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Sunday, 29 October, 2000, 19:49 GMT
Row over mystery mummy
Map showing Karachi and Quetta
A mystery over an ancient mummy which has turned up in Pakistan has sparked an international row with Iran.

The mummy, found by Pakistani police, is believed to be that of a prince or princess who lived more than 2,500 years ago.

Mummy at the centre of the row
The mummy is now on display in Karachi
The authorities in Teheran say it belongs to them, and should be returned, but some experts say it could have come from ancient Egypt.

In the meantime the remains have been placed in a Karachi museum, while Pakistani police continue their investigation into its illegal trail.

Two Pakistani men, including a tribal chief in whose home it was found, have been arrested following the discovery.

It is believed the mummy had been put up for sale with a reported price tag of more than $1m.

Iran's demand to have the mummy returned is based on a claim from the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organisation, which says the artefact is an ancient member of the Iranian royal family.

If this mummy does turn out to be an Iranian prince, we will take steps with Pakistan to get it returned

Iranian Cultural Heritage Organisation
The organisation says it will take legal action under a convention of the United Nations Cultural Organisation, Unesco, to get the mummy back.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has been asked to raise the matter with Pakistan.

The mummy was wrapped in a brownish wax cloth inside a wooden coffin decorated with a gold crown, a gold mask and a gold chest-plate.

Murder connection

Archaeologists say it is believed to 2,600 years old. Pakistani police are still investigating the murder of one of the dealers apparently involved in trying to sell it.

After the murder, the mummy was hastily sent to the northern town of Quetta to be hidden, but was discovered by police.

Experts say Pakistan is becoming increasingly popular for those seeking a market for illegal antiques.

For many years, dealers have smuggled out artefacts from Pakistan as well as neighbouring Afghanistan.

The price of such artefacts is said to have increased tremendously, and they are sometimes taken out of the country with the connivance of local authorities.

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Mayor's mummy found
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