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36 arrested and 940 objects reclaimed as Iranian authorities apprehend antiquities smuggling ring

Iran has clamped down on illegal trade in antiquities, which has led to archaeological sites being promptly denuded post-discovery

Iranian police in the central Zargos mountain province of Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari have smashed an aggressively active antiquities smuggling ring, leading to the arrest of 36 people and the recovery of 940 artefacts. Among the confiscated objects are gold and silver coins, swords, figurines, vases, mirrors, and inscribed tablets from the pre-Islamic Seleucid, Samanid and Sassanid dynasties. Iran has had considerable trouble with antiquities smuggling and is enforcing heavy penalties for offenders. Recently two men convicted of smuggling artefacts from Jiroft were hanged. Numerous looted artefacts from the third millennium BC city, which lies 650 miles southeast of Tehran, have appeared on the international market since 2001, when a flooded river uncovered many antiquities and incited a frenzy of illegal digging. Younes Samadi, Iran’s cultural heritage spokesman estimated that 70% of artefacts looted from Jiroft ended up in Britain, and said that recent efforts had been made to liaise with British customs officials to curb this smuggling.

Originally appeared as 'More arrests as Iran attempts to curb illegal trade in antiquities'