Additional Fragments of the Cyrus Cylinder Text

Additional Fragments of the Cyrus Cylinder Text


Additional Fragments of the Cyrus Cylinder Text - History

Just one look at the Cyrus Cylinder (normally on display at the British Museum, on tour in the United States during 2013), and it is obvious that the celebrated cylinder was badly broken at one point during its existence and pieced together, with roughly one-third of it missing.


Cyrus Cylinder on display at the Asian Museum in San Francisco
(photo by Ali Moayedian - September 8, 2013)

A fairly traditional building foundation deposit, the barrel-shaped small cylinder was expertly made by the Babylonian scribes sometime after the royal city of Babylon, the sophisticated cosmopolitan center of the Babylonian world, fell to the conquering Persians in October of 539 BCE, making it a little over 2,500 years old.

The use of foundation deposits in ancient Near Eastern buildings was nothing new. The practice stretched back to the third millennium BCE and in the early second millennium the kings started to use them as a way to ensure the longevity of their names and their deeds. The foundation deposits became like memorandums of understanding between the kings (their scribes) who wrote them and the gods (their scribes) who read them. When the kings built new palaces or repaired old temples and walls, their scribes wrote their pious deeds on clay (or more precious materials) and made copies and put them in the cornerstones of buildings or niches in the walls.

The foundation deposits were like royal messages in clay bottles floated in a sea of sand. They were meant to be found by other kings. There was an ancient written and unwritten rule that these royal inscriptions were endowed with powerful curses upon anyone who removed them from their resting places and destroyed them.

The formidable King Samsi-Addu (Akkadian: Shamshi-Adad, 1808-1776 BCE), contemporary of the famous Babylonian King Hammurabi (1792-1750 BCE), explicitly described the care and feeding of the foundation deposit inscriptions when he came across the one left in the foundation of the Temple of Ishtar by the Akkadian King Manishtushu (2275-2261 BCE), son of Sargon the Great (Akkadian: Sharru-kin, 2340-2285 BCE):

The monumental inscription and foundation inscriptions of Maništušu I swear I did not remove but restored to their places. I deposited my monumental inscriptions and foundation inscriptions beside his monumental inscriptions and foundation inscriptions. Therefore the goddess Ištar, my lady, has given me a term of rule which is constantly renewed. In the future when the temple becomes old, when Ekituškuga which I have built has become dilapidated, and the king whom the god Enlil appoints to restore it: May he not remove my monumental inscriptions and foundation inscriptions as I did not remove monumental inscriptions and foundation inscriptions of Maništušu but restore them to their places.

Albert Kirk Grayson (1987): Assyrian Rulers of the Third and Second Millennia B.C.

This process of restoration, according to Samsi-Addu, was to anoint the foundation deposit with oil, make a sacrifice and put the object back in its place. Oil probably kept the unbaked clay from drying out and turning into dust while buried.

The imperial Persian builders improved on this ancient practice for their own royal palaces. The foundation deposits found in 1930s from the Apadana Palace in Persepolis (Persian: Parsa), were made of gold and silver and inscribed in Akkadian, Elamite and (Old) Persian with the good words of the Achaemenid Great King Darius I (Persian: Darayavaush, 552-486 BCE) and put in finely made stone boxes along with some coins and placed in the four corners. Two of those boxes and their contents had survived in the southwestern and northeastern corners of Apadana.

The Cyrus Cylinder was found in February-March of 1879 somewhere in the ruins of ancient Babylon (now in modern Iraq) by the local laborers of the Assyrian-British archaeologist Hormuzd Rassam, who excavated on behalf of the British Museum with the permission of the Ottoman Empire.

Hormuzd Rassam (1826-1910) had been the assistant to the legendary British archaeologist Austen Henry Layard (later Sir Henry Layard, 1817-1894) from 1845 to 1851 and had continued excavating until 1854 after Layard had returned to England.

While the Cyrus Cylinder, one of the most celebrated cuneiform objects in the world, was discovered under his watch, the Anglicized Hormuzd Rassam never became famous like his British contemporaries.

The broken clay cylinder did not raise too many eyebrows when it arrived at the British Museum, since broken tablets were (and are) the norm rather than the exception. We bend and break in the normal wear and tear of life, and we don&rsquot expect the things we make to fare any better.


