February 10, 2010

Does the British Museum really need six more months to study the Cyrus Cylinder

Posted at 2:00 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

As the Cyrus Cylinder debate continues, the British Museum claims that it requires at least six months to study the newly found fragments. It is unclear though why it is necessary to do this now (and delay the already many times postponed loan), rather than wait until the cylinder is returned at the end of the loan period. Of course they could be assuming that others will have the same propensity to break promises as they do.

Press TV (Iran)

London needs 6 months to study new cylinder pieces
Wed, 27 Jan 2010 17:27:00 GMT

The British Museum says it needs at least six more months to study the newly-found fragments of the ancient Cyrus cylinder.

The museum announced the discovery of new clay pieces in its storeroom, which seem to be copies of the Persian Cyrus cylinder, known as the world’s first charter of human rights.

The relic has sparked a diplomatic row between Iran and the UK due to a 2009 loan agreement signed between the British Museum director Neil MacGregor and head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization Hamid Baqaei.

The artifact, currently housed at the British Museum in London, was scheduled to be given to Iran on loan in September 2009; however, the British Museum backed out of the agreement, citing Iran’s post-election unrest.

The cylinder was also scheduled to be displayed in Iran from Jan. 16, 2010, but the British Museum announced in a letter that some new parts of the cylinder had been found, which might be a clue to some other documents sent by Cyrus the Great to other regions.

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

According to the Guardian, the two newly-discovered pieces had been hidden in the museum’s storeroom since 1881 and need to be studied for at least six months.

The Babylonian artifact was broken when it was excavated in 1879 and curators believe the new pieces are the missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

“We always thought the Cyrus cylinder was unique,” said curator in the museum’s ancient near east department Irving Finkel.

“No one had even imagined that copies of the text might have been made, let alone that bits of it have been here all along.”

The British Museum is planning to search through its 130,000 objects to find fragments inscribed with Cyrus’s words and complete the Achaemenid King’s political document.

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