February 17, 2010

Row over antiquities between Iran & British Museum continues

Posted at 2:05 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

More coverage of the escalating dispute between Iran & the British Museum over the Cyrus Cylinder.

Fars News Agency

News number: 8811171637
18:14 | 2010-02-06
Iran’s National Museum Drops Ties with British Museum

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran’s National Museum on Saturday cut ties with the British Museum in protest at the delayed implementation of an agreement held earlier between the two sides on sending the Cyrus Cylinder to Iran.

“Now Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) (as supervisor of Iran’s National Museum) makes this official announcement that it will have no relations with the British Museum as of Sunday,” Iranian Vice-President and ICHHTO Head Hamid Baqaei said in a press conference here in Tehran this afternoon.

Baqaei said that Iran plans to send letters to the world museums to inform them of the political drives of the British museum.

“Iran will send letters to all world museums to caution them about the consequences of signing agreements with the British Museum before receiving relevant confirmations from the British foreign office as the Museum’s measures are based on political motives,” he said.

The official further pointed out that Iran has spent an approximate sum of $200,000 to enhance security systems at its National Museum in accordance to the agreement signed with the British Museum, and said the ICHHTO plans to lodge a complain with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to make the British Museum compensate Iran for the losses it has sustained in this regard.

Baqaei warned the British Museum against the grave consequences of its action against Iran, stressing that the British side will have to sustain huge losses as Iran will not allow British exploration and archeology teams to visit the country and it will stop holding seminars and exhibitions in Britain.

Earlier in October, ICHHTO Spokesman Hassan Mohseni said that after talks between the Keeper of the British Museum on the Middle-East section John Curtis and the Iranian officials, two sides agreed to display the cylinder in Iran for four months from January 16.

Mohseni further stated that the two sides had also reached an agreement on packaging, protection and insurance of the artifact.

The Iranian cylinder was discovered in 1879 and it is now being kept in the ancient Iran section of the British Museum.

The clay cylinder is inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform with an account by Cyrus II, king of Persia (559-530 BC). The Cyrus Cylinder is described as the world’s first charter of human rights.


Iran cuts ties with British Museum in antiquity row
Sat Feb 6, 2010 7:32pm GMT

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran has cut links with the British Museum over its failure to lend the Islamic Republic an ancient Persian treasure, Iranian media reported on Saturday, in the latest sign of worsening relations between the two countries.

Iran’s Cultural Heritage Organisation said in October it had set a two-month deadline for the British Museum to allow the public display in Iran of the so-called Cyrus Cylinder, linked to the Persian ruler’s 6th century BC conquest of Babylon.

The museum, which houses a vast collection of world art and artefacts, said in September that plans to hand over the 2,500-year-old clay cylinder had been delayed due to unspecified “practicalities.”

Hamid Baqaie, head of the state Cultural Heritage Organisation, said the museum had failed to meet the deadline, ISNA news agency reported. He said it had offered to deliver the cylinder by July instead but that this was not acceptable.

“The Cultural Heritage Organisation has cut all its relations and cooperation with the British Museum,” he said, adding the move concerned archaeological, exhibition and research cooperation.

Iran is already at odds with Britain and other Western powers over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy programme, which the West suspects is for military aims. Iran denies this, saying it aims solely to produce electricity.

Iranian officials have also accused London of interfering in Iran’s internal affairs following the country’s disputed presidential election last year, which plunged the major oil producer into political turmoil.

The Iranian government has warned of a possible downgrading of ties in different fields.

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 named after him, which some have described as the first charter of human rights.

(Reporting by Hossein Jaseb and Ramin Mostafavi; writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Andrew Roche)

BBC News

Page last updated at 01:53 GMT, Sunday, 7 February 2010
Iran cuts ties with British Museum over Cyrus Cylinder

Iran’s national museum has said it will cut all ties with the British Museum in protest at a decision to delay the loan of an ancient Persian treasure.

The Cyrus Cylinder dates back to the 6th Century BC and is regarded as the world’s first declaration of rights.

The British Museum says it needs to keep the artefact until the summer in order to continue its research.

But the head of Iran’s state cultural organisation said the move was unacceptable and politically motivated.

“The Cultural Heritage Organisation has cut all its relations and co-operation with the British Museum,” said the head of the organisation, Hamid Baqaie, according to Reuters news agency.

He said his organisation would send a letter of complaint to the UN’s cultural body, Unesco, and suggested Iran would incur considerable costs because of the delay.

Symbol of early rights

He also threatened to write to all world museums to caution them against working with the British Museum.

In September, the British Museum said it would have to delay handing over the 2,500-year-old clay cylinder due to unspecified “practicalities”.

But, last month, the museum said the reason it needed to keep the object was in order to compare it with two recently discovered tablets, thought to be from the same period.

The cylinder was ordered to be made by Persian king Cyrus following the conquest of Babylon.

Covered in tiny lettering called cuneiform, it is said to represent the first bill of rights and encapsulate religious tolerance.

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