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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


ICHTHO Severed All Ties With The British Museum Over Cyrus The Great Cylinder


06 February 2010



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Cyrus the Great Cylinder


Hamid Baqaee


By Shapour Suren-Pahlav


LONDON, (CAIS) -- In a news conference Hamid Baqaee, the director of Iran Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organisation (ICHTO), announced that all cultural ties and cooperation with the British Museum (BM) is severed, reported the Persian service of ISNA on Saturday.


Baqaee defended his decision and accused the BM for involving politics by not loaning the Cyrus the Great Cylinder to the National Museum of Iran (NMI).


"The transfer and loaning of the Cyrus Cylinder to Iran for an exhibition has become a political rather than a cultural objective and since ICHTO is a cultural organisation all cultural ties and cooperation with the British Museum is being severed," according to Baqaee.


In addition to being the director of ICHTO, Baqaee, is also Islamic Republic's vice president and close friend to hardliner president Mahmood Ahmadinejad. Baqaee claimed that he has sent a letter to the British Museum explaining his decision.


"The deadline for loaning the artefact is tomorrow [February 7th]. Therefore according to our promises for not complying with our request for not sending the Cyrus Cylinder to Iran,  all the cultural ties is severed, including archaeological studies and cooperation in the field of exhibition and research," baqaee claimed.


He also claimed that he will sent a letter of complaint to UNESCO and will pursue a legal action against the BM to claim losses.


He made a threat to the BM that he will send correspondence to international museums throughout the world that they should reconsider their positions and ties with the BM. They also made accusations that the British Board of Directors is being controlled by the British Foreign Office.


In October 2009 Baqaee threatened to cease all cooperation between the National Museum in Tehran and the British Museum in London, if the Cyrus the Great Cylinder is not loaned to Iran. A month on a representative of the BM, Dr John Curtis, left London bound for Tehran in agreeing to display the cylinder in Iran for four months from January 16th.


In January 2010, the BM informed ICHTHO that they decided to postpone sending the artefact to Iran due to a recent discovery of two cuneiform tablets in BM’s collection of Babylonian art, which contained passages with remarkable similarities to those found on the Cylinder and promised that once there studies has been completed they would send the Cylinder.


With regard to the new date set by the BM, Baqaee in a threatening tone said: "There is no guarantee that the BM will send the Cylinder to Iran in four months time. I am sure that this museum [BM] especially their Western Asiatic Department will suffer immensely as the result of this cultural disconnection."


In Islamic Iran no separation of power exists, there is blurring of boundaries between the government and cultural institutions. The heads of cultural institutions in Iran, including ICHTHO, are not based upon their merits or expertise but rather their devotion to the Islamic regime. In judging other countries with their totalitarian standards, the Islamic Republic believe that the BM, which its independent and legally governed body must be politically motivated.


Nevertheless, an organisation such as BM with its long history and reputation should protect its assets as well as safeguard its international reputation of not cooperating with inhumane regimes such as Islamic Republic. Islamic Republic has recently stepped up its oppressive behaviours against the Iranian people, and has treated them with brutality such as: rape, torture, execution and murder.


It is questionable why a regime where Cyrus the Great has been ridiculed and insulted would be so eager to borrow his 'decree' - the 'decree' that goes against everything the Islamic Republic stands for.


The British Museum has every right, politically motivated or otherwise not to send the Cylinder to Tehran.




Some information for this report was extracted from: ISNA [*]




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