Sunday 20 December 2020

Switzerland returns smuggled antiquities to Iran

             One of the bricks           

A total of 49 works of ancient art that had been looted and smuggled out of Iran some four decades ago have recently been returned home with the aid of Swiss officials (Tehran Times, 'Switzerland returns smuggled antiquities to Iran', December 20, 2020 ).
“A collection of glazed bricks, which are attributed to Qalaichi [archaeological site] in Bukan, dating back to the 7th or 8th centuries BC, have been returned home from Switzerland [...] 49 pieces of glazed bricks, which were smuggled out of Iran on the advent of the Islamic Revolution, were recuperated with a great deal of efforts made by the cultural heritage ministry, and the ministry of foreign affairs [...] the cultural heritage ministry was informed in [the Iranian year] 1391 that an Iranian family, residing in Switzerland, was inclined to sell 49 pieces of glazed bricks….
 One has to wonder how it is that a family can for forty years have at home material illegally exported from a foreign country during a period of civil unrest and just decide they will "surface" it on the market and flog it off, thinking nobody will notice. That nobody will notice the lack of documentation of licit origins. It is a shame that it was Switzerland that returned the items and not the (unnamed) family trying to monetise looted art.

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