Artifact returns to British Museum after Iran loan

This undated photo released by The British Museum Monday Feb. 8, 2010 shows the Cyrus Cylinder, a 6th century B.C. clay tablet which is thought to be the world's earliest bill of rights. -AP Photo

LONDON: A 2,500-year-old Babylonian artifact, sometimes described as the world's first human rights charter, is returning to the British Museum after a seven-month loan to Iran.

Hundreds of thousands of people viewed the Cyrus Cylinder while it was at Iran's National Museum.

The British Museum said Monday it was now preparing to put it back on display in London.

The cylinder caused a spat between the two nations when Iran's government threatened to cut ties with the British Museum if it did not lend the object. A four-month loan was eventually agreed, and extended because the exhibition was so popular.

The clay cylinder carries an account of how the Persian king Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 B.C. and restored many of the people held captive by the Babylonians to their homelands.

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