Today’s Cyprus Mail reports on the arrest of 9 individuals attempting to smuggle a Syrian Orthodox bible from Turkey to the island for sale:
A TWO THOUSAND year-old Syrian Orthodox bible, believed to have been smuggled into the island from southeastern Turkey, has become the subject of major police operation in the north that has so far led to the arrest of nine suspects.The bible, estimated to be worth around €2 million, was seized during a raid at the Famagusta bus terminal last Friday where smugglers were seeking to sell it to buyers in the north. It is thought Turkish Cypriot police had been tipped off about the impending sale.Although the north’s ‘antiquities department’ refused yesterday to comment on the bible, because it was “the subject of an ongoing inquiry”, a statement from police said it was bound in deerskin, written in gold letters in the Syriac language, and believed to be around 2000 years old. The bible may have come from the heartland of the Syrian Orthodox community in southeastern Turkey, where a small community remains, despite often being caught in the crossfire between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish military.“It is very likely to come from the Tur-Abdin area of Turkey, where there is still a Syriac speaking community,” Dr [Charlotte Roueche], professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at King College, London told Reuters yesterday.
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