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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


Islamic Republic Threatens Britain Once Again Over Cyrus The Great Cylinder


16 January 2010



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LONDON, (CAIS) -- The director of the government-controlled ICHTHO (Iran Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization), who is also the Islamic Republic’s vice president, said on Thursday that Iran would cut all cultural ties with Britain if they cannot come to an agreement with the British Museum over the loaning of Cyrus the Great Cylinder.


“We are currently talking to them [the British Museum] about the issue and if the discussions produce the outcome that Britain doesn’t want to fulfil the previous agreement, undoubtedly, we will cut cultural ties with Britain due to our previous ultimatum,” Hamid Baqaii told the Persian service of IRNA.


The world famous cylinder was to be put on display in an exhibition at the National Museum of Iran on January 16, but officials at the British Museum (BM) said last week that they would delay sending the artefact.


The row over the Cylinder began in early October 2009, when ICHTHO threatened BM to sever all cultural ties with Britain if it delayed lending the 2,500-year-old cylinder. BM finally agreed to lend the artefact, sending a BM official with the artefact to Iran to supervise the transfer and exhibition.

The decision to postpone sending the artefact to Iran was made due to a recent discovery of two cuneiform tablets in BM’s collection of Babylonian art, which contain passages with remarkable similarities to those found on the Cylinder. But the Islamic Republic claims political reasons for the delay as it has taken place in the wake of recent uprising in Iran.[i]


“At present, the cultural and academic centres of Britain and CHTHO are collaborating, but on this matter, they need to cooperate with us,” Baqaii noted.


The Cyrus the Great Cylinder is considered to be the world’s first declaration of human rights. The ancient document issued by the founder of the second Iranian dynastic Empire, the Achaemenids, in the form of a clay cylinder inscribed in Akkadian cuneiform. Cyrus the Great is considered to be the 'Father of the Iranian Nation', as he united Iranians in the 6th Century BCE and brought them under one political umbrella to form the world’s first Superpower.


CAIS and many Iranians and cultural enthusiasts internationally welcomed the British museum’s decision for halting the loaning of the artefact to the Islamic Republic, as its safety cannot be guaranteed.


Request for loan by the Islamic republic has raised suspicions, as to why a regime that is against anything pre-Islamic Iranian heritage and particularly have shown abhorrence towards Cyrus the Great, calling him a Jew-lover, tyrant and a homosexual wishes to borrow this priceless artefact.

[i] Iran held its presidential election on June 2009, and current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner with majority. The margin was immediately disputed by many Iranians and international observers who believe the election was rigged. With a strong belief that the outcome was manipulated and fraud was rampant, hundreds of thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to protest the election results. The Islamic Republic’s response to the democratic uprising has been most brutal. The regime’s security, militias (Basij) and foreign mercenaries, have unleashed violence against protestors, including: killing, torture, rape and impressments. Also, with the assistance of Nokia-Siemens, jamming the use of cell phones and the Internet to stymie the demonstrations has begun. Since then the initial call for a recount in votes and reforms has led to a shift to a full scale uprising –demanding regime change and an end to the Islamic Republic’s reign of terror, corruption and oppression.






Original news bulletin published by Mehr News rectified and edited by CAIS [*]




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