Tehran, 20 July 2006 (CHN) -- By appointing the Washington Lawyer, Thomas Corcoran, as its representative, Iran has taken an important step towards defending its invaluable historical relics in the US Federal Court alongside Chicago University, who from the beginning has put a lot of effort to defend Iran's right over the priceless collection of Persian tablets which are currently being kept in the Oriental Institute of this university in trust for further studies. Chicago attorney, Michael McCormick on behalf of Chicago University and Thomas Corcoran as representative of Iran, will show up at the US Federal court to defend Iran's possession over the clay tablets, trying to win the battle in favor of Iran.
The chaos was created after an American Federal Judge ordered to confiscate the invaluable collection of Persian tablets loaned to Chicago University's Oriental Institute and put them on auction to compensate Israeli victims of the1997 Jerusalem bombing.
According to William Harms, the press contact of Chicago University, the Federal Court in Chicago ruled only of a narrow issue of law that the Chicago University could not assert the sovereign immunity of these artifacts on behalf of Iran and now with the appearance of Iran in the Federal Court, Iran and Chicago University can jointly defend the ownership of Iran over its invaluable historical tablets through their attorneys in the court. "There appears to have been much confusion as to the scope of the judge's ruling. The court did not rule that the artifacts can be confiscated and auctioned by the plaintiffs," said Harms to CHN.
Harms believes that with its appearance in the court proceeding through counsel, Iran has retained and been granted time to formally state its position as to the immunity of these artifacts.
Regarding the long period of time it has taken to study these Persian tablets, Chicago University explained that the process of reading the tablets was very difficult because information about the Persian Empire had been largely limited to non-Persian, especially Greek sources at the time the University experts started decoding the Persian tablets. "Information from the tablets provided an opportunity for the first time to gather data on the Empire from Persian sources," said University of Chicago.
In any case, according to Harms, although the University's academic work with the tablets is time-consuming, the majority of the Persepolis tablets have already been returned to Iran. These tablets were discovered in 1933 during the excavations of the archeology team of the University of Chicago in Persepolis historical site, the capital of the Persian Empire during the Achaemenid dynastic era (550 BC-330 BC) in Fars province which was the site of major excavations by the Oriental Institute at the time. Thousands of tablets were discovered by the team which were made of clay and impressed in cuneiform and record administrative details of the Persian heartland from about 500 BC. These tablets were loaned to the University's Oriental Institute in 1937 to be studied. The first group of tablets consisting of 179 complete tablets was retuned to Iran in 1948; another group of more than 37,000 tablet fragments was retuned in 1951; and the last time in 2004, 300 pieces of ancient Persian tablets were sent to Iran which was the first return of loaned archeological items since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
"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. I see returning these tablets as part of a partnership. As we complete our work on other tablets, we intend to return them also," said Professor Gil Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute of Chicago University, who has made a lot of effort to defend Iran's right in the US over the Persian collection. Last week he sent a letter to the president of Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization in which he promised to do his best to return Persian artifacts back to their home country.
In response to the recent claims made by Abbas Salimi Namin, Director of the Office for Iranian Contemporary History Studies, that these inscriptions belong to the Elamite civilization and not the Achaemenids, Prof. Stein strongly rejected this theory. "The tablets are precisely dated in the reign of Darius the Great, the Achaemenid king, who founded Persepolis. They were written and filed by an office of the administration created by Darius. Just as the ancient history and languages of the Achaemenids are part of Iran's cultural heritage and identity, today the ancient history and language of the Elamites were part of the Achaemenids' own cultural heritage. The Persepolis tablets tell us much about how the Achaemenids accepted this inheritance," said Stein.
After all, now that Iran has a chance to voice its opinion in the Federal Court through its lawyer, the authorities of Chicago University expressed hope to win the case in the next court which will be held on September 25 and return the Persian tablets to their home country.
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