The Cyrus Cylinder is an ancient artefact that has captivated the imagination of scholars and laypeople alike for over a century. This baked clay cylinder, which measures about 22.5 centimetres (8.9 inches) in length and has a diameter of about 10 centimetres (3.9 inches), is inscribed with cuneiform writing in the Akkadian language. It was created in the 6th century BC during the reign of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire.
Title: The Cyrus cylinder, a contemporary cuneiform script proclaiming Cyrus as legitimate king of Babylon
Attribution: Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net). Modifications by مانفی, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cyrus_Cylinder.jpg
The Cylinder is broken into several pieces, on which there is an Achaemenid royal inscription in Akkadian cuneiform script in the name of Persian king Cyrus the Great. It was discovered in 1879 in the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon in modern-day Iraq by a naturalised British archaeologist named Hormuzd Rassam, who also discovered the clay tablets that contained the Epic of Gilgamesh, the world’s oldest notable literature. The Cyrus Cylinder was shipped to the British Museum in London, where it has been displayed ever since. The Cylinder has since become a symbol of cultural exchange and understanding between the East and West and is widely regarded as one of the most important documents from the ancient world. The British Museum’s description of it is as follows:
“The Cyrus cylinder: clay cylinder; a Babylonian account of the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus in 539 BC, of his restoration to various temples of statues removed by Nabonidus, the previous king of Babylon, and of his own work at Babylon. The cylindrical form is typical of royal inscriptions of the Late Babylonian period, and the text shows that the cylinder was written to be buried in the foundations of the city wall of Babylon. It was deposited there after the capture of the city by Cyrus in 539 BC, and presumably written on his orders.” 
This paper will provide an overview of the historical context of the Cyrus Cylinder, describe the Cylinder itself and its message of tolerance, and explore its cultural and political significance in different contexts. It will also discuss some of the scholarly interpretations and controversies surrounding the Cylinder and its impact on the development of human rights and political thought. Ultimately, this paper acknowledges that the Cyrus Cylinder is a powerful symbol of hope and compassion that continues to inspire people around the world to work for a better future.
Title: The Cyrus Cylinder in Room 52 of the British Museum in London
Attribution: Kaaveh Ahangar
Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:London_307.JPG
The Achaemenid Empire was founded by Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BC. He is remembered both as:
- A skilled military leader who conquered a vast territory that included parts of modern-day Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Central Asia, and
- For his policies of tolerance and respect for the traditions of the people he conquered, as well as his commitment to religious and cultural diversity.
The conquest of Babylon was a significant event in the history of the Achaemenid Empire, as it gave Cyrus control over one of the most important cities in the region. Babylon was a centre of learning, religion, and culture, and its conquest allowed Cyrus to demonstrate his military prowess and establish his rule over a diverse population. The region was home to many cultures and religions at the time. Babylon was known for its polytheistic religion, which featured a pantheon of gods and goddesses. Other cultures in the region practised monotheistic religions – such as Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity. Cyrus was known for his policy of religious tolerance, which allowed people of different faiths to worship as they pleased.
The Cyrus Cylinder, discovered in 1879 in modern-day Iran, is considered one of the most important finds from the ancient world. The writing on the cylinder describes the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, and his subsequent policies of religious and cultural tolerance towards the Babylonians. The writing on the Cylinder is in the Akkadian language and describes Cyrus’ conquest of Babylon and his subsequent policies towards the Babylonian people. It emphasises Cyrus’ respect for religious and cultural diversity and his commitment to the welfare of his subjects.
Title: The fall of Babylon; Cyrus the Great defeating the Chaldean army. Mezzotint by J. Martin, 1831, after himself, 1819. Iconographic Collections Keywords: John Martin; Cyrus.
Attribution: See page for author, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_fall_of_Babylon;_Cyrus_the_Great_defeating_the_Chaldean_Wellcome_V0034440.jpg
The cylinder has been the subject of much scholarly research and debate and has been studied by historians, archaeologists, and linguists worldwide.
