A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Cyrus Cylinder Comes to DC

Opening this weekend at the Smithsonian Institution's Sackler Gallery of Art is the visit to the US of one of the British Museum's prizes: the so-called Cyrus Cylinder.

The Sackler exhibition "The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: a New Beginning" opens tomorrow and runs through April 28. It's the first stop on a national tour that will include Houston, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The cylinder contains a decree by Cyrus the Great on the occasion of his conquest of Babylon in 539 BC. In addition to praising Cyrus it mentions that those peoples taken captive by the Babylonians may return to their own countries and rebuild the temples of their gods, and thus is seen as both reflecting the decree of Cyrus as described in the Bible (allowing he Jews to return from their Babylonian Captivity and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem), and thus as a pioneering landmark in religious freedom.

I'll post more after I have a chance to see it.

No comments: