The US has returned an ancient Persian silver chalice, known as the Griffin, during President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to New York to attend the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Speaking to reporters at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport on Monday upon arriving from the visit, Rouhani said that the valuable relic, which dates back to 2,700 years ago, had been in the US since 2003. He added that all efforts to return it to the country had been unsuccessful.
“The Americans contacted us on Thursday [and said that] we have a gift [for you]. They brought this chalice to the [Iranian] mission with due ceremony and said this is our gift to the Iranian nation,” Rouhani said.He said that the historical artifact was very precious to the Iranian nation and added it should be safeguarded as it is “the symbol of the ancient civilization” of the country. Mohammad Ali Najafi, Iran’s vice president and head of the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO), unveiled the artifact in Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport after returning from the US visit. He said that the US State Department returned the artifact in a bid to improve cultural relations between Washington and Tehran. The griffin is a legendary creature with the body, tail and back legs of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle and an eagle's talons as its front feet. AR/HGH