The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia:
a new beginning for the Middle
9 August – 22 September 2013
In partnership with:
Iran Heritage Foundation
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Recommend this exhibition
The Cyrus Cylinder is often referred to as the first bill of human rights as it appears to encourage freedom of worship throughout the Persian Empire and to allow deported people to return to their homelands.
It was inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform (cuneiform is the earliest form of writing) on the orders of the Persian King Cyrus the Great (559–530 BC) after he captured Babylon in 539 BC.
It was rediscovered in Babylon in modern Iraq in 1879 during a British Museum excavation and has been on display ever since. The Cyrus Cylinder is truly an object of world heritage, produced for a Persian king in Iraq and seen and studied for over 130 years in the British Museum. It is valued by people all around the world as a symbol of tolerance and respect for different peoples and different faiths, so much so that a copy of the cylinder is on display in the United Nations building in New York.