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Iranian Heritage at the Mercy of Thieves


18 January 2006



LONDON, (CAIS) -- Systematic thefts of antiquities from Iranian museums and their sale to Western museums are causing deep concern, the Persian daily Jaam-e Jam reported on Monday.

The daily noted that a national campaign should be organized against the network formed by burglars of artifacts from Iranian museums and the justice system is expected to take firm action against those attempting to trade “the nation’s historical identity by stealing antiquities and exchanging them with money“.

“Three years ago, artifacts of Iran Ancient Museum, including golden plates with inscriptions, were stolen and thieves stole a very precious painting from Golestan Palace as well as a rare Safavid carpet from Iran Carpet Museum.The theft of antiquities continued when an invaluable handwritten copy of a Qur’an attributed to Ali ibn Abitalb was reported from a museum of Shiraz,“ it said.

Police investigations on thefts from Iran Bastan Museum indicated that professional dealers of artifacts are making criminal efforts to steal antiquities. They revealed new dimensions of the theft following its legal action against the burglary of eight ancient seals stolen from Iran Bastan Museum. It also lent weight to the theory that there was collusion between some staffers of the museums and the thieves.

Police also revealed that in some cases the original artifacts were changed with a fake, which indicates an inside job. They pointed out that the alleged thieves have been identified as regular visitors of the museums.

The suspicion against certain staffers of museums increased after the statue of a wild goat unearthed from the Burnt City was found from the warehouse of a gallery after a police raid. “The statue of the goat has been returned to the museum,“ the daily said.

Jaam-e Jam further said that following the latest case of theft from Iran Bastan Museum, people from all walks of life contacted the newspaper and urged Tehran’s prosecutor to bring to justice all those found guilty.

Prosecutor of Tehran’s Criminal Court Fakhreddin Jafarzadeh said that a preliminary report indicated that the thefts from museums have other dimensions that require further investigations.




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