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Sunday, 19 February 2012 05:35

US enmity with Iran's culture and history

Recently a piece of news was released which was a big shock to the lovers of culture and history.

The news read: a commission of the US Senate is reviewing a bill indicating that all Iranian relics and works kept in the US museums and universities could be sold to the highest bidder. The bill is in line with the new sanctions that the US is scheming against the Islamic Republic of Iran. According to the bill, the revenues of the ancient Iranian relics are to be paid for campaign against Iran. Senator Robert Menendez has presented the bill and it is scheduled to be sent to the US Senate.

How can the cultural heritage, kept as trusts, be sold while no one protests about it? Do the representatives of the regime, who claim to be the defenders of culture and free-thinking, have become so hostile against the culture and history of the Iranian nation that they want to approve such a bill? There is no doubt that such a non-conventional move and such a grave cultural theft will arouse the protest of elites and freedom-seekers throughout the world.

Now the question is: to what extent the US effort for selling Iran's historical works can be operational? Regarding the laws like article 27 of Vienna Convention no country can ignore the rights of other countries and sell the relics of other countries through resorting to its internal laws. Therefore it is evident that not only the Iranian stolen relics but works like the Achaemenid tablets which are kept as trust in the US Chicago University can never be sold by the White House officials. These works belong to the Iranian nation and the US government is duty bound to return them to Iran and if they are presented in auctions, the Interpol should confiscate them to the interest of Iran and return them to Tehran. Of course the international organizations and especially UNESCO are expected to act duly and counter such cultural thefts.

Now we are going to introduce a book which reveals some of the thefts carried out by the so-called American cultural elites. The book is titled America and Looting Iran's Ancient Relics written by Mohammad Qoli Majd.

The main theme of the book is the history of Iran's archeology and the story of its emergence during the era of Reza Khan Pahlavi. The story of opening the gates of Iran's cultural heritage to the foreigners and especially the Americans is a voluminous file which continued till the victory of the Islamic revolution in 1979 and was somehow accompanied with distortion and deliberate devastation of Iran's history and historical works. The book contains documents of the US state department on looting Iran's historical and cultural works.

Dr. Majd published his book in the US in 2003 and these documents belong to 1935-1941 and they are part of the US government's declassified documents.

Pointing to this cultural pillage the writer notes that according to the governmental documents, persons like Arthur Pope were involved in stealing antiques from the Imamzadehs, i.e. the shrines of the descendents of the holy Prophet and their sale to US museums. A number of these works were taken to London in 1931 to be displayed in Iran's art exhibitions but they never returned to Iran. The US documents show that Mohammad Ali Foroughi the then prime minister of Iran and his son were the representatives of those looters in Iran and they were engaged in trafficking ancient works. It is regrettable that in addition to taking Iran's Cultural Heritage, these people tried not to pay customs rights and unfortunately the cabinet of the Shah ordered the exit of them without customs rights.

The book America and Looting Iran's Ancient Relics includes 9 chapters showing how the foreign archaeological delegations arrived in Iran and what activities they were involved in. Part of the book reads: two groups of museums were permitted to search in different regions of Iran. The first group consisted of the official museums and the second group was the university museums. They would set agreements for a 5-10 year excavation and would seize the archaeological sites with little amount of money. But what they took to their countries was very precious and amazing.

The manager of Oriental Research Institute of Chicago University James Henry Breasted has described Persepolis discoveries as the greatest discoveries of the time.

Based on the searching agreement in this ancient region, the discovered relics should have been divided equally between the two countries. The agreement caused a difference and finally due to Reza Shah's weakness, Iran was the loser. A huge part of the discovered relics in Persepolis which belonged to the prehistoric millennia were taken out of the country and the US state department celebrated its victory in this plunder.

In the next chapters of the book the writer refers to some suspicious oreintalists and Iranologists who traveled to Iran under the pretext of conducting research on literary and art works and paved the way for taking the antique works out of the country. Also the dispatch of the influential and skilled US diplomats to Iran was among other plots for looting Iran's cultural and historical assets.

These American looters based on personal reports named Merriam embarked on excavations during the 1930s under the disguise of 6 archeological delegations and they had mainly focused on Persepolis.

They declared the end of the operation in 1939. For instance the text of a document after this discovery reads:

"Hundreds of precious ancient works and inscriptions from the era of Xerxes have been discovered and there is a bronze inscription in Babylonian language and calligraphy which is rusted. Iran's foreign ministry permitted the inscription to be taken to the US for removing its rust provided that Mr. Schmidt pay one hundred thousand Rials as a guarantee to bring it back to Iran, but Schmidt did not accept the conditions."

Thus many precious antiques were taken out of Iran found their way in the museums of the world especially the US.

The final page of this looting is very sad. On August 25, 1941, the British and Russian forces attacked and occupied Iran.

Reza Khan resigned and was sent to exile. Iran's ancient relics were loaded in a cargo of 8 boxes and left Tehran for the US. The manager of Oriental Institute of Chicago University in a letter in March 1940 appreciated the unsparing efforts of the state department in sending these works.

This book ends by referring its statements and documents to the US state department. Now these valuable historical works and the IDs of Iranian culture and civilization are at the disposal of spiteful persons in the US who have pushed forward in enmity towards the Iranian people to the extent of putting them on sale.

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