In terms of its value, the Cyrus Cylinder is considered priceless, as it is a unique and irreplaceable artefact from the ancient world. Its historical significance and cultural importance have made it a symbol of cultural exchange and understanding between the East and West, and it continues to be studied and admired by scholars and visitors alike.
Cyrus commissioned the Cylinder as part of his effort to establish his legitimacy as a ruler and to communicate his policies to the people he had conquered. The Cylinder was a common format for royal inscriptions in the late Babylonian period, and its cylindrical shape made it suitable for burying in the foundations of buildings and city walls.
The Cylinder emphasises Cyrus’ commitment to restoring Babylon’s temples and religious institutions, which previous conquerors had destroyed. It also outlines his policies of treating conquered peoples with compassion and fairness and Cyrus’ belief that good governance involves protecting the rights and welfare of all citizens.
Hormuzd Rassam’s Dispute(s) with the British Museum
Hormuzd Rassam was the archaeologist who discovered the Cyrus Cylinder in 1879 during excavations at Babylon, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire. At the time, Rassam was working on behalf of the British Museum, which had funded the excavations. The dispute between Rassam and the British Museum arose over the ownership rights of the Cyrus Cylinder.
Rassam believed that the Cylinder should belong to the Ottoman government, which had granted him permission to excavate at Babylon. However, the British Museum claimed that the Cylinder was the property of the Museum, as it had funded Rassam’s excavations.
In the end, the British Museum won the dispute, and the Cyrus Cylinder became part of the Museum’s collection. However, the episode strained relations between Rassam and the Museum, and Rassam resigned from his post as the Museum’s archaeological expert in the Middle East in 1882.
The Cyrus Cylinder is significant because:
- It provides valuable historical information about the Achaemenid Empire and the reign of Cyrus the Great.
- It is regarded as one of the earliest examples of a human rights declaration, as it outlines Cyrus’ policies of tolerance and respect for the traditions of the people he conquered.
The Cyrus Cylinder is influential in developing religious and political thought in the Middle East. It has become a symbol of cultural exchange and understanding between the East and West. It has been exhibited in countries worldwide, including Iran, the United States, and Japan, and has been the subject of numerous academic conferences and publications.
Title: Ancient Near East circa 540 BC, prior to the invasion of Babylon by Cyrus the Great.
Attribution: ChrisO, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ancient_near_east_540_bc.svg
Recognising its cultural and historical significance, the Cyrus Cylinder was designated a UNESCO Memory of the World document in 2010. This designation recognises the cylinder as a document of global importance and encourages its preservation and dissemination for future generations.
The cylinder has been compared to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948. Both documents emphasise the importance of religious and cultural tolerance and the need to respect the rights and traditions of minority groups.
The Cyrus Cylinder has also had a significant impact on contemporary politics in Iran, where Cyrus is regarded as a national hero.
In 1971, the Shah of Iran celebrated the 2,500th anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great, using the cylinder as a symbol of the country’s ancient heritage and modern aspirations. But, eight years later, after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the new Iranian government rejected the Shah’s celebration of Cyrus and his legacy, arguing that it was a Western-inspired attempt to promote nationalism and undermine Islamic values. However, the cylinder continues to be an important cultural and historical artefact in Iran and is widely admired for its message of tolerance and respect.
Today, the Cyrus Cylinder is widely regarded as one of the most important ancient artefacts and is considered a treasure of humanity. Its message of hope and compassion inspires people worldwide, reminding us of the enduring power of human dignity and the possibility of a better world.
Message of Tolerance
Cyrus’ policies of religious and cultural tolerance towards the Babylonians were very unusual for conquerors of his time and place. The Achaemenid Empire was vast and diverse, consisting of many different peoples, cultures, and religions. In the ancient world, it was common for conquerors to impose their religious beliefs and culture on the people they conquered, often through force and coercion. However, Cyrus took a different approach – he recognised the diversity of religious and cultural practices among the Babylonians and allowed them to continue their traditions.
This policy of tolerance was reflected in the Cyrus Cylinder, which stated that “I [Cyrus] returned to these sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries of which have been in ruins for a long time… and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned to them their habitations.”
