Every Iranian (Persian) is really proud when it comes to the Cyrus Cylinder. It is like Pharaohs for our Egypt. Many Iranians believe that Egypt is nothing without its outstanding civilization and Pharaohs. The Cyrus Cylinder is in the same situation. It is an ancient clay cylinder, on which a law is written in the name of Persiaʼ Achaemenid king Cyrus the Great.
It was discovered in the Esagila, a temple in Mesopotamia (i.e., an ancient part of Iran, our contemporary Iraq) in 1879. Then, it was smuggled by British colonists to London. It was created and used as a foundation deposit following the Persian conquest in 539 BC, when the Neo-Babylonian Empire was incorporated into the Persian Empire of Iran. Therefore, the story began and Iraq became part of Iran. This has never been forgotten by ancient and modern Persians.
The text on the Cylinder praises Cyrus the Great, and portrays him as a democratic king. The Babylonian king Nabonidus was defeated by Cyrus the Great. Cyrus the Great is portrayed as having been selected by Marduk (the God of Iraq) to establish peace and govern Babylon. The ancient text declares that Cyrus the Great was welcomed by the people of Babylon (Iraq) as their new king and entered the city with no war.
When it comes to Cyrus the Great, we should confess his role in making modern Iran is very central. Cyrus the Great is the king of Western Asia and Central Asia. This is the area that we call the Persian Empire of Iran (Persia).
The Cyrus Cylinder is a long-lasting lesson for Western Asia and Central Asia. Marduk the God protected and helped Cyrus the Great and his son Cambyses. Marduk praised Cyrus as a friend of Babylon who improved their lives, repatriated refugees and repaired holy temples and sanctuaries in the region. The text concludes with a description of how Cyrus the Great fixed the city wall of Babylon in Iraq. The text refers to the restoration of sanctuaries and sending deported citizens to their homes. It may also include Jews, Jerusalem, or Judea. The message of the Cyrus Cylinder is vital. It is like Cyrus the Great commands that civilizations of the region should be rebuilt and re-stored. People of his kingdom should help each other to take their historical dignity back and revive the glitter and glamour of their civilizations.
The Bible says that exiled Jewish people went to Israel to restore their holy temple following a royal order from Cyrus the Great. The Book of Eza (1-4:5) provides a narrative of restoring the project. Historians believe one particular passage from the Cyrus Cylinder is related to the Old Testament account.
The text of the Cyrus Cylinder is as follow: Lines 1-19: criticizing Nabonidus and associating Cyrus with Marduk; Lines 20-22: detailing Cyrus’s royal titles, his Persian family history, and his peaceful entry to Babylon; Lines 22-34: an approval of Cyrus’s policy of restoring Babylon; Lines 34-35: praising Marduk on behalf of Cyrus the Great and his son Cambyses; Lines 36-37: a declaration that Cyrus the Great has enabled the citizens to live peacefully and has increased the offerings made to the gods; Lines 38-45: details of the building activities ordered by Cyrus the Great in Babylon.
