January 31, 2011

Cyrus Cylinder to remain in Iran until spring following loan extension

Posted at 2:25 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

More coverage of the decision by the British Museum to extend the loan of the Cyrus Cylinder to Iran.

The Art Newspaper

Cyrus Cylinder to remain in Iran until Spring
The extension gives people from the provinces the opportunity to visit the exhibition during the Persian New Year holidays
By Martin Bailey
Published online 5 Jan 11

The British Museum (BM) has agreed to extend the loan of the Cyrus Cylinder to Iran’s National Museum. Although it was due to be returned on 16 January, BM trustees took the unusual decision to offer a last-minute extension. As we predicted, it has now been accepted that the antiquity, an inscribed royal decree of 539 BC, can continue on loan to Tehran until 15 April, after the Iranian new year holidays.

A BM spokeswoman explained: “This decision has been taken in recognition of the fact that the exhibition has proved to be very popular. The extension will give an opportunity for people from the provinces, including school groups, to visit the exhibition during the No-Ruz (new year) holidays around 20 March.” So far the Cyrus Cylinder has been seen by over 200,000 visitors, who are allowed in to the gallery on a timed entry system to view the antiquity for a few minutes each.

The BM has also responded to rumours that a replica of the Cyrus Cylinder was sent to Iran. In a statement, the museum commented: “It is very much to be regretted that reports have been circulating that a copy of the Cyrus Cylinder has been sent to Tehran. The trustees would like to deny this in the strongest possible terms. Before the exhibition opened, a panel of Iranian experts was invited to inspect the Cylinder and they confirmed its authenticity. The misunderstanding has arisen because of recent conservation work, which has led to the ends of the Cylinder looking different in various photographs. Conservation work on this and other pieces in the British Museum is an ongoing process, designed to make objects as stable as possible and render them fit to travel.”

The Art Newspaper can report on the real reason for the conservation. A small section of the Cylinder belongs to Yale University, and is on long-term loan to the BM. There were fears that a loan of the Yale fragment to Tehran might fall foul of US sanctions against Iran. It was therefore deemed prudent to remove the Yale fragment before the main part of the Cyrus Cylinder was sent to Tehran (The Art Newspaper, October 2010, p1,7).


Cyrus Cylinder will stay in Iran for another three months
Saturday, 08 January 2011
By Shimon D. Cohen – CAIS

LONDON, (CAIS) — Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organisation (ICHTO) has announced this morning, the Cyrus the Great Cylinder will remain in Iran for another three moths.

The priceless artefact was loaned by the British Museum to Iran on September 10, 2010 for a period of 4 months to be displayed on a special exhibition at the National Museum of Iran (NMI).

CAIS learnt on December 20, 2010 the Islamic Republic’s officials have requested the BM to extend the loaning period. Upon CAIS inquiry, the BM confirmed the report and claimed the decision regarding the request yet to be taken.

Bloomberg websites however published a report on Wednesday January 04, 2011 announcing that the British Museum has agreed to extend the loaning of the artifact for a further three months.

On the following day, Azadeh Ardekani the director of the NMI in speaking with the Persian service of ISNA rejected the Bloomberg’s news and stated: “I contacted the Keeper of the Middle East collections at the British Museum John Curtis, but he said he knew nothing of such an agreement.”

When CAIS asked the BM to clarify regarding the contradictory news, Hannah Boulton the head of the BM’s head of Press and Public Relations Office told CAIS on Friday: “I believe an announcement will be made in Iran tomorrow regarding the extension. A statement from the British Museum will go live on our website on Monday.”

It appears that the Bloomberg news was accurate, however, the reasons for Ardekani’s falsely rejecting the news as well the BM reluctance in issuing a statement remains puzzling.

It seems the issue surrounding the Cyrus Cylinder is politically motivated and related to the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who wishes to portray himself as a nationalist, in order to gain the support of the public.

Amir Taheri, in his recent article “Ahmadinejad’s Quest for Legitimacy” writes: “hoping to regain a measure of legitimacy in the wake of the disputed presidential election in 2009, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be trying to recast himself as a nationalist leading a struggle against foreign foes.”

The clay cylinder was discovered in 1879 by the Assyro-British archaeologist Hormuz Rassam in the foundations of the Esagila, the main temple of Babylon.

Considered the world’s first declaration of human rights, the Cyrus Cylinder is a decree issued by Cyrus the Great, whom Iranians consider as the ‘Father of the Nation’.

The cylinder describes how the benevolent emperor had improved the lives of the citizens of Babylonia, repatriated displaced Israelites and restored temples and cult sanctuaries following the Iranian conquest of Babylon in 539 BCE.

In the past few years a coalition of Muslim-fundamentalists, Eurocentrics and anti-Semitics, become to known as the “the Axis of Prejudice” who subscribe to the thoughts of Muslim fundamentalist Sadeq Khalkhali began a campaign to attack and defame Cyrus the great and his legacy.

Khalkahali, who was an anti-Semitic came to be known as the ‘Hanging judge’ for his brutality in post-revolutionary Iran, called Cyrus the Great “a despot, homosexual-Jew Lover”. In his book “Cyrus the Despot and Liar”, he claimed that Cyrus freeing the Jews and rebuilding the temples in Jerusalem as a hoax and was “propagated by Zionists to provide a created false history for Jews in order to legitimize the existence of the state of Israel.”

It is claimed Muslim-hardliners and anti-Semitics in Iran have employed a Dutch pseudo-historian to propagate Khalkahli’s doctrine regarding Cyrus the Great in the West. So far he has been successful as two of the prominent European newspapers, Der Spiegel and Daily Telegraph have fallen for his propaganda.

Press TV

Cyrus Cylinder to stay in Iran
Sat Jan 8, 2011 3:2PM

Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) says the exhibition of the Cyrus Cylinder has been extended for another three months.

“As the event was warmly welcomed by people, we decided to negotiate with the British Museum to extend the exhibition in Iran,” ICHTO spokesman Hassan Mohseni told CHTN.

“Based on the agreement with the British Museum, the relic will remain at the National Museum of Iran until April 7, 2011,” he added.

Hassani also announced that the Cylinder will not be exhibited in any other city and will only be displayed in Tehran.

“The Nowruz holidays will be a good time for people of other cities to travel to Tehran and visit the exhibition,” he said.

Many students, tour agencies and non-governmental organizations had asked cultural officials to extend the exhibition of the Cyrus Cylinder until the end of Nowruz (Persian New Year) holidays.

On loan from the British Museum, 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.

More than 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 had earlier said that 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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