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  • Drou
    Subject: The Father of the Iranian nation visits United States The Father of the Iranian nation visits the United States ‘The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 8 12:41 PM
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      Subject: The "Father" of the Iranian nation visits United States

      The Father of the Iranian nation visits the United States
      ‘The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia’
      08 March 2013
      The 'Cyrus Cylinder' of ancient Iran, a landmark in social and
      religious freedom, a potent symbol of Iranian national identity, will begin its
      first U.S. tour with an exhibit that opens Saturday in Washington.
      Shimon D. Cohen - CAIS

        (Click to enlarge)
      LONDON, (CAIS)
      -- The Exhibition of ‘The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia’
      opens Saturday 9th March, marking the first U.S. appearance of one of the most
      celebrated objects from antiquity known as the Cyrus Cylinder, declared by many
      as the ‘World’s First Charter of Human Rights’, an American
      football-shaped artefact inscribed with orders issued by Cyrus the Great after
      his conquest of Babylon in 539 BCE.
      The exhibition
      "is about understanding the way Iranians see themselves in the world, and
      that's obviously important at the moment," said Neil MacGregor, director
      of the British Museum, which loaned the priceless artefact.

      Although it is the first time that the ‘Cyrus Cylinder’ is going to
      the US, the cylinder’s principle message, which is the Cyrus the Great
      doctrine is no stranger to Americans, particularly to one of the U.S. Founding

      When the third U.S. president Thomas Jefferson was in need of guidance for drafting
      the US Constitution, he turned to "Cyropaedia", the biography of the
      ancient Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great, written by the 4th century BCE
      Athenian historian Xenophon.

      What attracted Jefferson to the ancient Emperor was not his military prowess but
      his enlightened approach to government, and he admired the book so much he
      owned two copies. Cyropaedia(Kyropaideia)
      meaning "The Education of Cyrus", told the story of the great
      Zoroastrian Emperor, the founder of the second Iranian dynastic Empire, the
      Achaemenids (550-330 BCE), which portrays both his virtue and skills as a
      soldier and a just leader, a paragon of every conceivable moral virtue. His
      benevolent character was also confirmed in the Bible, who was chosen as the
      ‘anointed of the God’.

      The Empire that Cyrus founded was not only the world’s first superpower,
      but also the only Empire that was based on tolerance, justice, respect and
      equality for its subjects. It stretched into three continents, and covered
      portions of current-day Greece and all of the Near and Middle East to the
      southern shores of the Persian Gulf, central Asia, caucuses, North Africa and
      Indian subcontinent. The Imperial dynasty brought such innovations as an annual
      budget, monitory, legal and postal systems, a network of roads stretched
      throughout the empire, a standing professional army and navy and civil service
      before collapsing in 330 BCE.

      Cyrus Cylinder
      After it had been buried, the cylinder lay undisturbed for more than 2,400
      years until it was dug up by Assyrian Archaeologist Hormuzd Rassam in 1879.
      When the text was translated, “it was
      immediately realised that the cylinder had a very special significance”,
      says MacGregor.

      The Cylinder in the shape of American football is about nine inches long and
      four inches wide and inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform. Evidently, the cylinder
      was created sometime after the inclusion of Babylon into the Persian Empire, while
      copies were made and dispatched to different parts of his realm. In 1940 a
      portion of the Cylinder text was discovered in China, which was written on
      horse bones.

      Cyrus is regarded by Iranians as the
      ‘Father’ and
      his Cylinder is prized by them as an emblem of their
      civilisationand it is the most famously referred to and the most internationally recognised
      as the early human rights charter in the world, said Pardis Minuchehr, director
      of the Persian program at George Washington University. “It has a message
      that resonates over centuries and is very inspirational”, he added.

      “Once he had entered the city, Cyrus [the Great] did not burn it to the
      ground (as usually happened with conquered cities in this period) but he freed
      the population from forced labour obligations and allowed the people who had
      been brought to Babylon by the Babylonian kings to return to their homes. By
      this act, he was effectively allowing people to pursue their own religious
      practices”, eloquently described by Neil MacGregor. 

      Dr John Curtis, Keeper of the Middle East collections at the British Museum,
      adds "one of the most iconic objects in the museum," it is a small,
      unremarkable oblong of clay almost 9 inches long and 4 inches in circumference.
      It is battered and broken—and almost half of it is missing—but on
      the cylinder, densely carved, is the new king's manifesto. It offers the
      abolishment of Babylonian slavery and promotes religious freedom.

      Curtis emphasised "no conqueror had ever spoken like this before, so to
      that extent it is the first step toward a declaration of human rights."

      At a gala dinner on Tuesday March 5th, honouring the cylinder’s arrival
      at Washington’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Neil MacGregor emphasised on
      the importance of the ancient Persian artefact saying “more important now
      than ever” for the light it sheds on Iranian history and the guidance it
      provides for dealing with “the great diversity in our

      The charter inscribed on the cylinder is, he said, “the first attempt we
      know about running a society, a state with different nationalities and faiths
      — a new kind of statecraft.”

