Tajikistan demands BM return ancient treasure -- but it's Persian

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Tajikistan's increasingly eccentric president yesterday demanded the surrender of the Oxus treasure, one of the British Museum's most celebrated collections, as he stepped up a controversial campaign to restore national pride.

Emomali Rakhmonov made the call after visiting the location where he believes the priceless Persian artifacts from the 5th to 4th century BC were found...

A museum spokesman said that trustees had received no formal request from the Tajik government to return the 170-odd artifacts -- including model chariots, armlets and a scabbard -- that make up the treasure.

Mr Rakhmonov's quest seems unlikely to succeed, not least because his case is generally regarded as flimsy. As the treasure is Persian, the Iranian government would have a stronger claim. Historians are not even certain whether the treasure was found in what constitutes present-day Tajikistan.

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