Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi announced that 1,700 clay tablets of ancient ages, which were given to US for research purposes but were no returned to Iran in due time because of Washington’s obstructions, have finally been brought back home.
In a tweet on Monday evening, as many as 1,700 centuries-old clay tablets have been returned to Iran by the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute.
He added that the tablets were returned to Iran through the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Heritage, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Presidential Legal Department.
The centuries-old clay tablets and fragments were given to the Oriental Institute in 1937 for research purposes. They were supposed to be returned to Iran during the presidency of George W. Bush who later refused to hand them over to Iran after levelling false accusations.
Back in December, Head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) Ali Asghar Mounesan announced that the US will return 1784 clay tablets of Iran, adding that the permission has been issued by the US Treasury Department.
The permission to repatriate these clay tablets which belong to Persepolis has been issued by US Treasury Department, he said.
The cargo was slated to be delivered in Iran but with the excuse of sanctions and the issues regarding the insurance, US officials told that Iran should receive the cargo in the United States, he noted, adding, “after all, we expect to receive the objects in the Hague.”
Highlighting that some 11,000 Persian relics are estimated to exist in Chicago University, Mounesan added, “It is said that the remaining objects will be repatriated in a three-year period but we did not accept and are negotiating to get them sooner.”
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.
PUKmedia / Fars News