Cyrus Cylinder on display at the Asian Museum in San Francisco
(photo by Ali Moayedian - September 8, 2013)

But what if the Cyrus Cylinder had survived intact for thousands of years and was found in one piece and was broken intentionally afterwards? And if so, who did it, and why?

The intriguing whodunit might sound like pedantic hair-splitting to the public at a time when the popular focus is on the diplomatic meaning of the royal message, especially at a time when it seems we are heading into another war in the Middle East, but it makes a world of difference to the practitioners-the scholars who study such ancient objects to get at the (hi)story of people who did not get around to write one of those sensational tell all historical novels about themselves.

The breathtaking conquest of Babylon turned the relatively obscure Anshanite King Cyrus (Akkadian: Kurash, Persian: Kurush, Greek: Kyros, 559-530 BCE) into the King of (all) the Lands and made Persia into an empire. When that king freed the people held captive in Babylon by the former Babylonian kings, among them the Judean exiles and those Judeans happened to be the scribes of the Hebrew Bible who returned the royal favor, the fame of King Cyrus of Persia became cast in biblical stone, when he received the same title as the Messiah: &ldquoMy anointed&rdquo, the divinely designated deliverer.

From a powerful warrior-king who was the first to bring all the warring kingdoms of known Asia under his command, all the royal inscriptions we have so far are this modest (broken) clay cylinder and a couple of stamped sundried bricks.

The story of the recovery of the Cyrus Cylinder is tightly woven with the history of early (19th century) western excavations in the Near East-later called the Fertile Crescent-that was under the rule of the Turkish Ottoman Empire (1299-1923 CE) at the time.

1842 was the year that had marked the start of excavations in the biblical lands of ancient Near East. And 1850s was the decade when the code of cuneiform script had finally been cracked (1857) by a handful of gifted European scholars using the trilingual inscription of the Achaemenid Great King Darius I at Behestun (now Bisutun in modern Iran)-most famous among them, Englishman Henry Creswicke Rawlinson (later Sir Henry Rawlinson, 1810-1895). And the old rivalry between the English and the French spilled over into a race for ancient Near Eastern antiquities and tablets.

The focus of attention during the years stretching between the mid-1850s and early 1870s had shifted to the study of the cuneiform tablets, chief among them the clay tablet fragments from the amazing Library of the Assyrian King Ashurbanipal (Akkadian: Aššur-bani-apli, 669-631 BCE) that had fallen to into the hands of Layard and Rassam while excavating the Assyrian royal city of Nineveh.

Just as ancient Near East was returning to obscurity after a flurry of western activities, in 1872 Englishman George Smith (1840-1876), a brilliant self-taught Assyriologist working at the British Museum, stumbled upon a broken cuneiform tablet from the Library of Ashurbanipal-now called the &ldquoFlood Tablet&rdquo- that became pivotal in biblical studies and revitalized the western interest in returning to the ancient biblical lands to find more cuneiform tablets that could shed light on the biblical stories.

Amazingly enough, Smith found another fragment of the Flood Tablet in Layard&rsquos old excavation pit in Nineveh, along with over 3,000 tablets and fragments from the royal library of Ashurbanipal between 1873 and 1876. Sadly, on his way back from Nineveh, Smith got sick and died in a small village near Aleppo in Syria.

Roughly around the same time Smith had been excavating in Nineveh in the north, to the dismay of the British Museum thousands of illegally excavated tablets had started to flood the Baghdad antiquities market from the south-among them, the astronomical diaries.

So the British Museum turned to Hormuzd Rassam and he was called out of retirement in 1877 and sent to the Near East with one mission: finding as many cuneiform tablets as possible.

Mosul-born Rassam was fluent in Arabic and Aramaic (commonly called Chaldee) making him popular with the local laborers, but things had changed since the last time he had excavated in the area in early 1850s-the Germans had advanced the methods of excavating ancient structures at Samothrace, the Ottomans had enacted a new antiquities law in 1874, labor costs were higher, and the crude methods used in excavating the stone monuments of Nineveh were not suited to tracing the decayed mud-brick buildings of ancient Babylon buried in shapeless heaps of earth.

