The Cyrus Cylinder, sometimes referred to as the first “bill of human rights”, traces its origins to the Persian king Cyrus the Great’s conquest of Babylon in 6th century BC.
Almost 2,600 years later, its remarkable legacy continues to shape contemporary political debates, cultural rhetoric and philosophy.
One of the most celebrated objects in world history made its US debut on March 9 when “The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia” opened at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, NewsDesk reported.
On loan from the British Museum, the cylinder will be on view at the Sackler through April 28, travelling afterwards to Houston, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
History in One Object
“You could almost say that the Cyrus Cylinder is a history of the Middle East in one object, creating a link to a past that we all share and to a key moment in history that has shaped the world around us,” said Neil Macgregor, director of the British Museum.
“Objects are uniquely able to speak across time and space, and this object must be shared as widely as possible.”
Macgregor thinks Cyrus’s legacy is particularly important today.
“We are confronting in every one of our cities, in Europe and in America, a new kind of diversity--people of different ethnicities, languages, faiths, traditions trying to live together,” he says. “We don’t really have a model for this. But we all know that somebody once did.”
The cylinder--a barrel-shaped clay object covered in Babylonian cuneiform, one of the earliest written languages--announced Cyrus’ victory and his intention to allow freedom of worship to communities displaced by the defeated ruler Nabonidus.
At the time, such declarations were not uncommon, but Cyrus’ was unique in its nature and scope.
“Cyrus was the very image of a virtuous rule--inspiring leaders from Alexander the Great to Thomas Jefferson--so it is apt that the first time it will be seen in the West is in Washington, DC,” said Julian Raby, the director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art.
He hopes the exhibit will encourage visitors to appreciate how different cultures learn to value objects in different ways.
“There isn’t a single story,” he explains. “It’s actually about looking at the way in which we constantly reinterpret, the way that different eras and different agendas take objects and project onto them.”
Under Cyrus (ca.580-530 BC), the Persian Empire became the largest and most diverse the world had known to that point.
Subsequent generations of rulers considered it to be the ideal example of unified governance across multiple cultures, languages and vast distances.
Cyrus’ declarations of tolerance, justice and religious freedom provided inspiration for generations of philosophers and policymakers, from Ancient Greece to the Renaissance, and from the Founding Fathers to modern-day Iran, so much so that a copy now resides in the UN headquarters in New York.
The message of the cylinder and the larger legacy of Cyrus’ leadership have been appropriated and reinterpreted over millennia, beginning with its creators.
The Babylonian scribe who engraved the cylinder attributed Cyrus’ victory to the Babylonian god Marduk, a stroke of what could be considered royal and religious propaganda.
In the 4th century BC, the Greek historian Xenophon wrote Cyropaedia, a text that romanticizes the philosophies and education of Cyrus as the ideal ruler, which greatly influenced both Alexander the Great and, much later, Thomas Jefferson in his creation of the Declaration of Independence.
When the cylinder was rediscovered in 1879, it immediately entered the fray of public debate as invaluable proof of the historical veracity of events described in biblical scripture.
When the cylinder was loaned to Iran in 2010, it was viewed by more than 1 million people, one of the most visited exhibitions in the country’s history.
The exhibition includes related objects that highlight some of the artistic, cultural and historical achievements of the Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BC) of Iran, such as architectural fragments, finely carved seals and luxury objects from the Oxus Treasure.
Curated by John Curtis, keeper of Special Middle East Projects at the British Museum, the show will travel to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco and the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles through October.
The exhibition is organized by the British Museum in partnership with the Iran Heritage Foundation and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, and is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metro on the Blue and Orange lines.
Iranian Handicrafts Heading For Turkmenistan
Translated by Leila Imani
Plans have been made for the active participation of Iranian craftsmen in Norouz (Iranian New Year starting on March 21) celebrations to be held in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat.
Announcing this, Yahya Rahmati, the deputy head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) for handicrafts, referred to the status of the country’s handicrafts and traditional arts, CHTN reported.
He said Iranian handicrafts symbolize beauty and demonstrate the innovative abilities of craftsmen.
“Various countries are interested in purchasing Iranian handicrafts,” he said.
Based on the plans, Iranian handicrafts will be introduced by craftsmen participating in Norouz celebrations in Ashgabat.
Rahmati said thanks to the efforts of past and present governments, significant developments have taken place in the handicraft sector.
