Thursday, August 19, 2004

London returns stolen stone artifact to Iran

London returns stolen stone artifact to Iran
Yazd, Aug. 18, IRNA -- An ancient stone artifact dating back to 12th century A.D. was returned to Iran from London where it was sold in an auction in 2003, said a cultural official in the central provincial city of Yazd on Wednesday.
The stone, believed to date back to the 6th century of the Iranian calander (533 A.H. or 1138 A.D.), formed part of a niche in a mosque in Abrand-Abad village, about 10 km from the central Iranian city of Yazd, said the director-general of provincial cultural heritage organization, Mohammad Beheshti.

It was stolen on February 2002, taken to Dubai, and then to London where it was auctioned for 100,000 pounds (dlr 290,000) by an antiques dealer.

Beheshti said the stone was found in London, which traced it to Iran and then arranged for its return to its source after completion of legal procedures.

The stone is reported to be an 81x65 centimeter gravestone with a number of Quranic verses carved on its margins and apex.

It has now returned to its place of origin in the city of Yazd, 667 km south of the capital Tehran, and will be put on display in the city's museum within the next two months, Beheshti said.

He said that in case security conditions in Yazd are found to be inadequate, the stone would again be transferred to Tehran and kept in a place safe enough to avoid another theft of the valuable item.

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