February 19, 2022
Iran has seized a cargo of antique goods and ancient artifacts smugglers planned to take out through Turkey.
Rouhollah Latifi, spokesperson for the Customs Administration office, said Friday that 570 items confiscated included old coins and books.
The shipment was found in a truck loaded with second-hand home furniture in transit to Canada at the Bazargan border crossing, West Azarbaijan province, the spokesman said. The coins were worth several billion rials, Latifi added.
Within the haul were 18 bronze pieces dating from the first millennium BC, antique daggers, seven glass chandeliers, 322 silver coins, a one-dollar coin minted in 1845, some Qajar-era (1795-1925) plates, and a handwritten gold-gilded Qur’an.
Under Iranian law, such artifacts are deemed part of “national heritage” and illegal to export unless expressly authorized by the relevant authorities. Smuggling antiques can lead to years of imprisonment and fine equal to twice the value of the smuggled items.
Iranian items legitimately for sale in western auction houses or by dealers – including carpets, manuscripts, painting, ceramics, and woodcrafts – can fetch from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands, or more. London’s Victoria and Albert Museum bought the 16th-century ‘Ardabil carpet’ in 1893 for £2,000.