Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
& CULTURAL NEWS OF IRANIAN WORLD©
University Promises to Defend Iranians' Right at Court
05 July 2006
(CAIS) -- On 27th June, an American federal judge
ruled the confiscation of the invaluable collection of Iranian artifacts lent to
Oriental Institute of Chicago University and put them on auction to compensate
terrorist victims in Israel. The decision shocked many people and roused
feelings of anger not only among the Iranians who are seeing their ancient
heritage at a real risk, but also among many other people worrying that by
placing these ancient relics on auction, they will be lost forever.
In a letter sent by Prof. Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute and the
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of
Chicago, to Esfandyar Rahim Mashayi, president of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and
Tourism Organization (ICHTO), he strongly condemned the recent ruling against
Iran and has promised to defense Iran’s right to the ownership of these
historical relics and returning them back to their homeland.
“Pointing out that these relics are being kept in trust at the Oriental
Institute of University of Chicago in his letter, Gil Stein has confirmed that
based on legal and cultural duties this university is responsible for redeeming
these artifacts and returning them back to their homeland safely. Gil Stein
expressed hope that the University of Chicago will be able to convince the
federal court to abrogate the previous judgment,” said Mohammad Reza Kargar,
director of Iran’s National Museum, to CHN.
Thousands of ancient clay tablets belonging to the Achaemenid Empire containing
information about the life and languages of the people during the Achaemenid era
(550-330 BCE) were discovered in Persepolis, Iran, in 1933 by archeologists of
the Oriental Institute of Chicago University and were lent to this institute due
to its request to carry out more studies on them. These clay tablets are 2500
years old, through which historians were able to find detailed information about
the lifestyle of the people who lived in Ancient Iran. 300 pieces of these
tablets were returned to Iran two years ago upon mutual agreement between
Iranian cultural heritage authorities and the Oriental Institute of Chicago
University. Ignoring Iran’s undisputed right over these invaluable artifacts,
an American federal judge ordered to confiscate Iran’s assets in the United
States, including its ancient artifacts in Chicago University, and put them on
auction to compensate Israeli families who lost members in a bomb explosion in
Ben Yehuda Mall on Sept. 4, 1997 on the grounds that Islamic Regime in Tehran is
sponsoring of terrorism!
“The issue of trust is an ethical matter in today’s world especially in
scientific and cultural aspects, which should not be violated at any price.
Whenever cultural artifacts of a country are transferred to another country to
be held in trust for any reason, ethically the host country will be in charge of
protecting them and returning them back to their homeland safely, even if 70
years have passed,” added Kargar.
In addition to the University of Chicago, Iranian government is also following
the case through legal channels. “ICHTO will hire some professional lawyers to
defend Iran’s right. The President Office and Iran’s Ministry of Foreign
Affairs are also following the case through Iran’s representatives at the
United Nations and UNESCO. We are also making negotiations with directors of
some well-known museums of the world such as Louver Museum, whose director is in
Iran these days,” added Kargar.
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