group of Iranian experts is currently in London
preparing to repatriate 118 artifacts which were
smuggled from the ancient site of Jiroft, a legal
official of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism
Organization (CHTO) said on Friday.
“The experts are in London to pack the relics in
a scientific way for safe transportation to
Iran,” Yunes Samadi added. The artifacts will be
returned to Iran on March 7.
Over 100 artifacts from the 5000-year-old Jiroft
site in Iran’s southern province of Kerman were
discovered in two packages at London’s Heathrow
Airport last summer. British officials handed over
the items to the Iranian Embassy over the few past
months through a legal procedure in which CHTO
officials presented documents proving that the
artifacts belonged to Iran.
Known as the “archeologists’ lost heaven”,
the ancient site of Jiroft is located next to the
Halil-Rud River. Numerous ancient ruins and
artifacts of Jiroft have been excavated by
archaeologists, and also by smugglers
unfortunately, over the past three years. British
officials returned the artifacts in line with the
1970 UNESCO Convention.
The UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting
and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and
Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970)
has been accepted worldwide. It seeks to protect
cultural property against theft, illicit export,
and wrongful alienation.
The Jiroft artifacts are to be put on display in
an exhibition entitled “Refound Artifacts”,
Samadi announced, but he gave no place or date for
A number of other cultural heritage items smuggled
from Iran over the years which have recently been
returned will also be displayed at the exhibition.
In late January, the Azerbaijan Republic returned
two swords stolen in 1997 from the collection of
Tajolmoluk, Mohammadreza Pahlavi’s mother. The
swords were discovered by Interpol in Azerbaijan.
Turkish cultural officials recently announced that
they plan to return some items from the Seljuk era
which were smuggled from Iran to Turkey over the
past few years.
Iran intends to sign additional memoranda of
understanding with a number of countries to
prevent the smuggling of cultural items from one
country to the other.