      This was a revolutionary approach, totally unheard of and a completely new idea
      to the world some twenty six centuries ago – and was not heard again in
      the history of mankind until the establishment of the twentieth century
      democratic societies in Europe and elsewhere. 

      Perhaps today the only country in the world that echoes the past and practices
      Cyrus’s ideas is the United Kingdom – where justice and tolerance
      govern the land, which could be a role model for future Iran.

      Among the many tribes permitted to return to their settlements were the Jews,
      who were allowed to take their statues and ceremonial vessels back to
      Jerusalem, where they were allowed to rebuild their temple. It is a defining
      moment in their history. In the Bible's 2 Chronicles 36:23, which was probably
      composed between 350 and 300 BCE, we are told: "Thus saith Cyrus king of
      Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and
      he hath charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem. . ." That was
      written some 200 years after the proclamation by Cyrus the Great, but it was
      not until a British Museum team in 1879 discovered the cylinder under the walls
      of Babylon that the Jewish account was corroborated.
      Pahlavi II delivers his speech at the 2500 anniversary of the Iranian monarchy at the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great  in 1971.
      Cyrus Cylinder depicted on a postage stamps issued on 12 October 1971 to celebrate the 2,500-year anniversary of the Imperial government in Iran
      Sadeq Khalkhal
      Sadeq Khalkhali and his mentor Ruhollah Khomeini, who shared the same view regarding Cyrus the Great and the ancient Iranian civilisation
      Modern Politics;
      Friends and Foes of Cyrus the Great and his Cylinder
      the Great has been hailed as one of the world’s greatest liberators and
      humanitarians and therefore many have basked in his lustre; His declarations of
      tolerance, justice and religious freedom inspired philosophers and policymakers
      for centuries.

      “Just as Cyrus has long been a role model, the cylinder itself has now
      acquired iconic status for people around the world”, according to Neil

      In Iran, the eulogies heaped upon him at the 2500th commemorative celebrations
      in Iran in 1971, inaugurated by the late Shah if Iran, held in the ancient
      ruins of Persepolis. And in 2010, hoping to regain a measure of legitimacy in
      the wake of a rigged election in 2009, the Islamic Republic’s President
      Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, tried to recast himself as a nationalist leading a
      struggle against foreign foes. More than a million Iranians visited the
      cylinder, in one of the most-viewed exhibits in the Iran's history.

      Since Cyrus the Great freed Jews and encouraged them to return and rebuild
      their temple at Jerusalem, his Cylinder has played a role. It has been
      favourably viewed by many Jewish writers, such as Maurice Leory of
      Brussels’s who described the Cyrus Cylinder as introducing a new and humanitarian
      tone in the world; while, King George V referred to Cyrus in approving the
      Balfour Declaration of 1917 in which the British government said it viewed with
      “favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish
      people.” David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, in the
      context of the foundation of the state of Israel, called the Persian Emperor a
      "Zionist hero." Former US President Harry Truman in consequence have
      exclaimed “I am Cyrus” when he went against the Washington
      establishment consensus and recognised the state of Israel. 

      A replica of the Cyrus Cylinder is also kept at the United Nation Headquarters
      in New York on the second floor hallway between the Security Council and the
      Economic and Social Council chambers. But it is for the first time the real
      ‘Cyrus Cylinder’, travels to the U.S. for a five months tour in
      five major museums, before returning to his home and case at the British Museum
      in London. 
      But not all have basked
      in his lustre, as many have committed to a crusade to tarnish Cyrus’s
      image, by forming a coalition of the Muslim-fundamentalists in Iran and
      Eurocentrics and Neo-Nazis (anti-Semitics) alike in Europe. These extremists,
      which have become to be known as the "the Axis of Prejudice" directly
      or indirectly subscribe to the thoughts of Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali regarding
      Cyrus the Great. Khalkhali was one of the most notorious clerics in Iran who
      was renowned for his brutality and mass executions in post-revolutionary Iran
      that claimed the tile of ‘the hanging judge’ for himself.

      Khalkahali, who was a devoted anti-Semitic, in his book "Cyrus the Despot
      and Liar" published in 1971, called Cyrus the Great "a liar, tyrant
      and a homosexual-Jew Lover". He describes that “Cyrus freeing the
      Jews and rebuilding the temples in Jerusalem as a hoax story, propagated by
      Zionists in order to legitimise the existence of the state of Israel. And if he
      done that, he did it for propaganda." Not surprisingly, Eurocentrics and
      Anti-Semitics in the West are also use the same terminology like the hardliner
      Ayatollah to describe Cyrus – apart from the ‘a Homosexual and a
      Jew-lover’ for the obvious reasons, which would set them in collision
      with the law.

