Iran seeks to recover smuggled relics from U.S., France, England, Hungary, and Norway

March 15, 2022 - 22:38

TEHRAN – The Islamic Republic of Iran seeks to bring back some 100 relics that have been smuggled into the U.S., France, England, Hungary, and Norway.

“We are following 13 cases of returning historical objects, including about one hundred specific pieces from the United States, Hungary, France, England, and Norway, which will be returned home in [the Iranian calendar year] 1401,” Director General of Museums and Historical-Cultural Properties Morteza Adibzadeh said on Monday.

Adibzadeh made the remarks at the National Museum of Iran during the opening ceremony of an exhibition of prehistorical glazed bricks recovered from a smuggler in Switzerland, IRNA reported. 

“Today, we are glad to see the result of one of the most important cases in this field,” the official noted.

In one of the cases, the [Oriental Institute of the] University of Chicago is getting prepared to deliver us Achaemenid-era clay tablets, which were on loan from Iran [since 1935], the official explained.

In 2019, the fourth batch of the loaned objects, composed of 1,783 pieces of clay tablets, was returned home after 84 years.

The artifacts were recuperated with a great deal of efforts made by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts and the presidential office for legal affairs, according to the ministry officials.  

Archaeologists affiliated with the University of Chicago discovered the tablets in the 1930s while excavating in Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire. However, the institute has resumed work in collaboration with colleagues in Iran, and the return of the tablets is part of a broadening of contacts between scholars in the two countries, said Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.

The tablets reveal the economic, social, and religious history of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC) and the larger Near Eastern region in the fifth century BC.

The Achaemenid [Persian] Empire was the largest and most durable empire of its time. The empire stretched from Ethiopia and Egypt to Greece, Anatolia (modern Turkey), Central Asia, and India.


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