Fars News Agency
Tue Sep 10, 2013 5:13
TEHRAN (FNA)- Vice-president and head of the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) Mohammad Ali Najafi vowed to follow up the case with returning Iran’s ancient tablets during his upcoming visit to New York.“One of my programs during the visit to New York will be meeting with Chancellor of Chicago University to discuss the return of about 30,000 Achaemenid tablets which are now in New York to Iran …,” Najafi said, saying that his name has been included in the list of the delegation which will be accompanying Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in his upcoming visit to New York.President Rouhani will participate in the 68th annual meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York due to open on 17 September, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced earlier.In August, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited Iranian President Rouhani to participate in the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly in September.The tablets were discovered by the University of Chicago archaeologists in 1933 while they were excavating in Persepolis, the site of a major Oriental Institute excavation.The artifacts bear cuneiform script explaining administrative details of the Achaemenid Empire from about 500 BC. They are among a group of tens of thousands of tablets and tablet fragments that were loaned to the university's Oriental Institute in 1937 for study. A group of 179 complete tablets was returned in 1948, and another group of more than 37,000 tablet fragments was returned in 1951.In spring 2006, US District Court Judge Blanche Manning ruled that a group of people injured by a 1997 bombing in Israel could seize the 300 clay tablets loaned to the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute and the university cannot protect Iran's ownership rights to the artifacts.Following Iranian officials' protests against the ruling, the court was slated to reexamine the case on December 21, 2006, but the court session was postponed to January 19, 2007, allegedly due to the fact that Iran had not provided all the documents required by the court.
The court session was held on the above-mentioned date, but no verdict was issued.
Museum of London has voiced its support for the return of the collection of clay tablets to Iran as the owner of the artifacts.The Oriental Institute holds 8000 to 10,000 intact and about 11,000 fragmented tablets, as estimated by Gil Stein, the director of the university's Oriental Institute.Based on a bill approved by the Iranian parliament in 1930, foreign research institutes were allowed to conduct excavations at Iranian ancient sites exclusively or during joint projects with the Iranian government.Foreigners were also given permission to share the artifacts discovered during the excavation projects with Iranian team members and to transfer their share to their country.
By the act, many Iranian artifacts were looted by foreign institutes working on Iranian ancient sites until the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
See also the chronicle of news on Persepolis