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Tuesday, 28 November, 2000, 22:28 GMT
Taleban join mummy row
Zoroastrian god carving
A Zoroastrian god carved on the mummy's sarcophagus
The Afghan Taleban have entered a row between Iran and Pakistan over which country has legitimate claim to a 2,500 year-old mummy recently discovered in western Pakistan.

The Taleban's culture minister, Qudratullah Jamal, said smugglers had taken the mummy from Afghanistan's south-western Nimroz province to Pakistan, and that it should now be returned.

Mummy's head
Adorned with a gold crown and breast plate
Iran's state television showed pictures of the mummy, saying officials identified it as the remains of an Achaemenian prince.

The sarcophagus bears carvings and images of Ahura-Mazda, the god of Zoroastrianism, the ancient state religion of Persia.

Identity crisis

Iran is still waiting for the Pakistani authorities to allow a team of experts to identify the disputed mummy, Iran's state news agency IRNA said.


It is still a mystery whether it is Egyptian or Iranian

Archaeologist Ahmed Hasan Dani
According to reports from Pakistan, the mummy, complete with breastplate and golden crown, is ancient Egyptian in style but the engravings on the breastplate are in ancient Persian.

One archaeologist who examined it, Ahmed Hasan Dani of Islamabad's Quaid-e-Azam University, told news agencies "it is still a mystery whether it is Egyptian or Iranian".

Mummy on display
Claimed by three states

It has been kept in southern Karachi since police retrieved it from a tribal leader in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, who was trying to sell it for millions of dollars.

Pakistan says the mummy had been found in Pakistan and should therefore stay at the national museum in Karachi.

Antique roadshow

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 the local authorities.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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29 Oct 00 | South Asia
Row over mystery mummy
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