The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning

March 9, 2013 – April 28, 2013

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
1050 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC

Sublevel 1 Floor Plan

Making its US debut is a football-sized, barrel-shaped ancient clay cylinder covered with Babylonian cuneiform, one of the earliest written languages, that announced Cyrus's victory and his intention to allow freedom of worship to communities displaced by the defeated ruler Nabonidus. Under Cyrus (ca. 580-530 BC), the king of Persia, the Persian empire became the largest and most diverse the world had known to that point. His declarations of tolerance, justice, and religious freedom inspired generations of philosphers, policymakers, and leaders, including Alexander the Great and Thomas Jefferson. Also on view are objects—architectural fragments, carved seals, luxury items from the Oxus Treasure—showcasing some of the artistic, cultural, and historical achievements of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC) of Iran.

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