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Cyrus Cylinder loan to Iran by British Museum finally goes ahead

After years of broken promises, dragging of heels (by the British Museum) & footstomping (By Iran) [1], the loan of the Cyrus Cylinder from the British Museum to Iran has finally gone ahead. Whilst I believe that the Cylinder should eventually be returned to Iran on a longer term basis, I hope that Iran behaves responsibly & honours the terms of the current loan agreement, otherwise any problems will be used as a justification for blocking future loans of disputed artefacts.

Straits Times [2]

Sep 10, 2010
Museum lends ancient artifact

TEHERAN – THE British Museum on Friday loaned Iran an ancient terracotta document called the Cyrus Cylinder, after a row in which Iran said it had cut ties with the institution, a senior official said.

‘Today the Cyrus Cylinder, which has so far been kept in the British Museum, arrived in Iran,’ Vice President Hamid Baghai, who heads the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation, told Fars news agency.

He said the artifact arrived ‘under special security and will be on display for four months. Forty years ago was the last time the cylinder was in Iran, when it went on display for 10 days.’ The Cyrus Cylinder was last shown in Iran in October 1971 during the reign of the former shah, for commemorations marking 2,500 years of the Persian monarchy.

In February, Mr Baghai said Teheran had cut ties with the British Museum in protest at repeated delays in lending it the antique, and in April he was reported as saying Iran wanted 300,000 dollars in compensation over the delays.

On Friday he said the treasure’s showcase has also been brought from London, and that on Saturday ‘in the presence of experts the cylinder will be placed in the display.’ It will be shown in Iran’s National Museum, according to its director Azadeh Ardekani.

Fars reported that the artifact was accompanied from London by British Museum director Neil MacGregor and John Curtis of its Middle East department. — AFP

Press TV [3]

Ahmadinejad hails Cyrus Cylinder
Sun Sep 12, 2010 9:19PM

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lauds the Cyrus Cylinder as the embodiment of human values and a cultural heritage for all humanity.

Speaking at a ceremony held on Sunday to unveil the Cyrus Cylinder in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said the artifact has been an invaluable yardstick to evaluate the performance of politicians and rulers throughout history.

The Achaemenid relic, on loan from the British Museum, will be displayed at Iran’s National Museum for the first time in the past 40 years.

The cylinder was escorted by a delegation headed by the British Museum keeper of the Middle East collections, John Curtis, to the exhibition site where it will be showcased for the next four months.

One of the principles stipulated in the historical piece is that it repudiates war as a means to sustain one’s rule, the president said.

The Cylinder reads that everyone is entitled to freedom of thought and choice and all individuals should pay respect to one another, he added.

The historical charter also underscores the necessity of fighting oppression, defending the oppressed, respecting human dignity, and recognizing human rights, the president continued.

Ahmadinejad emphasized that the Cyrus Cylinder bears testimony to the fact that the Iranian nation has always been the flag-bearer of justice, devotion and human values throughout history.

“Talking about Iran is not talking about a geographical entity or race,” Ahmadinejad said, adding, “Talking about Iran is tantamount to talking about culture, human values, justice, love and sacrifice.”

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


Reuters [4]

Britain loans artefact to Iran after dispute
TEHRAN | Fri Sep 10, 2010 4:22pm BST

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran has received an ancient Persian treasure from the British Museum after a months-long dispute over its loan to the Islamic Republic, state media reported on Friday.

Iran cut ties with the British Museum in February over its failure to lend the so-called Cyrus Cylinder, linked to the Persian ruler’s 6th century BC conquest of Babylon.

Iran had sought $300,000 (£195,016) in compensation from the British Museum in April over delays in lending the artefact for an exhibition.

Iran is already at odds with Britain and other Western countries over its nuclear energy programme, which the West suspects is a cover for nuclear weapons. Tehran denies this.

“The Cyrus Cylinder, was (temporarily) returned to its homeland on Friday for the first time after many years,” the official Irna news agency reported, adding the artefact would remain in the country for four months.

Iran had set a two-month deadline late last year for the loan of the artefact and subsequently demanded compensation. The British Museum said plans to hand over the 2,500-year-old clay cylinder had been delayed due to unspecified “practicalities.”

Irna’s report said a delegation from the British Museum had accompanied the artefact and that it was transferred to Iran’s National Museum.

Cyrus is regarded as one of ancient Persia’s greatest historical figures, creating one of the world’s first empires two centuries before Alexander conquered the region.

He captured Babylon, in today’s Iraq, in 539 B.C. and freed Jews held in captivity there. He is also credited as the author of a decree inscribed on the cylinder, which some have described as the first charter of human rights.