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Photos: Iranian artifacts recovered in foreign auctions on display at Tehran exhibit


Report by Tehran Times; photos by Amin Allahyari, Mehr News Agency

A collection of ancient Iranian artifacts, which had been recovered in foreign auctions, was showcased on Thursday in an exhibition at the National Museum of Iran. The collection comprises 50 Achaemenid tablets, bronze artifacts from the Lorestan regions, and some stone relics from the Jiroft civilization.

The Achaemenid tablets are part of tens of thousands of tablets and tablet fragments that were loaned to the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute in 1937 for study.

The artifacts bear cuneiform script explaining administrative details of the Achaemenid Empire from about 500 BC during the reigns of Darius the Great, Xerxes and Artaxerxes I.

A group of 179 complete tablets was returned in 1948, and another group of more than 37,000 tablet fragments was returned in 1951.

In spring 2006, U.S. District Court Judge Blanche Manning ruled that a group of people injured by a 1997 bombing in Israel could seize 300 tablets of the group loaned to the University of Chicago and the university cannot protect Iran's ownership rights to the artifacts.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected confiscation of the tablets in March 2011. However it ruled that the case should be returned to the lower court for further argument.

The 5000-year-old Jiroft collection was returned to Iran in November 2011. In 2005, 18 artifacts smuggled from the ancient site of Jiroft in southern Iran were to be sold at London's Barakat Gallery.

Iran sued the gallery in an attempt to recover the collection. In March 2007, London's High Court had rejected Iran's ownership of the artifacts, but Iran appealed the court's decision in May.

The London appellate court ruled in December 2007 that the gallery must return the artifacts. The gallery then lodged an appeal against the appellate court's ruling.

Iran announced in November 2011 that it won the appeal in court.

Running until May 31, the exhibition also has bronze artifacts dating back the 1st millennium BC from the southwestern Iranian province of Lorestan on display.


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