The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning For the Middle East by John Curtis is an illustrated study of one of the most iconic objects from the ancient world. The book features an introductory essay by Neil MacGregor (Director of the British Museum) and a translation of the Cyrus Cylinder by Irving Finkel.
‘You could almost say that the Cyrus Cylinder is a history of the Middle East in one object and it is a link to a past which we all share and to a key moment in history that has shaped the world around us.’
- Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum.
The Cyrus Cylinder is one of the most famous objects to have survived from the ancient world. It is often referred to as the first bill of human rights, as it appears to permit freedom of worship throughout the Persian Empire and to allow deported people to return to their homelands. The text is inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform on the orders of the Persian King Cyrus the Great (559-530 BC) after he captured Babylon.
It is a valued object by people all around the world as a symbol of tolerance and respect for different peoples and different faiths, which is why a copy of the cylinder is on display in the United Nations building in New York.
This highly illustrated catalogue is published to complement the first ever tour of the object to the United States, along with sixteen other objects from the British Museum’s world- famous collection. Including a new authoritative translation of the Cyrus Cylinder by Irving Finkel, The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia offers a fascinating introduction into a period of great social and political change in the Ancient Near East.
Watch a video about the Cyrus Cylinder here
Read a translation of The Cyrus Cylinder here
John Curtis is Keeper of Special Middle East Projects at the British Museum and a Fellow of the British Academy. His personal research interests focus on the archaeology and history of Iraq and Iran, c.1000 – 300 BC. He is the author of a number of books including An Examination of Late Assyrian Metalwork, Ancient Persia, The Oxus Treasure, Forgotten Empire (with Nigel Tallis) and The Horse: From Arabia to Royal Ascot (with Nigel Tallis).
Introductory essay by Neil MacGregor
Translation of the Cyrus Cylinder by Irving Finkel
Five contextual chapters (The Origins of the Persians, History of the Persian Empire, The Main Cities of the Persian Empire, The Art and Architecture of the Persian Empire and The Oxus Treasure).