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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


Baqaei: Ultimatum Regarding Cyrus Cylinder Worries the British Museum


22 October 2009



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  Cyrus the Great Cylinder (Click to enlarge)


Hamid Baqaei, the Islamic Republic’s vice president in charge of (ICHTO)


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 Neil MacGregor, the Director of British Museum


LONDON, (CAIS) -- The director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor has sent a letter to Hamid Baqaei, the Islamic Republic’s vice president in charge of (ICHTO) announcing his readiness to send the Cyrus the Great Cylinder to Iran soon, reported the Persian Service of Aryan Heritage (Miras-e Aria), the official website of ICHTO on Thursday.


According to Baqaei, “the director of British Museum, Neil MacGregor sent a letter to Iran, apologising for the recent events as well as showing interest in transfering the Cyrus Cylinder to Tehran”


He continued: “the British Museum will send a delegate to the National Museum of Iran to discuss the transfer of the Cylinder”.


According to Baqaei the British Museum will send the Keeper of Western Asiatic Department who is Dr John Curtis to Iran to supervise the transfer and exhibition.


Hannah Boulton the Head of British Museum’s Press and Public Relations told CAIS: “... a letter was sent to the Vice President on the 12th October by the Director. It confirmed that a member of staff will travel to Iran to discuss the details and practicalities of the loan with the National Museum of Iran. It also reiterated that we very much hope to send the cylinder on loan.”


With regard to the MacGregor’s alleged apology, she added: “The letter did not include an apology, these kinds of discussions are part of any international loan arrangement.”


Baqaei in early October threatened that Iran will stop all mutual cooperation with the British Museum unless the ancient Iranian artefact is loaned to the National Museum of Iran. Later the Islamic republic took the threat further and warned of wider harm to archaeological, scientific and academic cooperation between London and Tehran if the British Museum did not allow the public display of the Cylinder.


Following that on October 12th, Iran set a two month deadline in an interview with the state-run Fars news agency.


"If within this period this pledge is not honoured then all agreements in archaeological research, trade fairs and so on with Britain might be harmed," said the Islamic Republic’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi.


Many Iranians who consider Cyrus the Great not only as the “Father of the Nation”, but as one of their greatest historical heroes, who united all Iranians and arguably created the first world empire and showed tolerance toward different cultures, faiths, races of his era. He is credited with authoring a decree inscribed on the cylinder named after him which many have described as the world’s first charter of human rights.


Many Iranians including archaeologists and historians believe this irreplaceable artefact should not be loaned to Iran while the Islamic Republic is in power, as its safety cannot be guaranteed.



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