A twice-stolen ancient Persian artifact in Tehran's national museum after a New York court ordered it returned to Iran. (AFP/Atta Kenare)
A twice-stolen ancient Persian artifact is in Tehran's national museum after a New York court ordered it returned to Iran.
"It now belongs to the people who made it in the first place, and who are now going to preserve it, and is part of their identity," Firouzeh Sepidnameh, director of the ancient history section of the National Museum told AFP on Tuesday.
The limestone relief was handed over to Iran's representative at the United Nations last month and was personally brought back to Iran by President Hassan Rouhani, returning from the UN General Assembly.
The bas-relief, approximately 25 centuries old, depicts the head of a soldier from a line of Immortal Guards.
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It was discovered in an archaeological dig in the early 1930s at Persepolis, capital of the Achaemenid Empire near today's central Iranian city of Shiraz.
The artifact was stolen four years after it was found, and ultimately ended up at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts where it was again stolen in 2011.
It was seized by the Manhattan district attorney's office in 2017 when it resurfaced and was put on sale at an art fair.
"The international community has evolved enough to realize every artifact must return to its point of origin," said Sepidnameh.