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The firm was shown the distinctive black slipware jug – a type commonly found as Yortan culture grave goods c.2500 BC – last year by a regular buyer of British studio ceramics.

Thelma Bishop, a former gallery owner in Manchester, had bought it with her late husband Malcolm when visiting Ephesus in the early 1960s.

Jason Wood, a consultant at Adam Partridge, was able to confirm the jug’s authenticity but, although bought in good faith over 50 years ago, it became clear it should never have left Turkey. The country banned the export of cultural artefacts in 1884. Wood advised his client that the jug (of modest commercial value) should be returned and with her agreement contacted the Turkish Embssy in London for advice.

The jug was handed over to the Turkish authorities on Monday, January 16 and will find a new home in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.

Wood said: “It is not every day that a prehistoric pot from Anatolia is unearthed near Stockport. Given its age, fragility and how far it’s travelled, I’m also astonished at its remarkable condition – better than some 20th-century ceramics I’ve catalogued.”