September 10, 2010 / 3:23 PM / 9 years ago

Britain loans artefact to Iran after dispute

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has received an ancient Persian treasure from the British Museum after a months-long dispute over its loan to the Islamic Republic, state media reported on Friday.

Iran cut ties with the British Museum in February over its failure to lend the so-called Cyrus Cylinder, linked to the Persian ruler’s 6th century BC conquest of Babylon.

Iran had sought $300,000 (£195,016) in compensation from the British Museum in April over delays in lending the artefact for an exhibition.

Iran is already at odds with Britain and other Western countries over its nuclear energy programme, which the West suspects is a cover for nuclear weapons. Tehran denies this.

“The Cyrus Cylinder, was (temporarily) returned to its homeland on Friday for the first time after many years,” the official Irna news agency reported, adding the artefact would remain in the country for four months.

Iran had set a two-month deadline late last year for the loan of the artefact and subsequently demanded compensation. The British Museum said plans to hand over the 2,500-year-old clay cylinder had been delayed due to unspecified “practicalities.”

Irna’s report said a delegation from the British Museum had accompanied the artefact and that it was transferred to Iran’s National Museum.

Cyrus is regarded as one of ancient Persia’s greatest historical figures, creating one of the world’s first empires two centuries before Alexander conquered the region.

He captured Babylon, in today’s Iraq, in 539 B.C. and freed Jews held in captivity there. He is also credited as the author of a decree inscribed on the cylinder, which some have described as the first charter of human rights.

Editing by Charles Dick

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