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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


Argentine Diplomat Stopped Smuggling Thousands of Iranian Antique Objects and Ancient Artefacts Out of Iran


02 October 2009



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LONDON, (CAIS) -- It is claimed that Iran's Customs officers foiled the plot of an Argentine diplomat who sought to smuggle thousands of Iranian antique objects and ancient artefacts out of Iran, reported the Persian service of ISNA.


According to the report, "The custom officers suspected the high volume of the cargo the diplomat intended to take out of the country and discovered the artefacts after an inspection of the boxes.”


"Sebastian Zavala, former counsellor of the Argentine embassy in Tehran, had left Iran in June at the end of his seven-and-half year mission," foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said.

The artefacts included thousands of ancient gold and silver coins, particularly of Parthian, Sasanian and Saljuq dynastic periods, age-old religious and historical manuscripts, a priceless collection of pre-Islamic weaponry, military insignias, antique guns, pre-Islamic as well as post-Sasanian pottery, tile and metalwork.

Packed in 318 cardboard boxes, the antique items reportedly weighed around 4,000 kg (8,818 lb).

"Security officials discovered the antique items after conducting a thorough inspection of the diplomat's cargo," according to PressTV.


Argentine government has yet to issue a statement regarding Iran's allegation.

This is not the first time that a foreign diplomat tries to smuggle Iranian antiquities out of the country.

Earlier in March, the third secretary of the South Korean Embassy in Tehran was caught smuggling a priceless relic dating to the Achaemenid dynastic era out of Iran.

Customs officials in Shiraz Airport seized the remnant after they found it in the South Korean diplomat's luggage during check-in. The envoy was later released due to his diplomatic immunity.

"Customs officials in Shiraz Airport found an Achaemenid relief depicting the top section of head of an Achaemenid soldier, weigh 2kg (4.4 lb) from Persepolis in the luggage of the 3rd secretary of the South Korean Embassy in Iran," IRNA quoted Shiraz public and revolutionary prosecutor, Jaber Banshi, as saying.

"The relic has been delivered to the provincial cultural heritage office, but no cultural official has filed a complaint so far," he added.


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