Modest in scale and appearance, the Cyrus Cylinder is one of the most famous icons to have survived from the ancient world. The origins of this baked-clay object, which was buried as a foundation deposit, can be traced to the Persian king Cyrus the Great (reigned c. 559–530 BC) and his victory over the last Babylonian ruler, Nabonidus, in 539 BCE. The Cyrus Cylinder was not discovered until 1879, but Cyrus’s tolerance has inspired generations of philosophers, rulers, and statesmen—from ancient Greece to the Renaissance, and from the U.S. founding fathers to leaders in the modern-day Near East—and has made the Cyrus Cylinder a powerful symbol of religious tolerance and multiculturalism. This enthralling talk traces 2,600 years of Middle Eastern history through this single object.
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Exhibition Catalogue The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue. To order, click here or call The MFAH Shop at 713.639.7360.