Iranian antiquities in France

Since the end of the 19thcentury, French archaeological excavations in Iran had been governed by international conventions. The first one, signed in 1884, authorised the Dieulafoy family to excavate Susa, which led to the opening of the first Persian rooms in the Musée du Louvre.

In 1895, France signed a second convention granting it a monopoly on archaeological excavations in Iran. But it was not until 1900 that Mozaffaredin Shah also granted it a monopoly on finds. Morgan took this opportunity to send all the antiquities to France, including those discovered before the signing of the 1900 convention, despite the fact that its terms did not apply retroactively.

Chaotic shipment

The finds were duly shipped off to the Louvre. At the time, the museum was used as a hub to distribute artefacts to various French institutions, depending on the nature of the materials.

Transporting 230 crates of artefacts from Susa had its challenges, however. Morgan sorted the crates by weight. Those weighing less than 80 kg were transported in a caravan of more than one hundred camels to the Iranian port town of Khorramshahr.

The remaining 25 crates weighing more than 80 kg were transported by cart. Along the way, the cart collapsed, a wagon was hurriedly pieced together using crate wood, and the convoy eventually joined the other crates in Khorramshahr. From there, they were shipped by boat to Muscat, and then from Muscat to Marseille, and finally to the Louvre.