The United States has returned a 2,700 year-old Iranian artifact to the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage Department as a token of the budding friendship between the two countries.
The ancient silver chalice, which dates back to the Achaemenid era around 700 BC, is in the shape of a mythical beast with the body of a lion and the head of a bird of prey, believed to have powers of healing and guardianship. The form can also be seen in numerous ancient Iranian sculptures and buildings.
The chalice was delivered to Mahmmad Ali Najafi, the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage Department, who was part of President Hassan Rohani’s retinue as he travelled to New York to attend the UN General Assembly.
Najafi welcomed the return of the ancient artifact, saying: “I strongly believe in cultural diplomacy, and I believe the thing that could improve relations between the U.S. and Iran after so many years and soften the harshness of this relationship is cultural diplomacy.”