The exact text is as follow:
“I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king, mighty king, king of Babylon, king of the land 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, progeny of an unending royal line, whose rule Bel and Nabu cherish, whose kingship they desire for their hearts’ pleasures When I, well-disposed, entered Babylon, I established the seat of government in the royal palace amidst jubilation and rejoicing. Marduk, the great God, caused the bighearted inhabitants of Babylon to…me. I sought daily to worship him. My numerous troops moved about undisturbed in the midst of Babylon. I did not allow any to terrorize the land 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 deeds Marduk, the great Lord, rejoiced, and to me, Cyrus, the king who worshipped, and to Cambyses, my son, the offspring of my loins, and to all my troops, he graciously gave his blessing, and in good spirit is before him we/glorified/exceedingly his high divinity. All the kings who sat in the throne rooms, throughout the four quarters, from the Upper to the Lower Sea, those who dwelt in … all the kings of the West Country who dwelt in tents, brought me their heavy tribute and kissed my feet in Babylon. From … to the cities of Ashur and Susa, Agade, Eshnuna, the cities of Zamban, Meurnu, Der, as far as the region of the land of Gutium, the holy cities beyond the Tigris whose sanctuaries had been in ruins over a long period, the Gods whose abode is in the midst of them. I returned to the places and housed them in lasting abodes. I gathered together all their inhabitants and restored to them their dwellings. The Gods of Sumer and Akkad whom Nabonidus had, to the anger of the Lord of the Gods, brought into Babylon, I at the bidding of Marduk, the great Lord made to dwell in peace in their habitations, delightful abodes. May all the gods whom I have placed within their sanctuaries address a daily prayer in my favour before Bel and Nabu, that my days may long, and may they say to Marduk my Lord, May Cyrus the King who reveres thee, and Cambyses his son …”
The Cyrus Cylinder displays that Marduk permitted Cyrus the Great to become the new king. Marduk searched in every country for the best king. Marduk took the hand of Cyrus, king of Iran, and called him by his name, asking him for his kingdom over Iraq.
While Iran is our motherland, Iraq is like our fatherland due to the effects of Babylonian, Assyrian and Persian civilizations on each other. The concept of human rights was explained by Cyrus the Persian King of Iran in Iraq. He is the earliest known advocate of religious tolerance and presents ideas that led to developing human rights. Therefore, Iraq is a beginning for a better unity for many Iranians (modern Persians).
Iranians appreciate the Cyrus Cylinder because it reflects long-lasting Mesopotamian and Persian relationships (Iran-Iraq). It reflects a long tradition in Mesopotamia where, from as early as the third millennium BC, kings began their reigns with declarations of democratic reforms. Cyrus’s declaration stresses his legitimacy as the king, and is a prominent statement of his respect for the religious and political traditions of region. Cyrus the Great was a democratic Persian king who re-built the ruined temples in the cities he conquered, restored their religious beliefs, and returned their holy images as well as their former residents which Nabonidus had taken to Babylon. This is an important lesson for us in any part of Western Asia and Central Asia. We need to believe in freedom, religious tolerance and human dignity. This is what we need for a better future in Western Asia and Central Asia.
The new Persian generation believes that the Cyrus Cylinder will continue serving as a showcase for modern Persia in which the contributions that Iran had made to world civilization will be highly recognized. The Achaemenid period was a moment from the national past that best serves as a model and a slogan for the future of Western Asia and Central Asia.
The Cyrus Cylinder is the heritage of human understanding, tolerance, bravery, kindness and human freedom. It is the efforts of the United Nations General Assembly to address “the question of Respect for Human Rights in Armed Conflict”. The United Nations continues to promote the cylinder as “an ancient declaration of human rights”. The Cylinder shows that everyone is entitled to freedom of thought and choice and all individuals should pay respect to one another. The historical charter also highlights the necessity of fighting oppression, respecting human dignity, defending the oppressed, and recognizing human rights. The Cyrus Cylinder bears testimony to the fact that the Persian nation has always been the flag-bearer of justice, support and human values throughout their history.
At the end of this story, we would like to say that buying and selling ancient objects is a serious international crime. Finding part of the Persian heritage inside or outside Iran does not tell much that somebody is permitted to steal it. There is no any type of legal stealing or illegal stealing. This means it is time for us to return our stolen heritage. Western Asia and Central Asia deserve Cyrus the Great and he deserves us. We ask the civilized nations of the region to vote for the freedom of the Cyrus Cylinder.
Hormuzd Rassam found the Cyrus Cylinder in Babylon in 1879.
Nabonidus praying to the moon, sun and the planet Venus in Iraq
Cyrus the Great and his wife
The Cyrus Cylinder stolen by British colonists
Cyrus the Great`s Empire
Cyrus the Great and his nations
Cyrus the Great gives hand to the Babylon king (the behavioral model that we need in the region).
He appreciates Iran-Iraq relationships !