International archeologists have asked US President Barack Obama to help return the Elamite tablets of Persepolis to their home in Iran.
Over 600 archeologists have signed a letter to President Obama asking him to stop the ancient artifacts, which have been loaned to the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, from being confiscated and sold.
“It has been reported by the Press and confirmed by authoritative scholarly sources that an important part of the Elamite clay tablets forming the archive of the Achaemenid center of Persepolis … face(s) the threat of confiscation and sale in order to compensate a legal case brought by private persons against the Government of Iran,” the Societas Iranologica Europaea petition reads.
The letter emphasizes the Iranian origin of the antiquities, asking the US president not to involve his country in the sale of the world’s cultural heritage.
“The antiquities belong to the cultural heritage of Iran on behalf of human kind and should therefore remain in public hands,” reads the letter.
The Persepolis tablets were loaned to Chicago University to be studied in 1937. Although the majority of tablets have been returned to Iran, the dispute broke out when an American Federal Judge ordered the tablets to be confiscated and auctioned in order to compensate the Israeli victims of the 1997 Jerusalem bombing.
The tablets, which were discovered by the archeology team of the University of Chicago in 1933, bear cuneiform inscriptions recording administrative details of the Persian Empire from about 500 BC.