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US Museums Morally and Legally Obliged To Return Iran's Fossils


News Category: Prehistory

 01 October 2004



About 25 years have elapsed since Iran initiated legal actions seeking the return of fossils borrowed by US Museum of Natural History from Iran for conducting research studies.

The Persian daily Hamshahri reported that Iran put forward its case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the US Museum of Natural History and the Los Angeles-based County Museum for the return of Maragheh fossils which they were borrowed from Iran for research studies. Iranian Museum of Natural History has also sought reparation for the delay in handing over the fossils to Iran.

The two American museums borrowed Maragheh fossils from Iranian Museum of Natural History for research studies and have delayed handing them back to Iran.

Iran has also sought reparations for the delay in returning 2,500 species of Maragheh fossils.

Director general of Iranian Museum of Natural History Asghar Mohammadi Fazel said that Maragheh fossils are the best for research studies and the delay in returning them has inflicted irreparable losses on Iran. The United States has also declined to share its research findings with Iran.

—The delay in handing over of the fossils has caused heavy damages to Iran, because in the past 26 years, we have lost all the raw materials needed for research studies, he said.

He said that the ICJ has ruled that the US should return the fossils and that the US museums have handed over part of the fossils, but, Iran is also seeking the outcome of the research studies conducted on the fossils in the past 25 years.

Mohammadi Fazel said that it is surprising that the US museum has sought compensation for keeping the fossils for the so long without obtaining permission from Iran.

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