(CAIS) -- The Cyrus the Great Cylinder, described as the world's first
Charter of Human Rights returned to the British Museum on Monday, following
the seven-month loan to the National Museum of Iran (NMI).
priceless Cylinder arrived in the UK just after the cultural authorities in Iran
severed ties with the Louvre over the French museum’s decision not to
lend Iranian antiquities to NMI.
British Museum said the artefact would go back on display in its ancient Iran
gallery (Room 52) on Tuesday.
to loaning, the cylinder caused difficulties between the two countries when
the Islamic Republic threatened to cut ties with the British Museum if it did
not lend the Persian artefact.
relations between the two countries have been strained by Iran's disputed
nuclear program that Britain and other Western countries led by the US,
accused Iran of developing nuclear weapons; the same was claimed about Saddam
Hussain, which resulted in the invasion of Iraq in 2003; and the evidence to
support their allegations proved to be fabricated. Iran also believes Britain
is provoking and arming Arab immigrants residing in Iran’s oil rich
Khuzestan Province as well as supporting terrorists groups active in
Sistan-va-Balucestan Province to destabilise the country.
addition, a number of Iranian
academics and oppositions objected the loaning of the cylinder to Iran,
since the safety could not be guaranteed; a four-month loan was eventually agreed
in September 2010. The cylinder was escorted by a British delegation
headed by Dr John Curtis to the exhibition site, where it was displayed for
the first time after 40 years during the 2,500
Year Celebration of Iranian Monarchy in 1971.
duration of the loan
was extended in December 2010, due to the exhibition’s popularity. Over
two million Iranians have viewed this priceless artefact while it was on
display in NMI.
presence of Cyrus the Great Cylinder in Iran has proved immensely significant,
as it was provided an opportunity for the majority of Iranians and
non-governmental cultural establishments to promote a ‘nationalist narrative’,
which predates Islam for thousands of years, once again since 1979 without
fear of prosecution. Therefore, the bete noir of the artefact was the
highest echelons for the Mullahs in Iran, as they boycotted the exhibition and
called it the ‘work
Mullahs and fundamentalists were only too ecstatic to see the back of the
the Great Cylinder was found during a British Museum
excavation at Babylon in Iraq in 1879, and has been in the British Museum
since that time. It was originally inscribed and buried in the foundations of
a wall after Cyrus the Great, considered by Iranians as the ‘Father of
Nation’, captured Babylon in 539 BCE.
records that aided by the god Marduk, Cyrus took Babylon without any
struggle, restored shrines dedicated to different gods and repatriated
deported peoples who had been brought to Babylon. It was this decree that
allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Because of
these enlightened acts, which were rare in antiquity, the Cylinder has
acquired a special resonance, and is valued by people all around the world as
a symbol of tolerance and respect for different peoples and different faiths.
These are the qualities for which Cyrus is revered in the Hebrew Bible.
fragments of a tablet were also found in the19th century British Museum
excavations in or near Babylon. These fragments were identified by experts at
the Museum in January 2010 as being inscribed with parts of the same text as
the Cylinder but do not belong to it. Initially, they show that the text of
the Cylinder was probably a proclamation that was widely distributed across
the Persian Empire (550-330 BCE). In August 2010, however the extracts of
Cyrus the Great Cylinder were
also discovered in China.
extracts were carved with cuneiform inscriptions on two fossilised horse
bones. They were initially dismissed as fakes because of the improbability of
ancient Persian texts turning up in Beijing, but following an in-depth
research, the BM specialist Irving Finkel was convinced of their authenticity.
With the findings become clear that the proclamation were widely
distributed beyond the borders of the Persian Empire.
the Cyrus Cylinder is called the world's oldest human rights document, Eurocentrics,
anti-Semitics and Muslim fundamentalists alike claim it was common in
Mesopotamia for a king to begin their rule with such reform declarations,
despite the fact that no such a creed has ever been discovered to support