Turkish police have found a remarkable haul of shrunken heads that headhunters tribes collected as they thwart smuggling rings in historic artifacts trading.

  • Around 400 historic artefacts were found in a smuggler’s raid across two addresses in Izmir, western Turkey
  • Experts from the Izmir Archaeological Museum are now in a position to inspect the various period relics in laboratory settings
  • This included 500-year-old skulls from the South American-origin Jivaro tribe and 18th-century paintings

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Experts in museum science are studying artifacts that were found during a raid by smugglers in Izmir in Turkey.

Around 400 finds, including 500-year-old skulls from the South American-origin Jivaro tribe, mummy remains and paintings from the 18th century, were seized across two addresses in the city’s Aliağa district.

Experts from the Izmir Archaeological Museum are now capable of inspecting the relics inside their laboratories.

The raid in Izmir, Turkey found some 400 artefacts, which included skulls from the Jivaro tribe, which are about 500 years old. they are now being examined at the Izmir Archaeological Museum

One hundred artifacts were found during the Izmir raid, Turkey. They included skulls belonging to Jivaro tribe. These skulls are around 500 years old. they are now being examined at the Izmir Archaeological Museum

A Jivaro tribe skull being examined at the museum. Museum director Hünkar Keser said: 'We think that they are at least 500 years old, made of real human skulls. These tribes lived before America was discovered'

The museum examines a skull from the Jivaro tribe. Museum director Hünkar Keser said: ‘We think that they are at least 500 years old, made of real human skulls. These people lived in America before America was discovered.

In the first search of a house carried out this month, Ministry of Commerce Customs Enforcement Smuggling and Intelligence Directorate teams found Byzantine period coins, four bone hairpins, 19 Ottoman manuscripts and 59 artefacts from other periods, local site Arkeo News reported. 

A second raid resulted in the discovery of four skulls and three mummies as well as 27 paintings, 269 other relics, and 27 paintings.

These 337 items were brought to Izmir Archeology Museum, and paintings were sent to the Painting, Sculpture Museum, and Gallery. 

Izmir Archaeological Museum experts examine artefacts in their laboratories. Mr Keser added people then began smuggling the skulls to Europe, but today it is forbidden to move them to another region

Experts from the Izmir Archaeological Museum examine artifacts in their laboratory. He said that people used to try to bring the skulls across Europe. But today, it is illegal to do so.

Around 400 finds, including 500-year-old skulls (pictured) from the South American-origin Jivaro tribe, mummy remains and paintings from the 18th century, were seized across two addresses in the city's Aliağa district

Around 400 finds, including 500-year-old skulls (pictured) from the South American-origin Jivaro tribe, mummy remains and paintings from the 18th century, were seized across two addresses in the city’s Aliağa district

Museum director Hünkar Keser told Arkeo News that some of the items seized will take a long time to examine as it is thought they can be dated back to the Neolithic period.

He said: ‘Our oldest artefacts are flints, arrowheads, which we think belong to the Neolithic period.

“We also believe that artifacts are from other cultures. These artifacts include tiny skulls that are the same size as oranges.

A painting being examined by experts at the museum. The 337 finds were taken to the Izmir Archeology Museum and the paintings were delivered to the city's Painting, Sculpture Museum and Gallery

Experts at the museum examine a painting. The museum’s experts examined the 337 found objects and delivered them to Izmir Archeology Museum.

Museum experts carefully examine the paintings found in the raid. It is estimated that they have survived from the 18th century

The paintings taken in raid are carefully examined by museum experts. They are believed to have been preserved from the 18th Century.

They are believed to be at least 500 year old. Their skulls were real. These tribes were alive before America was discovered.

According to Mr Keser, people began to smuggle the skulls into Europe. However, it’s now illegal to transport them to any other region. 

The Aliağa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office is continuing investigating the smuggling of artefacts.  
  

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