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Achaemenid, Cyrus Cylinder, 539–538 BC, clay, British Museum. © Trustees of the British Museum

British Museum Director Neil MacGregor on the “Cyrus Cylinder”

Sunday, May 05, 2013
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Beck Building
5601 Main Street Map & Directions

The Many Meanings of the "Cyrus Cylinder"
Presented by Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, in conjunction with the exhibition The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning

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. 

A reception follows. Questions about the content of this lecture? E-mail

Lecture Tickets | SOLD OUT
For more information, call 713.639.7771. If available, standby tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis on-site, prior to the lecture.

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.