By restoring the religious institutions of the Babylonians and allowing them to practice the religion of their choice, Cyrus demonstrated a commitment to religious freedom that was rare in his time. This policy of tolerance was also extended to cultural practices. Cyrus allowed the Babylonians to continue their customs and traditions, including their language and their system of law.
Cyrus’ policies set a precedent for later rulers to follow and had a profound impact on the development of human rights.
Interpretations and Controversies
Debates and controversies surrounding the Cyrus Cylinder have raged ever since its discovery. Some scholars have questioned its authenticity and raised concerns about the motives behind its creation. One argument is that the Cylinder was not a genuine human rights declaration but rather a propaganda tool used by Cyrus to legitimise his rule.
Other scholars have argued that the Cylinder represents a genuine commitment to human rights and tolerance. They point to the Cylinder’s message of respect for the religious and cultural traditions of the Babylonians and Cyrus’ commitment to restoring their temples and religious institutions.
Furthermore, there have been discussions about the meaning of the Cylinder’s message and how it relates to contemporary ideas of human rights. Some argue that the Cylinder’s emphasis on religious freedom and respect for cultural diversity can be seen as an early expression of human rights principles. Others say that the Cylinder should be understood within its historical context and that its message was specific to Cyrus’ policies towards the Babylonians. And others have suggested the Cylinder was created as a propaganda tool, used by Cyrus to gain support from his subjects and legitimise his rule.
One of the scholars who have argued for the authenticity of the Cyrus Cylinder is Richard Nelson Frye, a renowned American historian of the Middle East. Frye notes that the Cylinder’s message of tolerance and respect for diversity is consistent with other accounts of Cyrus’ reign and that the document’s language and style are similar to other inscriptions from the Achaemenid period.
Title: Cyrus the Great is said in the Bible to have liberated the Jews from the Babylonian captivity to resettle and rebuild Jerusalem, earning him an honoured place in Judaism.
Attribution: Jean Fouquet, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cyrus_II_le_Grand_et_les_H%C3%A9breux.jpg
On the other hand, some scholars have raised questions about the Cylinder’s authenticity and motives. For example, Pierre Briant, a prominent French scholar of ancient Persia, suggested that the Cylinder was created as a propaganda tool to promote Cyrus’ rule and justify his conquests. Briant argues that the Cylinder’s emphasis on religious tolerance and cultural diversity was intended to appeal to the diverse peoples of the Achaemenid Empire and help to legitimise Cyrus’ reign.
Scholars such as the late British historian and specialist in the history of the ancient Near East, Amélie Kuhrt, have taken a more nuanced view of the Cylinder’s motives and significance. Kuhrt suggested that while the Cylinder may have been used as a propaganda tool, its message of tolerance and respect for diversity is nevertheless a significant historical and cultural document. Kuhrt also notes that the Cylinder’s influence on the development of human rights is complex, as it reflects both the values of ancient Persia and the broader cultural and intellectual context of the ancient world.
Overall, the debates about the authenticity and motives behind the Cyrus Cylinder continue to be the subject of ongoing scholarly inquiry and interpretation.
Despite these debates, the Cyrus Cylinder remains a significant artefact that provides valuable insights into the history and culture of the ancient Near East. Its designation as a UNESCO Memory of the World document in 2010 underscores its importance as a document of global significance.
Impact on Politics and Culture
The Cyrus Cylinder has significantly impacted contemporary politics and culture, not just in Iran but worldwide. The Cylinder’s message of tolerance and respect for cultural and religious diversity has inspired many individuals and organisations to work towards a more just and equitable world.
In Iran, the Cylinder has been used by various factions to promote different agendas. While the Pahlavi dynasty (1925-1979) used it as a symbol of national pride and secularism, the Islamic Republic of Iran, after the revolution of 1979, has not used it to promote religious tolerance and unity among different religious groups.
Despite this, the Cylinder’s message of compassion and understanding has remained a powerful force for reconciliation and dialogue in many other parts of the world. For example, in 2013, the British Museum loaned the Cylinder to the United States for a six-city tour, where it was used to promote cultural exchange and understanding between the United States and the Muslim world.