As the story goes, during his second act, Rassam was frantically moving between five digging sites of interest in and around Babylon in search of a spectacular find to match the fame of his British predecessors, leaving the daily humdrum supervision of the sites to his local foremen. The work went on even during the months Rassam returned to England each year. So he was not present when the cylinder was found by his nameless diggers-mostly Arab villagers-some of whom (or their kith and kin) had previously worked for Layard and Rassam decades ago.

Without the ability to decipher and read the Akkadian cuneiform signs, Rassam did not know his men had not found just a cuneiform cylinder but &ldquoThe Cyrus Cylinder&rdquo. This was decades before haphazard digging for buried treasures grew into scientific searching for lost peoples and civilizations-modern archaeology.

In the absence of any field records of the finds, not much Rassam could have said with any certainty. The two accounts that he later provided: one in a letter dated 20 November 1879 to Samuel Birch, Keeper (head) of the Oriental Antiquities at the British Museum, and the other in his archaeological memoires Asshur and the Land of Nimrod (New York, 1897) somewhat diverged, so when and where the cylinder was found (find-spot) and in what shape depends on which source you are reading-ranging from Esagila, the temple of Marduk, the chief great god of Babylon in the northern part of the Amran mound, to the great wall of Babylon in the southern part of the mound, called Jumjuma (meaning skull in Arabic) by the locals.

On 28 August, 2013, Dr. Jon Taylor, Assistant Keeper of Cuneiform Collections at the British Museum gave a talk: &ldquoHormuzd Rassam and the Discovery of the Cyrus Cylinder&rdquo to a packed audience at Cal (UC Berkeley). The talk was presented by the Assyrian Heritage Fund and co-sponsored by the Center for the Middle Eastern Studies and the Townsend Center for Humanities. Among the attendees was the elderly great, great, great grandson of one of the brothers of Rassam who had traveled just for the occasion.

To prepare for the talk, Dr. Taylor had resorted to archival research in the vast acquisition registers of the British Museum. Thumbing through old records at the museum, he found out (rather unexpectedly) that the cylinder (identified later as the &ldquoCyrus Cylinder&rdquo by the Assyriologists the British Museum) was listed as &ldquounbroken&rdquo in boring bureaucratic documents, leading him to speculate that the cylinder was most likely broken (perhaps intentionally) before it was shipped to London.

Intense western interest in eastern biblical lands and peoples in the 19th century did not just lead to spectacular discoveries of ancient civilizations, it sparked a lively global trade in ancient artifacts procured in a &ldquodon&rsquot ask, don&rsquot tell&rdquo manner. Since 1850s illicit diggings for antiquities that institutions and individuals are willing to pay good money for have progressed in the Middle East without any sign of decline. Local laborers usually got paid literally pennies for each inscribed tablet they dug up, so it was not unusual for them or actually anyone in the antiquities supply-chain to break clay tablets they found into pieces to increase their meager pay and sell the &ldquosurplus&rdquo to Baghdad dealers.

Dr. Taylor prepared a list of the usual suspects who had access and motive to break the unbroken cylinder, and like a clever crime novel detective eliminated all but two, one of them Daud (Fat) Toma, one of overseers Rassam had hired-not deemed trustworthy even by Rassam himself.

We would never know without a shadow of a doubt, but we can safely say that the real culprit was the insatiable black market for antiquities.

So the broken Cyrus Cylinder gives us a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes realities of the brutal business of early Near Eastern archaeology at the time of its recovery.

The fragments of the Cyrus Cylinder were joined by the conservators at the British Museum, forming a larger fragment known as Fragment A. Another fragment (known as Fragment B) remained on the antiquities market in the Middle East for a couple of decades until it was acquired by Dr. James Nies and given to the Yale University around 1920. The Yale Fragment was identified as a piece of the Cyrus Cylinder in 1970, and the British Museum Fragment A and the Yale Fragment B were joined in 1971.

Whether the missing piece(s) turned into rubble when the cylinder was broken, or the fragments were sold to other museums or private collectors remains a mystery. But one of the unintended consequences has been speculation about the &ldquomissing lines&rdquo and their content-taken to the extremes of &ldquoPersianizing&rdquo the Babylonian object with the addition of fanciful translations for non-existing lines!

Scanning the Cyrus Cylinder and creating a virtual 3-Dimensional model of it could become a great tool for Assyriologists who could easily place the surviving royal inscription on the full flattened image of the cylinder and discuss the process of educated guessing and filling in the gaps-all the letters and words in square brackets in various translations-combining the knowledge gained from the vast corpus of Akkadian texts with modern technology.