He noted that the full potential of the country’s handicraft sector should be used to introduce the culture, art and history of Iran, and generate jobs.
The official said holding handicraft markets in various Iranian cities is among the most important measures, which will be taken by ICHHTO during Norouz.
Rahmati said opportunities existing in various provinces should be used for improving the handicraft industry.
Economic Role of Tourism Underlined
About 2,300 investment plans worth 48 billion rials have been presented in the Exhibition of Investment Opportunities in Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicraft Sectors.
The exhibition was held in Tehran’s International Fairground during March 6-8.
Speaking during a visit to the exhibition, Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh, the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO), emphasized the important role played by tourism industry in the country’s economic development.
Malekzadeh said showcasing the potentials of 31 provinces in the fields of tourism, handicrafts and traditional arts will help the sectors make significant progress at the domestic and international levels.
Referring to Voice of Spring Festival to be held in 31 province during Norouz (Iranian New Year starting March 21), he said that holding various festivals in historical places will lead to development of tourism at the national and international levels.
Malekzadeh urged the mass media to introduce the tourism attractions of Iran, pointing out that proper facilities should be provided for attracting domestic and foreign investments.
Kohlrabi and Yogurt Dip
Thick yogurt, 2 1/2 cups (strained)
Kohlrabi (Kalam Qomri), 3 medium (peeled, thinly sliced or coarsely shredded)
Parsley, 1 bunch (leaves removed and chopped)
Chive or scallion, 1 small bunch (chopped)
Mint, a few sprigs (chopped or 1 teaspoon dried mint)
Onion, 1 large (chopped or thinly sliced)
Garlic, 3 cloves (minced)
Turmeric powder, a pinch
Red pepper powder, 1/2 teaspoon (adjusted to your liking)
Olive oil or vegetable oil
Salt to taste
Place the sliced kohlrabies into a skillet, add 1/2 cup of water and cook on medium-low heat for about ten minutes until they soften slightly. Add a pinch of salt. Discard water.
Heat three tablespoons of olive oil/vegetable oil in a frying pan, add onions and saute until golden brown. Add a tiny pinch of turmeric and the minced garlic, stir and saute them in olive oil for another five minutes.
Add the kohlrabi pieces, salt and pepper to taste. At the end, add the chopped parsley, chives and mint and mix well.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt with all the ingredients and gently stir together. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Let cool for an hour.
Scoop the yogurt into a serving bowl and garnish with fried onion and garlic. You can layer the top with extra slices of kohlrabi. This could be served as a side dish or an afternoon healthy snack with warm bread or pita chips.
Health Benefits of Yogurt
Eating yogurt everyday is very healthy for the body. For those looking to supplement their protein, calcium and dairy, yogurt is a healthy choice.
Yogurt is not just a delicious snack. It has great health benefits. It is an excellent source of protein, calcium, riboflavin and vitamin B 12.
When yogurt is compared to milk, yogurt contains more calcium and protein because of the added cultures.
Yogurt must contain active and living cultures to be yogurt. Cultures are composed of unique living microorganisms that are responsible for many of the health and nutritional benefits of yogurt.
• It improves natural defense, as it contains a good amount of phosphorus and 88 percent water. People with a risk of osteoporosis should eat at least one serving of yogurt per day.
• It has also been claimed that yogurt may protect against some types of cancer, but more investigations have to be carried out.
• There are three types of yogurt: regular (whole milk), low-fat and skim. Low-fat and skim yogurt are good for people who are on a cholesterol-lowering diet or simply keen on maintaining their weights. These types of yogurt do not raise blood cholesterol levels.
• Some people have trouble digesting lactose, a carbohydrate in milk and milk products, because of the deficiency of enzyme lactase in the body. Live yogurt cultures produce lactase and break down the lactose.
Yogurt is a healthy way to get calcium for those who cannot tolerate milk products.
The first Safari Family Tour will be organized in the central Iranian desert during Norouz (Iranian New Year starting March 21).
In love, there are no days or nights,
For lovers it is all the same.
The musicians have gone, yet the sufis listen;
In love, there is a beginning but no end.
Each has a name for his beloved,
But for me my beloved is nameless.
Sa’di, if you destroy an idol,
Then destroy the idol of the self.
The world, my brother, will abide with none,
By the world’s maker let thy heart be won.
Rely not, nor repose on this world’s gain,
For many a son like thee she has reared and slain.
What matters, when the spirit seeks to fly,
If on a throne or on bare earth we die?