museum Kazım Akbıyıkoğlu take place, by a court decision, examine the artifacts in the museum warehouse in the US and give a detailed report to the lawyers. The most important evidence is the confessions of the men that made the illegal excavations. An offer comes from America in 1993: ” We acknowledge that the property of the artifacts belongs to Turkey and we offer to exhibit them alternately.” Turkey does not accept the offer. Another offer comes from the Museum that everything will be delivered from the Metropolitan Museum in the fall of 1993 and i response this Turkey shall withdraw from this case. Turkey accepts this, and withdraw from the case. 363 pieces of artifacts are brought to Ankara Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, some of which are in the graves, and they take their places in Uşak Archeology Museum. 


In small but well-organized Uşak Archaeological Museum; each striking pieces of BC sixth-century Treasure of Croesus are exhibited, excavated from different tumulus. Among the pieces of the İkiztepe Tumulus; the notable parts are the human head-shaped and bellied bowl used for religious purposes that produces voices with the coal pieces put inside, gold-plated bellied presentation bowl, solid gold jewelery, rooster figured censer… In Toptepe Tumulus, The silver pitcher with a human figure that holding the lion’s tail whose legs are on a rim is one of the symbols of the treasure. In addition, the golden reels with beads, also one of the important pieces gold necklace made of acorn, 109 pieces of gold triketries, glass bracelet, sea horse brooch which is also one of the most unique pieces of the exhibition, lion head bracelet used for religious purposes, Amon Ra symbol (winged sun disk) sent from Egypt and paintings with choker and almond-eyed people paintings. An interesting work between these wall paintings is that the woman with headgear. Basmacı Tumulus artifacts that excavated in 89 and which was used as evidence in the lawsuit between Turkey and the United States are exhibited here. In addition, there are 450 large and small pieces in the museum collected from the clayey limestone dead beds at İkiztepe and Aktepe, the fake gates of the İkiztepe Tumulus and the wall paintings of Aktepe Tumulus. For those who can get out of the magic of the treasure, other finds from the excavations in the vicinity of Uşak are noteworthy. There are also empty mounds where the treasure was stolen.


Although the treasure has come to where it belongs but its fate does not change. It comes in sight that the solid gold Winged Seahorse Brooch which is one of the most valuable pieces of the Treasure of Croesus that Turkey struggled for 10 years and pended $ 40 million to bring it from US has been stolen from Uşak Archeology Museum and exchanged with its imitation in 2005. As a result of the investigation, Kazım Akbıyıkoğlu, Director of the Uşak Museum, who was found to help steal the brooch, is sentenced to more than 10 years in prison. It appears that the museum director was trying to market the brochure and that the buyers had also smuggled the piece in Istanbul. While being wanted by Interpol since 2006, it appears that this legendary part is in the town of Hagen in Germany and German authorities deliveres the legendary part  to Turkey in 2013.