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The Metropolitan Museum

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10028-0198

One of the leading museums in the world took things up a level with the refurbishment of its Islamic galleries in 2011. Fantastic Mamluke rugs, elegant Izniks and the sword of Suleyman the Magnificent are on display in the carefully curated new galleries. The Damascus Room, a residential winter reception chamber (qa’a) typical of the late Ottoman period in Damascus, is one of the earliest extant interiors of its kind. In 1993, after a seven-year legal wrangle with Turkey, the museum admitted that the $1.5 million they had paid for the Karun Hoard of 363 artifacts from the time of Lydia’s King Croesus had been knowingly ill-gotten. These treasures can now be seen in the Museum of Uşak Archaeology in Western Anatlolia.

Another contested treasure is the Antioch Chalice, which some claim was taken by the French when they occupied Antalya (Antioch) in the early 19th century. For a while it was touted as the Holy Grail, but it dates from the 6th century and may have come from St Sergios church in Kaper Koraon southeast of Antalya.

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Issue 59, June 2019 Behind Closed Doors
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