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Iran Trying to Get Back its Smuggled Treasures from Turkey


16 May 2005



Iran is trying to get back from Turkey its 310 ancient artifacts, including a golden laid Bible inscribed on gazelle hide, priceless rugs, and some ancient coins.

Following talks to sign an agreement between Tehran and Ankara for retrieval of cultural heritage, the case of returning some 310 ancient artifacts, Iranian rugs and coins smuggled to Turkey is understudy and Iran is hoping to get back its heritage back home.

During the recent years, Turkey has been one of the target markets of smugglers of Iranian artifacts. Four cargos of Iranian treasures have been sent to the country in the past years, and now four legal cases are understudy in Turkish courts to retrieve the pieces.

The first case is for 298 pieces now kept in a museum in Turkey; the second for two silver works sold to a private Turk collector in Istanbul, which according to an Interpol report, were discovered in 1992 from a bus traveling to Turkey from Iran. The Turkish court studying the case has ruled in favor of the Turkish collector. But Iran intends to retrieve the silver works dating to the 6th and 8th century BC accordingly with the 1970 convention of UNESCO.

The third case involves the return of an ancient golden laid bible, two stone sculptures, and two ancient coins, and the forth involves that of a collection of Iranian rugs and carpets.

The Turkish court ruled in 1997 that the carpets just had designs similar to Iranian works, but had been woven in Turkey, so they were given back to their Turkish owner. However, the Iranian cultural Heritage is still trying to prove the case.

Considering the signing of new agreements between Iran and its neighboring countries to prevent the smuggling of artifacts, talks were held in December 2004 between Iranian and Turkish officials covering the four cases of smuggled artifacts and the new agreement for cooperation to prevent the smuggling of cultural heritage and their retrieval to their home countries.

The talks have been successful and the agreement is soon to be signed.




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