Dr. Taylor also narrowed the find-spot of the Cyrus Cylinder to the south-west junction of the great (inner) wall of Babylon, called Imgur Enlil, and the quay wall on the bank of Euphrates River, using the account of an American traveler who was told in 1880 by the locals that the cylinder was found in a niche in a wall-consistent with the inscription on the cylinder, as translated by Dr. Irving Finkel from the British Museum (2013):

Line 38. I strove to strengthen the defenses of the wall Imgur-Enlil, the great wall of Babylon,

Line 39. and [I completed] the quay of baked brick on the bank of the moat which an earlier king had bu[ilt but not com]pleted its work.

Line 40. [I . which did not surround the city] outside, which no earlier king had built, his workforce, the levee [from his land, in/int]o Shuanna.

The date of the discovery of the cylinder was further narrowed by Dr. Taylor to the week of March 17-23-the week of spring vernal equinox, when both the Babylonian New Year Festival (Akitu) and the Persian New Year Festival were celebrated.

That would have pleased both the Babylonian great god Marduk and the Persian Great King Cyrus.

About the author: A.J. Cave is the author of Cyrus 0.9: Highlander, a preview of her upcoming novel about Cyrus the Great.


Cyrus Cylinder on display at the Asian Museum in San Francisco
(photo by Ali Moayedian - September 8, 2013)

Related Articles:

Cyrus Cylinder U.S. Tour Culminates At The Getty Villa This Fall - On loan from the British Museum, The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning will conclude its highly successful U.S. tour at the Getty Villa beginning October 2 and continuing through December 2, 2013. The tour began in the nation's capital at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and traveled to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, before its final showing in Los Angeles. 8/22/13

Catching up with the Cyrus Cylinder - Following in the footsteps of the Cyrus Cylinder trekking through five museums in the United States, we have reached the mid-point in Manhattan. So let's pause for a commercial break and see how far this iconic object has come, as we eagerly await its arrival on the West Coast. -A.J. Cave 7/19/13

Ancient Persian Ruler Influenced Thomas Jefferson, U.S. Democracy - The discovery of the Cyrus Cylinder was a hundred years in the future when Thomas Jefferson and other founders of the United States adopted the progressive ideas of the ancient Persian ruler Cyrus the Great. They knew of Cyrus through classical Greek writers and Biblical accounts. -Lea Terhune, IIP 03/17/13

Cyrus Cylinder: Ancient Persia Foreshadowed Modern Values - The Cyrus Cylinder has left its British Museum repository for its first U.S. tour, beginning at the Smithsonian Institution's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington. "The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia" showcases this 2,600-year-old archeological treasure amid other artifacts from the Achaemenid Empire (550-331 B.C.) founded by the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great. -Lea Terhune, IIP 03/13/13

The Cyrus Cylinder Tour Of The United States: Washington, Houston, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles -- March-December 2013 - The Cyrus Cylinder will be on display in an exhibition entitled "The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning." This touring exhibition is organised by the British Museum in partnership with the Iran Heritage Foundation (IHF) and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, and in collaboration with four other major museums. 02/23/13

Cyrus, Ben-Gurion and Ben-Zion - By all accounts. Cyrus was a magnanimous man and the archetype of a wise ruler. The policies that he introduced did indeed promote religious tolerance, and the right for communities to live according to their own laws and beliefs. What Cyrus promoted is a model to be emulated and not criticized. One must be grateful that Neil MacGregor delivered his TED talk, and is allowing the Cyrus Cylinder to tour the United States of America. -Abolala Soudavar 02/20/13


Writing on the wall and the Cyrus Cylinder

According to the Book of Daniel, the Babylonian King Belshazzar held a great feast for thousands of lords. King Belshazzar and his lords proudly drank wine from the sacred gold and silver vessels that they had plundered from the temple at Jerusalem. They praised gods made from gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. These were gods made from materials indiscriminately ranging from highly precious to most common.

