Friday, 6 March 2009

South Korean diplomat thief

by Kathryn Hadley

The Iranian news agency Tabnak reported on Tuesday that the Third Secretary of the South Korean Embassy of Iran had been caught smuggling an Iranian relic from the Achaemenid era out of the country. The relic, an inscribed stone from Persepolis was found, during check-in, by officials in Shiraz airport in the diplomat’s suitcase. The diplomat was, however, released due to diplomatic immunity and the stolen piece was sent back to the ruins of Persepolis.

Jaber Banshi, the Shiraz public and revolutionary prosecutor, told IRNA, the Islamic Republic News Agency:

‘Customs officials in Shiraz Airport found a two-kilogram inscribed Persepolis
stone in the luggage of the 3rd Secretary of the South Korean Embassy in Iran.
The relic has been delivered to the provincial cultural heritage office, but no
cultural official has filed a complaint so far’.

An article on the website of the Iranian international news network, Press TV, claimed that the Korean Embassy had refused to comment on the issue.

Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. The Achaemenid Empire was one of the first Persian empires and flourished from approximately 550 to 330 bc. Cyrus II the Great is considered the first ruler of the Achaemenid Empire. He ruled from approximately 559 bc to 529 bc, when the empire was at its height, spreading over approximately 7.5 million square kilometres and becoming the largest empire in the ancient world. The Achaemenid Empire spanned three continents and had over 20 nations under its control. It included territories of Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of Central Asia, Asia Minor, Thrace, coastal areas on the Black Sea, Iraq, northern Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, as well as significant population areas of ancient Egypt, as far west as Libya.

The Achaemenid Empire fell during the Wars of Alexander the Great during the rule of the last Persian King Darius III; Persepolis surrendered in 330 bc. It was succeeded by the Seleucid Empire, ruled by the generals of Alexander the Great and their descendants.

For further information on Alexander the Great, his character and his conquests, read our article Alexander the Great: Hunting for a New Past?

(The above picture is an engraving of Darius I, one of the rulers of the Achaemenid Empire)

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