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News > Iran

Achaemenid Tablets Returned to Iran from US

  • Part of Achaemenid-era clay tablets are on display at Iran's National Museum in Tehran, Iran, 02 October 2019

    Part of Achaemenid-era clay tablets are on display at Iran's National Museum in Tehran, Iran, 02 October 2019 | Photo: EFE

Published 2 October 2019

Almost two thousand pieces from the Achaemenid Empire are on display in Iran’s National Museum.

Almost two thousand clay tablets from the Achaemenid Empire, whose inscriptions reveal details of the Persian civilization that existed some 2,500 years ago, are now on display in the National Museum of Iran after eight decades in the United States.


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"These documents are one of the most important sources of information about the Achaemenid society, from workers to the king himself and his court," Yabrail Nokande, head of the National Museum of Iran, told EFE.

Iran's Minister of Cultural Heritage, Ali Asgar Munesan, said the tablets show "routes, financial exchanges and the registration of workers in the Achaemenid state", indicating that there was no slavery at the time, among other findings.

Some 17,000 tablets still remain in the United States, which can take years to ship to Iran because their protection "is very difficult," according to Christopher Woods, director of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.

Woods, present at the ceremony in which 110 of the pieces were exhibited, reported in a press conference that the packaging process is complicated and that only to pack the almost two thousand tablets recently recovered by Iran took about six months.

In the 1930s, shortly after their rediscovery, around 30 thousand tablets were handed over for study and analysis to the University of Chicago, which should have returned them to Iran within three years.

Some of the tablets returned to the country in the 1940s, a second shipment in the 1970s, and a third in the first decade of the 21st century.

The fourth delivery has just taken place, following a court order in Chicago that ruled out its use to pay compensation to victims of terrorism, but there are still thousands of these relics to be returned.

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