The Cyrus Cylinder declared tolerance, justice, religious freedom, to a defeated Babylon; however, the artifact was unique by its category and life span. Confirmed by other contemporary sources, such as the Bible’s Book of Ezra, it becomes evident Cyrus allowed displaced Jews to return to Jerusalem.
“The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia” opens at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. On loan from the British Museum, the Cylinder will be on view at the Sackler through April 28, travelling afterwards to Houston, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is the most notable icon / artifact in world history.
This icon known as the first “bill of human rights,” shaped several civilizations, which traces its birthplace back to the Persian king, Cyrus the Great’s conquest of Babylon in the sixth century - before Christ.
“You could almost say that the Cyrus Cylinder is a history of the Middle East in one object, creating a link to a past that we all share and to a key moment in history that has shaped the world around us,” said, Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum. “Objects are uniquely able to speak across time and space, and this object must be shared as widely as possible.”
Cyrus the Great (580–530 B.C.), founder of the Persian Empire, which became the largest and most diverse kingdom in the world had known to that point. Subsequent generations of rulers considered it an ideal model of unified governance across multiple cultures, languages and vast distances.
In the fourth century B.C., a Greek historian, Xenophon, romanticizes Cyrus’ philosophies and Socrate’s sayings both greatly influenced Alexander the Great; much later, Thomas Jefferson, who studied 10 years in Europe, influenced by Cyrus’ philosophies for nation building in the Declaration of Independence.
“One of the goals of this exhibition is to encourage us to reflect that relations between Persians and Jews have not always been marked by the discord that disfigures the political map of the Near East today,” said Julian Raby, The Dame Jillian Sackler Director of Arthur M. Sackler Gallery & the Freer Gallery of Art.“
Curated by John Curtis, Keeper of Special Middle East Projects at the British Museum, the show will travel to Houston, New York, San Francisco and the Getty in Los Angeles through October.
The British Museum organized this exhibition through a partnership with the Iran Heritage Foundation, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, and several esteemed international foundations.