Similarly, the Cylinder has been used as a symbol of unity and understanding between different communities. In 2008, a replica of the Cylinder was presented to the United Nations by the Iranian government, and it was subsequently displayed at the entrance to the UN headquarters in New York City. This gesture was regarded as a powerful symbol of Iran’s commitment to promoting peace, cooperation, and understanding among nations.
In summary, the Cylinder’s message of tolerance and respect for cultural and religious diversity has inspired individuals and organisations worldwide to work towards a more just and equitable world. Despite its controversial history and various interpretations, the Cylinder remains a powerful symbol of unity and understanding between different communities and a reminder of the enduring power of human dignity. Its designation as a UNESCO Memory of the World document underscores its status as a treasure of humanity and highlights its importance as a symbol of global cultural heritage that must be preserved for future generations.
The Words on the Cyrus Cylinder
The Cyrus Cylinder contains an account of Cyrus the Great’s conquest of Babylon in 539 BC and his subsequent policies toward the people of Babylon and their gods:
- The first part, often referred to as column 1, or lines 1 to 18, starts with an introduction of Cyrus as the king of Babylon, Sumer and Akkad and then describes his peaceful entry into Babylon and his efforts to restore the city and its sanctuaries. It also describes Cyrus as a just and righteous ruler who is loved by the gods and his subjects, who were very happy to see him as their new king. The story of Cyrus’ deeds is presented in the third person: the document tells of Nabonidus, the last Babylonian king, who is said to have forbidden the cult of Marduk, among others, and to have oppressed his subjects who complained to the gods, and Marduk found Cyrus to make him the world’s ruler.
- In the second part, column II, Cyrus speaks in the first person. He begins with his titles and then says he took care of Marduk’s cult in Babylon and that he had “allowed them to find rest from their exhaustion, their servitude”. He also says that many kings bring him levies, that he restored the cults in all the former kingdoms which are now part of his, and that he released the former deported persons. This part focuses on Cyrus’s restoration of the temples and the resettlement of people who had been displaced. It also praises Cyrus’s reign and his relationship with the gods.
- Both columns emphasise Cyrus’s respect for the gods and his desire to be seen as a legitimate ruler who is loved by the people and the gods.
Here is the complete text for both columns/parts of the Cyrus Cylinder written in Akkadian cuneiform and translated into English:
“I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king, legitimate king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters, son of Cambyses, great king, king of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus, great king, king of Anshan, descendant of Teispes, great king, king of Anshan, of a family that always exercised kingship; whose rule Bel and Nebo love, whom they want as king to please their hearts.”
“When I entered Babylon in a peaceful manner, I took up my lordly abode in the royal palace amidst rejoicing and happiness. Marduk, the great lord, established as his fate for me a magnanimous heart of one who loves Babylon, and I daily attended to his worship. My numerous troops marched peacefully into Babylon, I did not allow any soldier to terrorize the people of Sumer and Akkad.”
“I kept in view the needs of Babylon and all its sanctuaries to promote their well-being. The citizens of Babylon… I lifted their unbecoming yoke. Their dilapidated dwellings I restored. I put an end to their misfortunes.”
“At my command, the sanctuaries of Sumer and Akkad, whose shrines had been deserted for a long time, the gods who lived therein, and made permanent sanctuaries for them. I also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned to them their habitations. And the gods of the land of Sumer and Akkad which Nabonidus – to the fury of the lord of the gods – had brought into Babylon.”
“May all the gods whom I have placed within their sanctuaries address a daily prayer in my favour before Bel and may they say, ‘Cyrus the king who reveres thee, and Cambyses his son, may their sovereignty be lasting, may they be satisfied with the sight of Babylon, and all its (other) cities, may they issue their commands in righteousness, and may their rule be just.’”
“I am a Persian; I am king of Elam. I brought about the downfall of the Medes. I imposed my rule over all those living in opposition to my rule. My numerous troops moved about undisturbed in the lands of Sumer and Akkad. By the command of Marduk, the great lord, I settled in their habitations, rejoicing their hearts. May all the gods whom I have resettled in their sacred cities ask daily Bel and Nebo for a long life for me, and may they recommend me to him. May he live a long life, may his offspring be numerous, and in the righteous path, may he guide the inhabitants of Babylon, may Nabu, my minister, declare his name sublime, and may he live in the satisfaction of Marduk, my lord.”
