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Iran, UK Museums to Expand Cooperation

Cyrus Cylinder

Tehran, April 17, 2011 – The British Museum says it is ready to loan items from ancient Persia and other civilizations to be exhibited at the National Museum of Iran.

“It will be very interesting to cooperate with Iran+s National Museum in mounting exhibitions of objects from those civilizations which existed at the same time with the Achaemenid Empire,” IRNA quoted British Museum director Neil MacGregor as saying during the closing ceremony of Cyrus Cylinder exhibition in Tehran on Saturday.

He also said that the exhibition can be a good start for further cooperation between the two museums.

“The Cyrus Cylinder is a historical document which is particularly important for the people of Iran and promotes tolerance and respect to all people and religions which were part of the principles practiced in the Achaemenid Empire,” MacGregor said.

Head of the British Museum also referred to the exhibitions Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia and Shah Abbas: The Remaking of Iran which were held in London, saying that generous loans by Iran+s National Museum made it possible to exhibit important parts of Iranian history for the British audience.

MacGregor said he was very happy to see that the exhibition was warmly received in Iran, especially by students and ordinary people.

On loan from the British Museum, the Cyrus Cylinder was sent to Iran for a four-month exhibition, which was supposed to end on January 10, 2011, but it was extended for another three months due to its very wide appeal.

The cylinder was escorted by a delegation headed by John Curtis, curator of the British Museum+s Ancient Near East Department, to the exhibition site where it was displayed for the first time in the past 40 years.

The 2,500-year-old Cyrus Cylinder was to be temporarily handed over to Iran in September 2009. The British Museum, however, backed out of the agreement, citing Iran+s post-election unrest.

Tehran had earlier said that it would cease cooperation with the British Museum until the cylinder is loaned to the National Museum of Iran.

Considered the world+s first charter of human rights, the clay cylinder is inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform with an account by Cyrus II, King of Persia (559-530 BCE).

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