Objects, formerly smuggled into Switzerland, to be exhibited at home

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TEHRAN – A collection of once smuggled glazed bricks, which were returned to Iran from Switzerland, will be on display in the town of Bukan, believed to be their place of origin in western Iran.

In December, a total of 49 glass bricks attributed to the archaeological site of Qalaichi in West Azarbaijan province, which had been looted and smuggled out of Iran about four decades ago, were returned home with the help Swiss officials.

The exhibition will run for one month starting May 18. And the event aims to showcase the region’s history and culture to visitors, provincial tourism chief Jalil Jabari said on Tuesday.

Located about nine aerial kilometers northwest of Bukan, Qalaichi (or Ghalay-chi) is an ancient settlement that until now has produced a large number of glazed objects. Some are monochrome and others show complex compositions. The glazed objects of the regular excavations have been preserved in the Urmia Museum and the National Museum of Tehran.

The artifacts are linked to the Mannai civilization, which was once flourishing in northwestern Iran in the 1st millennium BC. Mannai, also spelled Manna, was an ancient country surrounded by three great powers of the time, namely Assyria, Urartu and the media.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Manaeans are first recorded in the annals of Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (reign 858-824 BC) and are last mentioned in Urartu by Rusa II (reign 685-645 BC ) and in Assyria by Esarhaddon (reigned 680–669 BC). With the intrusion of the Scythians and the rise of the Medes in the 7th century, the Manneans lost their identity and were subsumed under the term Medes.

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