The Cyrus Cylinder’s text has traditionally been seen by biblical scholars as corroborative evidence of Cyrus’ policy of the repatriation of the Jewish people following their Babylonian captivity (an act that the Book of Ezra attributes to Cyrus), as the text refers to the restoration of cult sanctuaries and repatriation of deported peoples. This interpretation has been disputed, as the text identifies only Mesopotamian sanctuaries and does not mention Jews, Jerusalem, or Judea. Nonetheless, it has been seen as a sign of Cyrus’s enlightened approach towards cultural and religious diversity. The former Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, said the cylinder was “the first attempt we know about running a society, a state with different nationalities and faiths – a new kind of statecraft“.
How, when, by whom, and why was Cyrus the Great killed?
There are different accounts of the death of Cyrus the Great, and with some of the details disputed by historians, it is difficult to know which account is accurate. The version recounted by Herodotus is the most famous, although some scholars question its accuracy. It is possible that Cyrus the Great died in battle against the Massagetae or another group or even that he died of natural causes. It is also possible that different accounts of his death were invented or exaggerated for political or other reasons. Ultimately, the true cause of Cyrus’s death remains a mystery.
Ancient Greek sources recount that Cyrus died in battle against the Massagetae, a tribe located in Central Asia. The Greek historian Herodotus, writing in the 5th century BC, reports that:
- Cyrus led a military campaign against the Massagetae and their queen Tomyris. After several battles, Cyrus was killed in a decisive confrontation with the Massagetae.
- Queen Tomyris had warned Cyrus against attacking her people, but Cyrus, ignoring her advice, was killed in the ensuing battle, and his army suffered heavy losses. Some accounts suggest that Cyrus was captured alive and subsequently executed by the Massagetae.
It is worth noting, however, that the Greek accounts are based on hearsay information, and there are discrepancies between them. Additionally, some historians have questioned the accuracy of Herodotus’ account of Cyrus’ death, and there are alternative theories about how and when Cyrus died.
Some of the historians who have questioned the accuracy of Herodotus’ account of Cyrus’ death include:
- Josef Wiesehöfer, the internationally renowned expert on the history of pre-Islamic Persia and the forms of contact between the Greek and Roman World and the Ancient Near East, who suggests that Cyrus the Great died during a campaign against the Derbices rather than in a battle with the Massagetae.
- Pierre Briant who argues that Cyrus’ death was more likely the result of natural causes or an accident rather than in battle.
- Amélie Kuhrt, who suggested that accounts of Cyrus’ death may have been exaggerated or mythologised over the years.
The exact date of Cyrus the Great’s death is uncertain, but it is generally believed to have occurred in 530 or 529 BC.
How does the Cyrus Cylinder differ from the Laws of Hammurabi?
The Cyrus Cylinder and the Laws of Hammurabi (aka Code of Hammurabi) are both ancient legal documents, but there are several differences between them.
- One major difference is their historical and cultural contexts. The Cyrus Cylinder was created in the 6th century BC by Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire, while the Laws of Hammurabi were created much earlier – in the 18th century BC by Hammurabi, the ruler of the Babylonian Empire. These documents reflect the different societies and legal systems of their respective time periods and regions.
- Another difference is the scope of the laws. The Cyrus Cylinder is more of a political manifesto, outlining Cyrus’s policies and achievements as a ruler, while the Laws of Hammurabi provide a comprehensive set of laws covering many aspects of daily life in Babylon, including criminal law, family law, and property law.
The style and format of the documents also differ. The Cyrus Cylinder is written in cuneiform script on a clay cylinder, while the Laws of Hammurabi are inscribed on a large stele made of black diorite. While both documents are significant examples of ancient legal documents, they have different purposes, contexts, and scopes.
