Monday, February 08, 2010

Row over Cyrus Cylinder takes a new twist

THE ROW OVER THE CYRUS CYLINDER has taken a new twist:
Iran cuts cultural links with British Museum over Cyrus Cylinder

Lucy Bannerman (London Times)

Iran has severed all cultural ties with the British Museum over the institution’s failure to hand over an ancient Persian treasure.

At the centre of the diplomatic row is a 2,500-year-old cuneiform tablet, known as the Cyrus Cylinder, which most historians regard as the world’s first declaration of human rights.

Curators had been due to lend the artefact to Tehran last month, but announced that the handover would be delayed after the discovery of new tablets that they believe could help its research. The delay has provoked the anger of Iranian officials, who announced an end to dialogue yesterday in protest at a decision that they believe is politically motivated.

Given the shaky prospects of the current Iranian regime, it may be just as well if the artifacts don't go there anytime soon. Background and related thoughts are here.