Iran seeking to return all Achaemenid tablets from US

The deputy head of the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization announced that the permission to return 1,780 tablets from the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute to Iran has been issued.

Mohammad Hassan Talebian said at a meeting that was held to commemorate the World Museum Day and the Cultural Heritage Week, 'with the help of other institutions, we are seeking permission to return all the tablets of the Achaemenid period'. 

Talebian added, 'The US Supreme Court ordered the return of the tablets, but the Treasury Department did not allow the return of all the tablets.' 

The official noted that Iran has objected to this decision and intends to reinstate all the tablets.

The 300 tablets, made of clay and impressed in cuneiform, record administrative details of the Persian heartland from about 500 B.C. 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 to be studied. A group of 179 complete tablets was returned in 1948, and another group of more than 37,000 tablet fragments was returned in 1951.

The tablets have been difficult to read because information about the Persian Empire had been largely limited to non-Persian sources. That non-Persian information came from Greek writers such as Herodotus and Latin authors, and mostly concerns encounters between the Persian Empire and Greek states, encounters of warfare, and diplomacy. Information from the tablets provided one of the first opportunities to gather data on the empire from Persian sources.

University of Chicago archaeologists discovered the tablets in 1933 while excavating in Persepolis, the capital of the Persian Empire and the site of a major Oriental Institute excavation. 

The institute has resumed work in collaboration with colleagues in Iran, and the return of the tablets is part of a broadening of contacts between scholars in the two countries, said Gil Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute.

News Code 190337

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