Closing Words and Review
Title: Cyrus the Great with a Hemhem crown, or four-winged Cherub tutelary divinity, from a relief in the residence of Cyrus in Pasagardae
Attribution: Surenae, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cyrus_II_(The_Great).jpg
In conclusion, the Cyrus Cylinder is an invaluable artefact that has left an enduring legacy in the fields of history, archaeology, and human rights. Its message of tolerance and respect for cultural and religious diversity has inspired countless individuals and organisations to work towards a more just and equitable world.
Despite the controversies and debates surrounding the Cyrus Cylinder, its significance as a document of global importance cannot be overstated. Its inscription represents an early example of a human rights declaration and provides valuable insight into the reign of Cyrus the Great and the Achaemenid Empire.
The Cylinder has also played an important role in contemporary politics and culture in Iran, where it has been used by various factions to promote different agendas. However, its message of compassion and understanding remains a powerful force for reconciliation and dialogue.
In addition to its historical and cultural importance, the Cyrus Cylinder serves as a reminder of the enduring power of human dignity and the possibility of a better world. Its message of hope and compassion has inspired generations to work for justice and equality, and its impact will continue to be felt for years to come.
Because of its significance, it is important to continue to study and preserve the Cyrus Cylinder for future generations. Its designation as a UNESCO Memory of the World document in 2010 underscores its status as a treasure of humanity and highlights its importance as a symbol of global cultural heritage.
The Cyrus Cylinder is an important artefact from the ancient world and a symbol of our shared humanity and the enduring values of compassion, justice, and respect for diversity. Its message resonates as strongly today as it did over 2,500 years ago and serves as a beacon of hope for a better future.
The Cyrus Cylinder provides valuable historical information about the Achaemenid Empire and the reign of Cyrus the Great in several ways. Firstly, it confirms the historical accuracy of Cyrus’ conquest of Babylon, which had been previously documented in other ancient texts. Secondly, it sheds light on the policies of the Achaemenid Empire towards conquered peoples, emphasising Cyrus’ policies of religious and cultural tolerance towards the Babylonians. It also outlines his commitment to restoring Babylon’s temples and religious institutions that previous conquerors had destroyed.
Regarding human rights, the Cyrus Cylinder is regarded as an early example of a human rights declaration because it emphasises Cyrus’ tolerance policies and respect for the traditions of the people he conquered. In particular, it highlights his commitment to religious freedom, his belief that people should be free to worship as they please, and that everyone’s cultural and religious diversity should be respected.
Furthermore, the Cylinder emphasises the need to treat conquered peoples with compassion and fairness and to protect the rights of the poor and vulnerable. It highlights Cyrus’ commitment to improving the lives of his subjects and his belief that good governance involves protecting the rights and welfare of all citizens. These principles are also seen as important components of human rights, and the Cylinder is often cited as an early example of these values in action. Combined with its message of tolerance and compassion, the historical information provided by the Cyrus Cylinder has led many scholars to regard it as an early expression of human rights and a powerful symbol of cultural exchange and understanding.