But then a disembodied man’s hand appeared. Its fingers wrote on the wall: “mene, mene, tekel, peres.” Those Aramaic words represented measures of currency. The Jewish captive Daniel interpreted those words for Balshazzar:

Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end. Tekel, you have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians. [1]

Daniel’s interpretation echoed the Egyptian weighing of the heart in an other-worldly judgment. Belshazzar’s merit did not meet the required weight. That very night, the Persians captured Babylon and killed Belshazzar.

The Cyrus Cylinder, now on exhibit at the Sackler Gallery, is a physical artifact interacting with Daniel’s story of Belshazzar. The Cyrus Cylinder documents and legitimates the Persian King Cyrus’s conquest of Babylon without a battle about the time of King Belshazzar.[2] The Cyrus Cylinder describes the bad deeds of the Babylonian king, declares Cyrus’s divine mandate to overthrow him, and records Cyrus’s order that peoples and their sacred objects (gods) be returned to their home places. Both Hebrew scripture and classical Greek texts celebrate Cyrus as a great and just ruler who upheld within his vast Persian empire important freedoms.[3]

The form of writing helps to give it authority. A disembodied hand writing on the wall isn’t the action of a human person. It suggests the hand of god. The Cyrus Cylinder’s cylindrical shape gives it the authority of a personal seal. Persian kings used small cylindrical seals.[4] Relative to a king’s seal, the football-sized Cyrus Cylinder is a monumental seal declaring Cyrus’s identity through his conquest of Babylon, his rebuilding of it, and his righteous behavior towards its residents and captives. The Sackler exhibit includes fragments of Cyrus’s text from a contemporaneous tablet. The Cyrus tablet surely served a less politically important communicative function than the Cyrus Cylinder.

The writing on the wall means that God acts in history to bring about justice and freedom. If you cannot believe that, then hear this: the writing on the wall means that tablets, cylinders, and communicative devices of many other forms will proliferate. That prophecy cannot be doubted.

The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning is on display at the Sackler Gallery through April 28, 2013. Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, gave an excellent TED talk on the Cyrus Cylinder. Here’s an English translation of the surviving Cyrus text.

[1] Daniel 5:26-28. Daniel’s interpretation invokes passive verbs — numbered, weighed, divided — related linguistically to the currency weights.

[2] While the Book of Daniel describes Belshazzar as the son of Nebuchadnezzar, other records (the Nabonidus Chronicle and the Nabonidus Cylinder) indicate that Belshazzar was the son of King Nabonidus. Belshazzar acted as regent for King Nabonidus while Nabonidus was outside Babylon. The Cyrus Cylinder declares that Marduk (the Zoroastrian god) delivered Nabonidus to Cyrus without a battle. Cyrus text, l. 17. The Book of Daniel describes the conqueror of Babylon as “Darius the Mede.” That name is not otherwise known. Despite these specific referential problems, the Book of Daniel’s description of Belshazzar and his fate plausibly refers to the Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 BGC.

[3] Isaiah 44:28-45:6, 2 Chronicles 36:20-23, Ezra 1:1-11, 6:3-5 Xenophon, Cyropaedia and its subsequent Greek admirers. The surviving Cyrus text is similar to other Babylon decrees of conquest and rebuilding. See Kuhrt (1983). The ancient reputation of Cyrus, however, indicates that his actions were perceived as distinctive. Thomas Jefferson’s library included two copies of Xenophon’s Cyropaedia.

[4] The Darius seal is on display in the exhibit. It’s also the second item in the exhibit slideshow.

[images] The Cyrus Cylinder. Clay, Babylon, Mesopotamia, after 539 BCE. D x H: 7.8 – 10 x 21.9 – 22.8 cm British Museum, London, ME 90920. Photo: ©The Trustees of the British Museum, courtesy of the Sackler Gallery Press Office. Cropped version of “The hand-writing upon the wall.” Js. Gillray, published Aug. 24, 1803, London.

Kuhrt, Amélie. 1983. “The Cyrus Cylinder and Achaemenid Imperial Policy.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament. 8 (25): 83-97.


The DSf Foundation Inscription of Darius

The book of Esther begins with the great feast that Ahasuerus (called Xerxes in Greek) gave for all of his officials and servants at Susa, one of the four Persian capitals. The biblical text describes the splendor of the palace garden at Susa this way:

And when these days were completed, the king gave for all the people present in Susa the citadel, both great and small, a feast lasting for seven days in the court of the garden of the king’s palace. There were white cotton curtains and violet hangings fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rods and marble pillars, and also couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and precious stones. (Esther 1:5-6 ESV).

