Smuggled Iranian relics returned home from Austria

April 5, 2021 - 18:48

TEHRAN - A total of 28 Iranian relics, which had been smuggled abroad decades ago, were finally returned home on Sunday. Last year, the objects were recovered and surrendered to a representative of the Islamic Republic in Vienna.

“28 historical and archeological Iranian objects, which had been illegally taken out of the country, were transferred from Vienna to Tehran by a diplomatic shipment today, and returned home by one of Iranian diplomats,” Mehr reported on Sunday.

“The transfer was made under the joint supervision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts,” the report added.

Last July, the antiquities were handed over to Iran’s representative in Austria flowing a series of legal investigations and as the result of judicial assistance between the two countries and in cooperation with Interpol departments in the two countries. The extradition session was attended by the head of the Vienna police criminal investigation department.

Among the seized objects, there are examples of bronze objects known as Lorestan’s pins, similar examples of which are being kept at the museums of Reza Abbasi and the National Museum of Iran.

In May 2019, Iran’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts called for the return of relics, which were discovered from a safety-deposit box of a bank in Austria months earlier.

“In Azar 1398 (the Iranian month falling on November 22 to December 21, 2019) through a telephone call from the head of Iran’s Interpol, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts was informed of the discovery and seizure of some ancient objects of Iranian origin form a safety-deposit box of a bank in Austria,” according to Mohammad-Hassan Talebian, the deputy minister for cultural heritage affairs.

Talebian explained that “According to experts’ assessments and available photos, the [seized] relics certainly belong to the geographical and historical realm of Iran [and they date back to the] first millennium BC, as well as the Achaemenid and Sassanid era.”

“Based on national laws and international pacts such as the 1970 UNESCO Convention, to which Austria is a signatory, it is required that the items seized to be returned to the Islamic Republic of Iran as soon as possible.”

“The images [that we have been received from the confiscated objects] show a metal rhyton in the Achaemenid style, which its counterparts are found in the National Museum of Iran and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; and a bronze headpiece of the Sassanid King (Shapur II), the original of which is made of silver being kept at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York….,” he explained.

The Achaemenid [Persian] Empire was the largest and most durable empire of its time. The empire stretched from Ethiopia, through Egypt, to Greece, to Anatolia (modern Turkey), Central Asia, and India. The Parthian Empire, also known as the Arsacid Empire, was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Iran. The Parthians largely adopted the art, architecture, religious beliefs, and royal insignia of their culturally heterogeneous empire, which encompassed Persian, Hellenistic, and regional cultures. The Sassanid era (224 CE–651) is of very high importance in Iranian history, under which Persian art and architecture experienced a general renaissance.


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