Sources and Further Reading
- The Cyrus Cylinder: The Great Persian Edict from Babylon, Hardback, by Irving Finkel, published by Bloomsbury Academic (18 Nov 2021), available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cyrus-Cylinder-Great-Persian-Babylon/dp/1350297054/
- The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning for the Middle East, Hardcover, by John Curtis, published by British Museum Press (15 Jul 2013), available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cyrus-Cylinder-Ancient-Persia-Beginning/dp/0714111872
- The Cyrus Cylinder: The King of Persia’s Proclamation from Ancient Babylon, Hardcover, by Finkel, I L (ed.), Taylor, J J, Curtis, John E, and Razmjou, Sh., published by I.B. Tauris, London (26 Mar 2013), available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cyrus-Cylinder-Persias-Proclamation-2013-03-26/dp/B01FIWYJ88/
- Cyrus the Persian Messiah, by Mason Balouchian, Hardcover, published by Mason’s Publishing (15 Jun 2017), available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cyrus-Persian-Messiah-Mason-Balouchian/dp/0990597326
- The Cyrus Cylinder, Hardcover, by Nicholas Hazel, published by Xlibris (16 Jul 2012), available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cyrus-Cylinder-Nicholas-Hazel/dp/1477139842
- Cyrus the Great: An Ancient Iranian King, Paperback, by Touraj Daryaee, Pierre Briant, et al., published by Afshar Publishing (1 Aug 2013), available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cyrus-Great-Ancient-Iranian-King/dp/0985498110
- Xenophon’s Cyrus the Great: The Arts of Leadership and War, Paperback, by Xenophon (Author), Larry Hedrick (Editor), published by St. Martins Press; Reprint edition (8 Mar. 2007), available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Xenophons-Cyrus-Great-Arts-Leadership/dp/0312364695/
- Cyrus The Great: Conqueror, Liberator, Anointed One, Paperback, by Stephen Dando-Collins (Author), published by Turner (27 Aug. 2020), available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cyrus-Great-Stephen-Dando-Collins/dp/1684424372/
YouTube and Other Videos:
- The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning, (Paul Getty Museum), at: https://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/cyrus_cylinder/
- The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: Charting a New Empire, (The Metropolitan Museum of Art), at: https://youtu.be/iokGgmrOj4Q
- The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia, (Khan Academy), at: https://youtu.be/iokGgmrOj4Q
- Why the Cyrus Cylinder Matters Today, (Getty Iris), at: https://youtu.be/NQmS5QQJ2k0
- The Cyrus Cylinder: An Artifact Ahead of Its Time, (Smithsonian Magazine), at: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/videos/the-cyrus-cylinder-an-artifact-ahead-of-its-t/
- The Cyrus Cylinder from Ancient Babylon and the Beginning …, (Lecture by Dr John E. Curtis, OBE, FBA, Keeper of Special Middle East Projects, The Cyrus Cylinder: The Discovery and Creation of an Icon (The British Museum), at: https://youtu.be/5qIoEevJ6qE
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End Notes and Explanations
- Source: Compiled from research using information at the sources stated throughout the text, together with information provided by machine-generated artificial intelligence at: bing.com [chat] and https://chat.openai.com ↑
- Explanation: The Achaemenid royal inscriptions are the surviving inscriptions in cuneiform from the period of Cyrus II in the 6th century BC to Artaxerxes III in the 4th century BC. Along with the archaeological sources and the administrative archives of Persepolis, the inscriptions are among the primary sources of the Achaemenid Empire. However, they have yet to provide an “emancipation from Herotodus” – i.e. scholars remain reliant on Greek sources to reconstruct much of Achaemenid history. The Achaemenid royal inscriptions differ from the earlier Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions in terms of their multilingualism, and the rhetoric, style and structure. The inscriptions mostly appear in three languages: Old Persian, Elamite and Babylonian, and two separate scripts (Babylonian and Elamite being different forms of the same cuneiform). When they appear together, the privileged position is usually occupied by the Old Persian inscription: it is at the top position when they are lined up one below the other, and in the middle when they are arranged horizontally. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achaemenid_royal_inscriptions ↑
- Explanation: Cuneiform is a logo–syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Middle East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is named for the characteristic wedge-shaped impressions (Latin: cuneus) which form its signs. Cuneiform was originally developed to write the Sumerian language of southern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). Cuneiform is the earliest known writing system. Over the course of its history, cuneiform was adapted to write a number of languages in addition to Sumerian. Akkadian texts are attested from the 24th century BC onward and make up the bulk of the cuneiform record. Akkadian cuneiform was itself adapted to write the Hittite language in the early second millennium BC. Source and futher information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuneiform ↑
