British police have returned an ancient prayer niche (mihrab) that had been stolen from a mosque in the central Iranian city of Yazd to Iran's Embassy in London, IRNA reported on Saturday from Tehran quoting the local press.
The Persian-language newspaper 'Siasat-e Rouz' quoted the legal attache of the embassy as confirming that the stone had been handed to embassy officials on Wednesday.
The attache added that the stone had been seized from an antiques dealer who had shipped it to London from Dubai.
The Associated Press (AP) had earlier reported that the art recovery unit of London's Metropolitan Police had seized the 900-year-old stone -- that measures 73 by 49 centimeters (29 by 19 inches) -- from the dealer who was trying to sell it for 100,000 pounds (Dlrs 290,000).
The stone, which is considered to date back to the Islamic year of 533 or A.D. 1138, was reportedly taken from the grand mosque of Abrand Abad village, 10 kilometers from the central Iranian city of Yazd.
Meanwhile, the Persian-language newspaper 'Jaam-e Jam' reported that the prayer niche stone is in fact a marble tombstone on the edge of which Quranic verses in three lines have been inscribed in Kufic and Thuluth scripts.
'Jaam-e Jam' added that in the middle of the stone -- which is the work of two Iranian artists named Abolqasem Kharrat and Mohammad Salam Mallahi -- the words 'La Elaha Ella Allah' (There is no God but Allah) and 'Muhammadan Rasoul Allah' (Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah) have been inscribed.
... Payvand News - 11/29/03 ... --