British Museum lends Iran ancient Persian artifact

10th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

The British Museum on Friday loaned Iran an ancient terracotta document called the Cyrus Cylinder, after a row in which Iran said it had cut ties with the institution, a senior official said.

"Today the Cyrus Cylinder, which has so far been kept in the British Museum, arrived in Iran," Vice President Hamid Baghai, who heads the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation, told Fars news agency.

He said the artifact arrived "under special security and will be on display for four months. Forty years ago was the last time the cylinder was in Iran, when it went on display for 10 days."

The Cyrus Cylinder was last shown in Iran in October 1971 during the reign of the former shah, for commemorations marking 2,500 years of the Persian monarchy.

In February, Baghai said Tehran had cut ties with the British Museum in protest at repeated delays in lending it the antique, and in April he was reported as saying Iran wanted 300,000 dollars in compensation over the delays.

On Friday he said the treasure's showcase has also been brought from London, and that on Saturday "in the presence of experts the cylinder will be placed in the display."

It will be shown in Iran's National Museum, according to its director Azadeh Ardekani.

Fars reported that the artifact was accompanied from London by British Museum director Neil MacGregor and John Curtis of its Middle East department.

Many historians regard the Cyrus Cylinder, discovered in 1879, as the world's first declaration of human rights. It was written at the order of Persian ruler Cyrus the Great after his conquest of Babylon in 539 BC.

© 2010 AFP

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