January 28, 2011

British Museum agrees to extend Cyrus Cylinder loan to Iran

Posted at 2:05 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Following requests from Iran, the British Museum has agreed to extend the loan of the Cyrus Cylinder for a further three months.

Bloomberg News

Iran to Keep British Museum’s Cyrus Cylinder Three More Months
By Farah Nayeri – Jan 4, 2011 6:55 PM GMT

The British Museum said it will prolong its loan to Iran of an ancient artifact for three more months, meeting a request by the Iranian authorities.

The Cyrus Cylinder, which went on show at the National Museum of Iran in September and was due back Jan. 16, will stay in Tehran until April 15 — after late March celebrations of the Iranian New Year (Norouz), the museum’s press office said in an e-mailed statement.

“This decision has been taken in recognition of the fact that the exhibition has proved to be very popular to date,” the museum said, “and the extension will give an opportunity for people from the provinces including school groups to visit.”

The cylinder, a 539-530 B.C. artifact dating back to the reign of Cyrus the Great, is inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform, and has been described as the world’s earliest charter of human rights. In 2009, it sparked a dispute between the museum and Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization when its loan was postponed.

The British Museum had originally promised to loan the cylinder to Iran after its 2005-6 exhibition, “Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia.”

In October 2009, following widespread protests in June against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the museum held back, saying it was monitoring the political situation to make sure conditions were suitable.

The loan was further delayed in January 2010 when the British Museum said it had discovered, in its own collections, inscriptions similar to the cylinder’s on two pieces of cuneiform tablets from Babylonia.

To contact the writer on the story: Farah Nayeri in London at Farahn@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at mbeech@bloomberg.net.

Press TV

‘Cyrus relic not to stay in Iran longer’
Wed Jan 5, 2011 2:33PM

The Director of the National Museum of Iran says the museum has not been officially informed of any decision to extend the exhibition of the Cyrus Cylinder.

Azadeh Ardakani said that the British Museum or Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) should officially inform the National Museum of Iran about such decisions.

Bloomberg reported this news and we do not “recognize” it as an official source, Ardakani told ISNA.

“I contacted Keeper of the Middle East collections of the British Museum John Curtis, but he said he knew nothing of such an agreement,” she added.

Bloomberg announced on January 4, 2011, that the British Museum had agreed to prolong the loaning period of the Cyrus Cylinder for three more months.

“This decision has been taken in recognition of the fact that the exhibition has proved to be very popular to date,” Bloomberg quoted the museum’s press office, adding that “the extension will give an opportunity for people from the provinces including school groups to visit.”

The Cyrus Cylinder was sent to Iran for a four-month exhibition which will end on January 10, 2011.

The cylinder was escorted by a delegation headed by John Curtis to the exhibition site where it was displayed for the first time in the past 40 years.

About 205,000 people have visited the Achaemenid artifact since the exhibition kicked off in September 2010.

The 2,500-year-old Cyrus Cylinder was to be temporarily handed over to Iran in September 2009. The British Museum, however, backed out of the agreement, citing Iran’s post-election unrest.

Tehran said it would cease cooperation with the British Museum until the cylinder is loaned to the National Museum of Iran.

Considered the world’s first charter of human rights, the clay cylinder is inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform with an account by Cyrus II, king of Persia (559-530 BCE).


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