This article discusses the claim that the Cyrus cylinder was the ‘first declaration of human rights’, a claim that was actively promoted by the former Shah of Iran and later by several organizations in the West that promote Iranian heritage. Also the present government of Iran is interested in the cylinder and had it exhibited in Teheran in 2010-1, after a diplomatic row about the right to borrow the object from the British Museum. The misuse of the cylinder has gone so far, that a fake translation has appeared on the internet that is quoted widely. We see the claim also in adverts announcing the recent exhibit of the cylinder in the USA and in various scholarly works. The cylinder, however, is nothing more than a document in which Cyrus justifies his conquest of Babylon by seeking the support of the local god, Marduk, and by granting repatriation of abducted gods and people from Mesopotamia and the eastern plain of the Tigris; a policy that was not new. The article also explores the image of Cyrus in the Greek world and the Hebrew Bible. A new translation of the cylinder is provided.
|Number of pages||17|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|