Turkey seeking return of relics taken from historic Sumela Monastery

Academics from Turkey are looking to collect objects they believe belong to the 4th century Christian Orthodox Sumela Monastery in the country’s northern province of Trabzon.

The Turkish academics are looking to retrieve 77 items, including a number of metal objects, manuscripts, and garments from the Byzantine period after having gathered information from museums, private collectors and universities in Greece, Ireland, Great Britain and the United States, Milliyet newspaper reported. 

Experts believe many of the objects were removed and exiled from the monastery by the Americans during a NATO mission in the area in the 1950s.

The list of items that have been put together by the scholars, including those attributed to Alexios III the Great Komninos, Emperor of Trebizond from 1349 until his death, has been given to the Turkish Parliament by Culture Minister Nuri Ersoy.

Founded in the 4th century AD and abandoned in 1923 after the creation of the Turkish Republic and the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey, the Christian Orthodox Sumela monastery near Trabzon is a symbol of 16 centuries of Pontic Hellenism.

The structure was closed in 2015 and continues to undergo extensive restorative work.