- Explanation: Hormuzd Rassam is known for making a number of important archaeological discoveries from 1877 to 1882, including the clay tablets that contained the Epic of Gilgamesh, the world’s oldest notable literature. He is widely believed to be the first-known Middle Eastern and Assyrian archaeologist from the Ottoman empire. He emigrated to the United Kingdom, where he was naturalised as a British citizen, settling in Brighton. He represented the British government as a diplomat, helping to free British diplomats from captivity in Ethiopia. In March 1879 at the site of the Esagila in Babylon, Rassam found the Cyrus Cylinder, the famous declaration of Cyrus the Great that was issued in 539 BC to commemorate the Achaemenid Empire‘s conquest of Babylonia. He died in September 1910 and is buried in Hove Cemetery. Source, and further information at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hormuzd_Rassam↑
- As item number 90920, at the British Museum. Source: https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/W_1880-0617-1941 ↑
- Source: https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/W_1880-0617-1941 ↑
- For details of Hormuzd Rassam’s disputes with Sir Henry Rawlinson, a trustee of the British Museum, and with British Museum keeper E. A. Wallis Budge, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hormuzd_Rassam ↑
- The account shown is based on information from several sources, including https://www.worldhistory.org/article/166/the-cyrus-cylinder/ ↑
- Explanation: Nabonidus, (meaning “May Nabu be exalted or “Nabu is praised”) was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, ruling from 556 BC to the fall of Babylon to the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great in 539 BC. Nabonidus was the last native ruler of ancient Mesopotamia, the end of his reign marking the end of thousands of years of Sumero-Akkadian states, kingdoms and empires. One of the most vibrant and individualistic rulers of his time, Nabonidus is remembered as the last independent king of Babylon, and he is characterised by some scholars as an unorthodox religious reformer and as the first archaeologist. The origins of Nabonidus, his connection to previous royalty, and subsequently what claim he had to the throne remain unclear, given that Nabonidus made no genealogical claims of kinship to previous kings. This suggests that he was neither related nor connected to the Chaldean dynasty of Babylonian rulers. However, he is known to have had a prominent career of some kind before he became king. It is possible that he was connected to the Chaldean kings via marriage, possibly having married a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar II (r. 605–562 BC). Nabonidus’s mother, Adad-guppi, was of Assyrian or Aramean ancestry. His father, Nabu-balatsu-iqbi, of whom little is known, may also have been either Assyrian or Aramean. Some historians have speculated that either Adad-guppi or Nabu-balatsu-iqbi were members of the Sargonid dynasty, rulers of the Neo-Assyrian Empire until its fall in 609 BC. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabonidus ↑
- Explanation: Marduk was a god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. When Babylon became the political centre of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi (18th century BC), Marduk slowly started to rise to the position of the head of the Babylonian pantheon, a position he fully acquired by the second half of the second millennium BC. In the city of Babylon, Marduk was worshipped in the temple Esagila. Marduk is associated with the divine weapon Imhullu. His symbolic animal and servant, whom Marduk once vanquished, is the dragon Mušḫuššu. “Marduk” is the Babylonian form of his name. ↑
- Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_Cylinder ↑
- Explanation: The Massagetae or Massageteans, also known as Sakā tigraxaudā, were an ancient Eastern Iranian Saka people who inhabited the steppes of Central Asia and were part of the wider Scythian cultures. The Massagetae rose to power in the 8th to 7th centuries BC, when they prompted a series of events with wide-reaching consequences by expelling the Scythians out of Central Asia and into the Caucasian and Pontic Steppes. The Massagetae are most famous for their queen Tomyris‘s alleged defeating and killing of Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Achaemenid Empire. The Massagetae declined after the 3rd century BC, after which they merged with other tribes to form the Alans, a people who belonged to the larger Sarmatian tribal confederation, and who moved westwards into the Caucasian and European steppes, where they participated in the events of the Migration Period. Source and further information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massagetae ↑
- Explanation: Tomyris (also called Thomyris, Tomris, or Tomiride), was an Iranian Queen who reigned over the Massagetae, an Iranian Saka people of Central Asia. Tomyris led her armies to defend against an attack by Cyrus the Great of the Achaemenid Empire, and, according to Herodotus, defeated and killed him in 530 BC. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomyris ↑
- Explanation: The Derbices were a people who lived in the eastern part of the Achaemenid Empire, which is modern-day Turkmenistan. According to the ancient Greek historian Ctesias, Cyrus the Great was killed during a campaign against the Derbices. However, there is not much information available about this group, and little is known about their culture or history outside of their brief mentions in ancient sources. ↑