Senior Diplomat: Ancient Treasure Seized in UK to Return to Iran
TEHRAN (FNA)- Tehran’s top diplomat in London said that a smuggled Iranian bas-relief carving that was seized from smugglers in the UK in 2016 will be sent back home after it is put on display in the British Museum for three months.
Seyed Mahdi Hosseini Matin, who serves as Iran’s chargé d’affaires in Britain, stated on Sunday that the rock relief, known to archaeologists in Iran and around the world as the Sasanian Soldier, will be handed over to Iranian officials in London for repatriation to Tehran within the next months.
Hosseini Matin added that the antiquity had been seized by the British border police in January 2016 at Stansted airport near London, noting that Iran was forced to fight a legal battle in British courts to prove that it owns the relief.
“This relief had not been registered in Iran’s national museum and it is clear that it has been smuggled out of the country illegally,” he continued.
His comments came a day after a report was published by The Guardian about the Sasanian rock relief and how British Museum officials have been taking care of the antiquity.
The report said the Interpol and the UK National Crime Agency have been investigating the case but no one has been arrested in relation to the case.
Experts believe the carving may have come from Iran’s Fars province where a majority of Sasanian rock reliefs exist.
They suspect the piece may be part of a big sequence that has been cut from a cliff in an area near Fars provincial capital Shiraz.
The Sasanian dynasty was a powerful Iranian empire that ruled areas stretching from Syria to the Caucasus and Central Asia between early third century and mid-seventh century.