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Britain Will Return 118 Stolen Jiroft Artifacts


05 March 2005



A 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 the event.

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.



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