Friday, December 02, 2011

1,500-year-old mosaic tiles returned to Hagia Sophia after 55 years

Eliza B. Chrystie was given the historic mosaic pieces by employees at the Hagia Sophia in 1956 during a visit to Turkey with her husband, a soldier, who had a meeting to attend in Ankara. The couple visited İstanbul, where they went to see the Hagia Sophia, which was under restoration at the time. The employees gave Chrystie five mosaic tiles made of stone and six tiles made from gold-leaf-plated glass, Radikal reported, which she put in her bag and stored in her home for years. 

But, according to the Radikal report, she started feeling very remorseful and suffered from nightmares for years.
She returned to İstanbul with her sister in September to deliver the mosaic tiles and stones to their rightful owner. Not daring to return them herself to Hagia Sophia officials, she instead gave them to a jeweler while shopping in Sultanahmet Square.
Jeweler Adil Birsen told Radikal that he handed over the mosaic tiles and stones to Hagia Sophia Museum authorities. According to the museum’s report, “Chrystie felt uneasy and wanted to return the mosaic tiles to the Hagia Sophia.” The jeweler gave a copy of the report to Chrystie, whom he said then told him, “I can now live my life in peace.” Hagia Sophia Museum Director Hayrullah Cengiz told Radikal the mosaic tiles may look small but are of great value.