Bloomberg: Britain has agreed to loan the 2,500-year-old Cyrus Cylinder to Iran for three months, Iran’s state television reported today. By Ali Sheikholeslami
Nov. 11 (Bloomberg) — Britain has agreed to loan the 2,500-year-old Cyrus Cylinder to Iran for three months, Iran’s state television reported today. The British Museum wouldn’t confirm the report.
“We can confirm that representatives from the British Museum are in Tehran at the moment, but until we have spoken to them we can’t confirm anything further,” Esme Wilson, a press assistant for the museum, wrote in an e-mail today.
Iran has accused the museum of slowness on a promise to loan the 539-530 B.C. cylinder, dating back to the reign of Cyrus the Great. It is inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform and is described as the world’s earliest charter of human rights.
Hamid Baqaei, vice president in charge of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, and a museum representative agreed the loan for three months starting in January, Iranian TV said.
Baqaei told the channel that he hopes the museum will agree to a one-month extension of the loan period. The priority is to return the artifact safely to its home after it is exhibited in Iran, he said.
Iran last month said it would sever all ties with the British Museum unless a promise to send the Cylinder to the National Museum of Iran was honored.
The British Museum said in October it was monitoring the Iranian political situation to make sure the loan was made in the best possible conditions.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected in June 12 elections. Ahmadinejad has denied allegations that the poll was rigged. Iranians have taken to the streets in the tens of thousands to protest the outcome.
The British Museum promised to loan the Cylinder after its 2005-6 exhibition, “Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia,” British Museum Head of Press Hannah Boulton said in October. It was made clear at the time that the Cylinder would not be loaned until after the “Babylon: Myth and Reality” exhibition, which ended March 15. The British Museum also wanted the Cylinder shown temporarily in its new Iranian gallery.
— With assistance from Farah Nayeri in London. Editors: Mark Beech, Richard Vines.