      Since 1979 and the rise of the clerics to power in Iran, the grime has also
      commissioned a number of books to be written by newly and over-night-created
      ‘scholars’, such as Nasser Pourpirar, Abbas Salimi Namin and Hassan
      Abbassi, denouncing Cyrus the Great and pre-Islamic Iranian civilisation
      – a few of them have gone as far as claiming Cyrus the Great is a
      fictional character created by the Israelis and Persepolis was created like
      theatre stage by the Americans.

      In addition, outside Iran, the regime has also hired a number of foreigners to
      attack Cyrus the Great’ historical figure – some of which claim
      Cyrus was not even a Persian. It is alleged, that a well known among them is a
      pseudo-historian who calls himself Jona Lendering, and runs a blog
      that provides the most biased and inaccurate information about pre-Islamic
      Iran. It is believed that the majority of the Wikipedia articles concerning the
      Achaemenid history, particularly those referenced to Cyrus the Great, has been
      edited by Lendering. To back his propaganda, he references all the entries
      – majority back to his blog ‘Livius.org’, or other likeminded
      blogs and websites. It was also alleged a few years ago that the Islamic
      republic has opened an office for him in Central Tehran and put him on their
      pay list for his supererogatory services. To promote himself as a
      ‘historian’, one of his friends even created a page in Wikipedia.
      He also began a hate campaign against those Iranian academics not favoured by
      the Islamic Republic, who are living outside Iran and are expert in Pre-Islamic
      Iranian history, in particular Dr Kaveh Farrokh. Lendering also
      succeeded to influence two prominent European newspapers; Der Spiegeland the Daily Telegraphwhich have fallen
      for his propaganda and began a hate campaign against Cyrus the Great and
      ancient Persia.

      A Persian Rabbi in 2008
      accused Der Spiegelof inciting anti-Semitism and called for a legal action against the editor.
      Rabbi Yohanna Hamadani described the article as a “dark coalition of
      anti-Semitic-Neo-Nazis, [Muslim] fundamentalists and Eurocentrics embodied in
      an article.”

      What will U.S. audiences draw from the Exhibition of “The Cyrus
      Cylinder and Ancient Persia”?
      Those bringing the Cyrus Cylinder to America for the first time, hope some
      of that cultural diplomacy breaks down contemporary barriers, where political
      diplomacy has not.

      Julian Raby, the director of the Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art, the
      Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art, said the show was small in terms of
      numbers of objects but had a big potential impact.

      “One of the goals of this exhibition is to encourage us to reflect that
      relations between Persians and Jews have not always been marked with the
      discord that disfigures the political map of the Near East today,” said
      Julian Raby.

      "We're at a very, very tough moment in terms of how we view Iran and how
      we view Israeli-Iranian relationships. Anything that gets us to reflect on
      these things is, I think, a good thing," he said.

      He noted the Bible refers to Cyrus as “the anointed” of the Lord
      and that philosophers for thousands of years viewed the king as the model of a
      virtuous ruler.

      “This must be one of the chief tasks of our time: to build the global
      community where people of all persuasions, all ethnicities, can look with
      respect at one another’s most sacred traditions and learn to
      co-exist,” said Karen Armstrong, a religious scholar, at the British
      Museum during the send-off of the cylinder to the US.

      Dr Curtis says: "It will be interesting for expatriate Iranians, who hold
      it in special reverence, and also for Jewish groups. Above all, it is helpful
      that Americans should be informed about the very rich cultural legacy of Iran
      and its contribution to the development of world civilisation. People tend to
      think that Iran and other countries in the Middle East don't have any ancient
      history—that it is all intertwined with religious fanaticism. It's good
      to set the record straight." 

      It is expected large number of American and Iranian audiences will flock to see
      the cylinder during the US visit, where it will inevitably provoke comparisons
      with the Bill of Rights.

      The British Museum Director Neil MacGregor said in a recent lecture at TEDGlobal 2011: "It bears
      comparison with the American Constitution, in spite of the [twenty five]
      centuries that divide them, as an historic statement of how a disparate polity
      may be humanely governed."

      He continues, “The cylinder may still have a role to play on the
      international stage today. It advocates -- or can be argued to advocate --
      religious tolerance and acceptance of diversity.”

      The exhibit ‘The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia,’ features
      architectural fragments, carvings and plaques showing the spread of the
      Zoroastrian religion, and luxury objects such as bracelets and gold and silver
      bowls. The show is debuting in D.C. at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler
      Gallery in Washington in March 9 through till April 28. After the display at
      the Sackler gallery, the Cyrus Cylinder 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 will conclude at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa
      in Los Angeles in October.

      The Exhibition is backed by the British museum and is sponsored by members of
      the Iranian diaspora — in particular, the Iran Heritage Foundation.
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