Saturday 28 September 2013

Ugly Rhyton Belatedly Given to Iran

A 2,700 year-old silver chalice may be a new token of friendship between the United States and Iran, at least that's the way Iran's cultural heritage chief sees it. Whatever the case, Mohammad-Ali Najafi was palpably delighted Friday to see the ancient Persian artifact return to its homeland. The ceremonial drinking vessel -- or rhyton -- had gotten snagged in a U.S. customs warehouse for years, held up by bad diplomatic relations. It had been in New York since 2003, when an art dealer smuggled it into the country from Iran. Customs officials have long wanted to return the rhyton to Iran, according to a New York Post report. But decades of frigid relations between Washington and Tehran kept it frozen in bureaucratic limbo.
That's what you get when the Americans condition their honouring the 1970 UNESCO Convention on whether they are friendly towards the Convention's other states parties today or not. I bet they are glad to get that off their hands, they've had this thing, supposedly from the Kalmakarra Cave, known as the Western Cave, in the western highlands of Iran (looted between 1989 and 1992)  since 2000. What an ugly ridiculous looking piece, which it has been convincingly argued may be a fake ('Is the Kalmakara ('Western Cave') Griffin a Fake?', Saturday, 12 June 2010). Readers of this blog will know the name discretely missed out of the report of the US "art dealer", who imported it for some reason saying it was from "Syria".

Tara Kangarlou and Ben Brumfield, '2,700-year-old Persian artifact a gift of U.S. diplomacy to Iran?' CNN, September 28, 2013

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