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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


Cyrus Cylinder will stay in Iran for another three months


08 January 2011



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The Cyrus Cylinder


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A High Ranking Persian Rabbi called Der Spiegel article attacking Cyrus the Great, the work of anti-Semitics and Neo-Nazis.


By Shimon D. Cohen - CAIS


LONDON, (CAIS) -- Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organisation (ICHTO) has announced this morning, the Cyrus the Great Cylinder will remain in Iran for another three moths.


The priceless artefact was loaned by the British Museum to Iran on September 10, 2010 for a period of 4 months to be displayed on a special exhibition at the National Museum of Iran (NMI). 


CAIS learnt on December 20, 2010 the Islamic Republic's officials have requested the BM to extend the loaning period. Upon CAIS inquiry, the BM confirmed the report and claimed the decision regarding the request yet to be taken.


Bloomberg websites however published a report on Wednesday January 04, 2011 announcing that the British Museum has agreed to extend the loaning of the artifact for a further three months. 


On the following day, Azadeh Ardekani the director of the NMI in speaking with the Persian service of ISNA rejected the Bloomberg's news and stated: "I contacted the Keeper of the Middle East collections at the British Museum John Curtis, but he said he knew nothing of such an agreement."


When CAIS asked the BM to clarify regarding the contradictory news, Hannah Boulton the head of the BM's head of Press and Public Relations Office told CAIS on Friday: "I believe an announcement will be made in Iran tomorrow regarding the extension.  A statement from the British Museum will go live on our website on Monday." 


It appears that the Bloomberg news was accurate, however, the reasons for Ardekani's falsely rejecting the news as well the BM reluctance in issuing a statement remains puzzling.


It seems the issue surrounding the Cyrus Cylinder is politically motivated and related to the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who wishes to portray himself as a nationalist, in order to gain the support of the public.


Amir Taheri, in his recent article "Iran: Ahmadinejad's Quest for Legitimacy" writes: "hoping to regain a measure of legitimacy in the wake of the disputed presidential election in 2009, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be trying to recast himself as a nationalist leading a struggle against foreign foes."


The clay cylinder was discovered in 1879 by the Assyro-British archaeologist Hormuz Rassam in the foundations of the Esagila, the main temple of Babylon. 

Considered the world’s first declaration of human rights, the Cyrus Cylinder is a decree issued by Cyrus the Great, whom Iranians consider as the Father of the Nation.

The cylinder describes how the benevolent emperor had improved the lives of the citizens of Babylonia, repatriated displaced Israelites and restored temples and cult sanctuaries following the Iranian conquest of Babylon in 539 BCE. 


In the past few years a coalition of Muslim-fundamentalists, Eurocentrics and anti-Semitics, become to known as the "the Axis of Prejudice"  who subscribe to the thoughts of Muslim fundamentalist Sadeq Khalkhali began a campaign to attack and defame Cyrus the great and his legacy. 


Khalkahali, who was anti-Semitic came to be known as the 'Hanging judge' for his brutality in  post-revolutionary Iran, called Cyrus the Great "a despot, homosexual-Jew Lover". In his book "Cyrus the Despot and Liar", he claimed that Cyrus freeing the Jews and rebuilding the temples in Jerusalem as a hoax and was "propagated by Zionists to provide a created false history for Jews in order to legitimize the existence of the state of Israel."


It is claimed Muslim-hardliners and anti-Semitics in Iran have employed a Dutch pseudo-historian to propagate Khalkahli's doctrine regarding Cyrus the Great in the West. So far he has been successful as two prominent European newspapers, Der Spiegel and Daily Telegraph have fallen for his propaganda.



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