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British Museum unlikely to return Oxus treasure

Officials at the British Museum say that it is unlikely that they will consider returning the Oxus treasure to Tajikistan, despite appeals from the country’s president [1] to do so.

International Herald Tribune [2]

British Museum says it is unlikely to give Oxus Treasure to Tajikistan
The Associated Press
Published: April 5, 2007

LONDON: The British Museum is unlikely to hand an ancient gold and silver collection to Tajikistan, despite an appeal by the central Asian country’s president, an official said Thursday.

Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rakhmon said Wednesday he was seeking the Oxus Treasure — which consists of about 170 objects dating from the 5th and 4th centuries B.C., including vessels, model chariots and figures, armlets, seals, rings and coins.

The treasure is named for the Oxus River — now called the Amu Darya — which runs through Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

“The British Museum is really here to present world culture,” spokeswoman Hannah Boulton said Thursday. “Though I couldn’t speak in advance of receiving a request, in principle the trustees are against restitution because it would detract from that mission.”

She said it was not even clear that the artifacts, which were linked to the Persian Empire, had originated in Tajikistan.

“Nobody knows exactly where it was found,” she said. “No one knows the ‘find spot.'”

Much of the collection was bequeathed to the British Museum by a wealthy British benefactor, Sir August Wollaston Franks, who bought the artifacts from merchants and a British archaeologist, according to the museum.