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Persepolis Bas-relief among Police Haul in Isfahan


07 September 2004




After a police sweep on artifact smugglers two weeks ago in the historical Iranian city of Isfahan, experts have recognized a bas-relief belonging to the famed palaces of Persepolis, 3 ancient earthenware vessels and a stone statue of a lion’s head.

Isfahan’s local police managed to seize the smuggled artifacts in late August in a crackdown operation on two smugglers of historical relics who were carrying over 30 artifacts. The defendants first claimed the contrabands belong to Kuwait’s National Museum, which was plundered during the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91. Iranian experts refuted their claim, however.

“Following thorough studies, we concluded all the artifacts date back from the Achaemenid dynasty to the Safavid era, all obtained in illegal excavations or stolen from historical sites,” said Mohsen Javeri, an expert with Isfahan’s Cultural Heritage Organization (CHO), insisting all the nabbed artifacts belong to Iran.

He enlisted the seized items as “22 coins dating from the Sasanid to Safavid eras, 3 pottery vessels, a blue stone statue of a lion’s head and an Achaemenid bas-relief measuring 40 in 25 cm, depicting a Median soldier.”

Police had also found a painting in the haul and thought it belonged to Picasso, but Javeri argued it is signed by someone named Picacho over 50 years ago. 


Plundering Iranian relics became normal practice by high ranking officials and their families as well as opportunist dealers and smugglers since 1979 Islamic Revolution. 





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