Project 6060 – Lesson 46
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great was the founder of a kingdom in Iran and the instigator of the Achaemenid dynasty, more than 2500 years ago. He attacked many lands and seized most of them, thus forming the largest empire the world had ever known.
In that time, Cyrus entered the city of Babylon and, like many other cities, conquered it without war or bloodshed. Cyrus sat on the throne in Babylon, freed all the captives and allowed them to return to their homes and countries and even re-establish and worship their gods, idols, temples and statues.
In the year 1879, during archaeological excavations by a group of Britons in an ancient Babylonian enclosure in Mesopotamia, a clay object was found. At first, nobody knew the true worth of this cylindrical object and one might have thought it was like any other artefact or an earthenware object that archaeologists come across every once in a while during their excavations.
This cylinder was approximately as big as a rugby ball and was made of clay with cuneiform inscriptions that had been baked in the sun. After studying and researching it, it became clear that this cylinder had been created on the orders of Cyrus in the year 538 BC and events related to his victory over Babylon and his commands were written on it and it was placed in the temple of Marduk.
On this inscribed cylinder, Cyrus first introduces himself and his family and says that he is now king of all the world. He then describes his victory over Babylon.
He goes on to write that he has established peace for the people of Babylon and Sumer and the whole world and that he would respect the customs and religions of nations. He also speaks about the reconstruction of ruined houses and temples and the return of the Kingdom of Babylon’s captives to their own countries.
At the end, he announces that he does not permit anybody to oppress another, and that all are free to choose their religion, language, occupation and where to live.
Many people and organisations, including the United Nations and the British Museum believe that this document is the first expression of human rights and a source of pride for Iranians. In 1971, the United Nations published it in its six official languages and now a replica of this charter is held in the United Nations building in New York.
Even after more than 2500 years, this earthenware cylinder plays a key role in the Middle East and Iran. Today too, whether in times of war, like the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 until 1988, or in times of peace, and before and after the Islamic revolution, Cyrus’ charter has been a symbol of unity between the various peoples of Iran, of each religion and language.
Before Iran’s Islamic revolution, whilst celebrating 2500 years of kingship, Cyrus’ charter was brought to Iran for a few days for the first time and was displayed in one of the museums of Tehran.
For the second time, in September 2010, Cyrus’ charter of human rights was in Tehran to be displayed for a period of 6 months, and was displayed in the ancient Iran section of the Iranian National Museum. In this time, about one million people visited this earthenware object. This is one of the largest numbers of people visiting an object in a museum.
Cyrus and his empire provide a perfect example of a land and time when different nations, cultures, languages and religions could live together in peace; i.e. that which today, after thousands of years, people of the world still dream of.
Cyrus le Grand
Ciro el Grande
Translation of Dialogue
Maryam: Have you seen the Cyrus Cylinder?
Bahman: Yeah, in the British Museum
Maryam: I saw it when it was in the National Museum of Iran
Bahman: Well, all Iranians are really proud of it.
Maryam: Yeah, it’s the first bill of human rights.
Bahman: Think about it. 2500 years ago, Cyrus respected all religions and different people and freed them all.
Maryam: If only all the governments and countries of the world could learn from Cyrus.
Traduction de Dialogue
Traducción de Diálogo