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Is new information on the Cyrus Cylinder an excuse for delaying its loan to Iran?

The long running dispute over the Cyrus cylinder [1] took a new twist recently [2] when additional fragments from it were thought to have been discovered. Many are unconvinced by this though – whether or not fragments have suddenly appeared, is this a valid reason for delaying an already extensively postponed issue, or merely a delaying tactic.

Press TV (Iran) [3]

‘Cyrus cylinder does not have new info’
Tue, 12 Jan 2010 17:47:43 GMT

Senior Research Associate of the University of Chicago says finding new Cyrus cylinder pieces should not delay its exhibition in Iran.

“Finding new pieces of the cylinder is not a good excuse for postponing its exhibition in Iran,” Iranologist and Senior Research Associate for the Iranian Prehistoric Project of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute Abbas Alizadeh told ISNA.

The British Museum recently announced that some new parts of the cylinder’s broken pieces have been found, which might be a clue to the other documents sent by Cyrus the Great to other regions.

Alizadeh also said that if there are such pieces the museum should display them and such a discovery should not be a problem for sending the artifact to Iran.

“The broken part of the cylinder is small and based on the text of the cylinder, the missing piece does not give any information about more cylinders,” Alizadeh explained.

Head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) Hamid Baqaei announced earlier this week that the British Museum, where the Cyrus cylinder is currently housed, had invited an Iranian team to collaborate on studying the newly-found pieces.

The relic was set to be displayed in Iran from Jan. 16, 2010.

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 BC).

The ancient cylinder 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.

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

Iran has assured the British side about the safety of the priceless artifact.