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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


UPDATE: Confiscated Antiquities From the Argentine Diplomat in Tehran


05 October 2009



LONDON, (CAIS) -- The Tehran Custom Officials have permitted the media into storage-rooms where antiquities and artefacts allegedly were confiscated from the Argentine diplomat in June 2009.


The recovered antiques and artefacts weighed over 6 tonnes which were discovered amongst the possessions of Sebastian Zavala when he was leaving Iran after the end of his seven years service in Tehran.


The Argentine government has not yet issued any statement to reject the accusations made against one of its diplomats.


Previously, however the authorities in Tehran claimed the antiquities weight over 4 tonnes.  Also, it was claimed that the artworks were all Iranian, but the evidence suggests a different story.


Amongst the alleged recovered artworks a number of items are of non-Iranian origin, such as Indian, Buddhist, Chinese and Armenian manuscripts, Pharaonic Egypt, African and Buddhist figurines, Former USSR propaganda posters and early 1900 handguns and military medals.


In addition, apart from a number of objects which their trades are considered internationally illegal such as ivory tasks and leopard skins, a large number of them can be purchased in souvenir shops throughout Iran or the Internet, such as Pahlavi dynasty and post 1979 banknotes, coins, collectable stamps and mounted stuffed animals.


In short, apart from a number of artefacts which are illegal to leave the country (over 100 years old) such as the Parthian, Sasanian and Saljuq coins, earthenware, silver jewelries, ancient arms, manuscripts and golden and silver Qajarid Nargila, more than half of the alleged confiscated items are not of any historical importance or value.


If the accusations against the Argentine diplomat are proven to be correct, it seems his misconduct has equipped the Islamic Republic with an excuse to place the blame of the illegal trade of Iranian heritage on foreigners and creating the diversion from the real issues, which are the destruction of Iranian heritage under the current regime, and smuggling the antiquities by its leaders and their families.



Images courteously of the Persian service of ISNA

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