Iran cuts cultural links with British Museum over Cyrus Cylinder

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Iran has severed all cultural ties with the British Museum over the institution’s failure to hand over an ancient Persian treasure.

At the centre of the diplomatic row is a 2,500-year-old cuneiform tablet, known as the Cyrus Cylinder, which most historians regard as the world’s first declaration of human rights.

Curators had been due to lend the artefact to Tehran last month, but announced that the handover would be delayed after the discovery of new tablets that they believe could help its research. The delay has provoked the anger of Iranian officials, who announced an end to dialogue yesterday in protest at a decision that they believe is politically motivated.

Hamid Baghaei, head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organisation, said that the move to keep the cylinder was unacceptable. “The Cultural Heritage Organisation has cut all its relations and co-operation with the British Museum,” he said.

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