|Iran to document U.S. ‘gift’ of silver griffin||
He regarded the artifact as “a special gift to the Iranian nation.”
The ceremonial silver drinking vessel, which is in the shape of a griffin, a legendary creature with the head of an eagle and body of a lion, was sent to the National Museum of Iran on Saturday.
“All information about this artifact will be collected and then it will be registered as a symbolic relic in the museum,” NMI Director Mahnaz Gorji told the Persian service of ISNA on Tuesday.
“At present we don’t care about the visual form of the artifact,” she stated and added, “Its message is more important.”
She said that the repatriation of the artifact could be a beginning to the resumption of cultural cooperation between Iran and the U.S.
The griffin was brought to the U.S. in 2000 by a New York art dealer named Hicham Aboutaam after being looted from a cave in Iran, but it was seized by U.S. Customs, NBC reported on Saturday quoting federal authorities.
U.S. officials had previously said they couldn’t return it to Iran until relations between Washington and Tehran were normalized.
However, the artifacts, whose value is estimated at a million dollars or more, went back on September 25.
“It is considered the premier griffin of antiquity, a gift of the Iranian people to the world, and the United States is pleased to return it to the people of Iran,” the U.S. State Department said.
“The return of the artifact reflects the strong respect the United States has for cultural heritage property — in this case, cultural heritage property that was likely looted from Iran and is important to the patrimony of the Iranian people,” the State Department added. “It also reflects the strong respect the United States has for the Iranian people.”
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