Iranian society calls for national registration of Cyrus Cylinder

September 21, 2010 - 0:0

Tehran Times Culture Desk

@T=TEHRAN -- The Iranian Society of Architecture Luminaries has proposed that Iran register the Cyrus Cylinder on the National Cultural Heritage List.
“We should seize this opportunity caused by the arrival of the Cyrus Cylinder in the country to register it on the list,” society director Alireza Qahhari told the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency on Monday.
“If we register the Cyrus Cylinder on the list now, we can make the arrangements to register the artifact on the UNESCO list,” he added.
“Although the Cyrus Cylinder is not kept in Iran, it belongs to the country and we should emphasize this fact by national and international registration of this artifact,” Qahhari stated.
The Cyrus Cylinder is currently on display at the National Museum of Iran in Tehran. The British Museum has loaned the artifact for a four-month show at the Iranian museum.
The cylinder was unveiled during a ceremony attended by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, British Museum director Neil MacGregor and several other British and Iranian officials on September 12.
“The Cyrus Cylinder is a precious item that sets a lofty criterion for judging the performance of rulers,” Ahmadinejad said in the ceremony.
Many Iranian officials have been outraged by the remarks he made in praise of the artifact and the personality of Cyrus the Great.
The cylinder was discovered in 1879 by the Assyro-British archaeologist Hormuz Rassam in the foundations of the Esagila, the main temple of Babylon. It was transferred to London and was kept at the British Museum.
Considered the world’s first declaration of human rights, the Cyrus Cylinder is a document issued by the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great in the form of a clay cylinder inscribed in Akkadian cuneiform script.
The cylinder was created following the Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, when Cyrus overthrew the Babylonian king Nabonidus and replaced him as ruler, ending the Neo-Babylonian Empire.
The text of the cylinder denounces Nabonidus as impious and portrays the victorious Cyrus as pleasing to the chief Babylonian god Marduk.
It goes on to describe how Cyrus had improved the lives of the citizens of Babylonia, repatriated displaced peoples and restored temples and cult sanctuaries.
The artifact was last displayed in Iran 40 years ago.
Photo: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Cyrus Cylinder after it was unveiled at the National Museum of Iran on September 12, 2010. (Mehr/Majid Asgaripur)