Twelve pieces of ancient Roman mosaics, smuggled abroad more than 50 years ago and recently returned to Turkey from the US, were put on public display Saturday.

‘It is an important day for Turkey,’ Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy said during the official opening of the exhibit at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum in the south-eastern city Gaziantep.

‘The return of these missing parts motivates us in our efforts to bring back so many artefacts that belong to these lands,’ he said.

Bowling Green State University in Ohio said it obtained the pieces in 1965 but has no knowledge of their provenance prior to the acquisition.

Turkey says the ‘stolen’ parts were removed from the ancient city of Zeugma in Gaziantep in the early 1960s through unauthorized excavation work.

The missing pieces were brought home on November 27 as part of a deal with the university, according to the tourism ministry.

The parts belong to a larger set of mosaics from a Roman-era dining room in 2nd century Zeugma, featuring scenes from Greek mythology, according to state news agency Anadolu.

The mosaics drew international attention in 1998 when a female figure, known as 'Gypsy Girl,' was discovered. The figure is believed to portray a maenad - a female follower of the god of wine Dionysus in Greek mythology.

Turkey retrieved 4,319 pieces of ancient artefacts from abroad over the past five years, Ersoy told parliament in November.

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