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Britain Plans to Return Jiroft's Artifacts

Britain has agreed to hand over to Iran some ancient relics seized in London over a month ago, announced Dr. Taha Hashemi, legal and international deputy of Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO), Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency reported.

"Following ceaseless diplomatic efforts of Iranian embassy staff, the hand over process is almost paved and soon British officials would return the artifacts to Iran," he told CHN, referring to relics looted from Jiroft, south of Iran, about three years ago and some of which are seized in London.

In January 2001 a group of Iranians from Jiroft in the southwestern province of Kerman stumbled upon an ancient tomb. Inside they found a hoard of objects decorated with highly distinctive engravings of animals, mythological figures and architectural motifs.

They did not realize it at the time but they had just made one of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries of recent years, one that is radically altering accepted notions of the development of the world's earliest civilizations in Iran and Mesopotamia between the fourth and third millennia BC. A few weeks after the discovery, officials from Iran's Ministry of Culture, vastly outnumbered by local people, watched hopelessly as thousands systematically dug up the area. The locals set up a highly organized impromptu system to manage the looting: each family was allocated an equal plot of six square-meters to dig.

This organized pillaging continued for an entire year. Dozens of tombs were discovered, some containing up to 60 objects, and thousands of ancient objects were removed. All of these were destined for overseas markets.

... Payvand News - 9/11/04 ... --

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