British Museum Has Two Months to Return Artifact to Iran, Or Else

British Museum, Cyrus Cylinder

TEHRAN -- A clay artifact dating from the 6th century BC is the center of a dispute between Iran and London's British Museum. The Cyrus Cylinder, currently in the British Museum's possession, is an object relating to the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus of Persia, who Iranians consider a great historical hero. Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization has given the British Museum a deadline of two months within which to return the cultural relic to Iran.

Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi explained, "There was an agreement between Iran and the London museum to the effect that the...cylinder would be lent to Iran for display." Qashqavi believes the controversy over Iran's spring election caused the museum to reconsider the arrangement.

A spokeswoman for the British Museum said they intend to send the item to Iran citing "a number of practicalities" as reason for the delay. But Iran is sticking to its two month deadline. "If within this period this pledge is not honored then all agreements in archaeological research, trade fairs and so on with Britain might be harmed," Qashqavi threatened.



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