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British Museum delays sending Cyrus Cylinder to Iran

The British Museum has delayed sending the Cyrus Cylinder back to Iran after discovering two cuneiform inscriptions elsewhere in the museum’s collection that may shed light on the cylinder’s missing passages.

After that, “it is intended that the two new pieces should be exhibited for the first time in Tehran, together with the Cylinder itself,” the museum said in an e-mailed release.

“The agreement has been made with our colleagues in Iran that we’ll postpone the loan to investigate this exciting discovery with them,” said Hannah Boulton, head of press and marketing at the British Museum. “That’s the reason for the postponement.”

The Cylinder, a 539-530 B.C. artifact dating back to the reign of Cyrus the Great, is inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform, and has been described as the world’s earliest charter of human rights. Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization said in October that it would sever all ties with the British Museum unless a promise to send the Cylinder to the National Museum of Iran was honored.

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