The palace at Susa was constructed by Xerxes’s father, Darius. The foundation deposit inscriptions at the palace at Susa were discovered in three languages: Old Persian, Akkadian and Elamite. 3 Known as the DSf, these foundation inscriptions describe the splendor of the palace in a way that is similar to the biblical description:

The palace which I built at Susa, from afar its ornamentation was brought…the cedar timber, this – a mountain named Lebanon – from there was brought. The Assyrian people, it brought to Babylon from Babylon the Carians and the Ionians brought it to Susa. The yaka-timber was borught from Gandhara and from Carmania. The gold was brought from Sardis and from Bactria, from here was wrought. The precious stone lapis-lazuli and carnelian which was wrought here, this was brought from Sogdiana. The precious stone turquoise, this was brought from Chorasmia, which was wrought here. The silver and the ebony were brought from Egypt. The ornamentation with which the wall was adorned, that from Ionia was brought. The ivory which was wrought here, was brought from Ethiopia and from Sind and from Arachosia. The stone columns which were wrought, a village by name Abiradu in Elam – from there were brought. The stone-cutters who wroght the stone, those were Ionians and Sardians….Saith Darius the King: At Susa a very excellent work was ordered, a very excellent work was brought to completion. 4

One can easily see the similarities in the descriptions of great wealth and splendor of the king’s palace: stone columns of marble, precious stones, precious metals, etc. Scholars have noted that the writer of the book of Esther must have been familiar with the Persian palace at Susa during the time period described in the book of Esther.

The DSf, a foundation tablet from the Susa, describes how King Darius built his palace. This tablet is written in Old Persian. Photo Credit: Jona Lendering, https://www.livius.org/pictures/iran/susa/susa-apadana/susa-dsf-old-persian/


Additional Fragments of the Cyrus Cylinder Text - History

The document has been hailed as the first charter of human rights, and in 1971 the United Nations was published translation of it in all the official U.N. languages. "May Ahura Mazda protect this land, this nation, from rancor, from foes, from falsehood, and from drought". Selected from the book "The Eternal Land".

I am Cyrus.
King of the world. When I entered Babylon. I did not allow anyone to terrorise the land. I kept in view the needs of Babylon and all its sanctuaries to promote their well-being. I put an end to their misfortune.

From The First Charter of the Rights of Nations

Cyrus The Great

Cyrus (580-529 BC) was the first Achaemenid Emperor. He founded Persia by uniting the two original Iranian Tribes- the Medes and the Persians. Although he was known to be a great conqueror, who at one point controlled one of the greatest Empires ever seen, he is best remembered for his unprecedented tolerance and magnanimous attitude towards those he defeated.

Upon his victory over the Medes, he founded a government for his new kingdom, incorporating both Median and Persian nobles as civilian officials. The conquest of Asia Minor completed, he led his armies to the eastern frontiers. Hyrcania and Parthia were already part of the Median Kingdom. Further east, he conquered Drangiana, Arachosia, Margiana and Bactria. After crossing the Oxus, he reached the Jaxartes, where he built fortified towns with the object of defending the farthest frontier of his kingdom against nomadic tribes of Central Asia.

At my deeds Marduk, the great lord, rejoiced and to me, Kourosh (Cyrus), the king who worshipped him, and to Camboujiyah (Cambyases), my son, the offspring of (my) loins, and to all my troops he graciously gave his blessing, and in good sprit before him we glorified exceedingly his high divinity. All the kings who sat in throne rooms, throughout the four quarters, from the Upper to the Lower Sea, those who dwelt in . all the kings of the West Country, who dwelt in tents, brought me their heavy tribute and kissed my feet in Babylon. From . to the cities of Ashur, Susa, Agade and Eshnuna, the cities of Zamban, Meurnu, Der as far as the region of the land of Gutium, the holy cities beyond the Tigris whose sanctuaries had been in ruins over a long period, the gods whose abode is in the midst of them, I returned to their places and housed them in lasting abodes. I gathered together all their inhabitations and restored (to them) their dwellings. The gods of Sumer and Akkad whom Nabounids had, to the anger of the lord of the gods, brought into Babylon. I, at the bidding of Marduk, the great lord, made to dwell in peace in their habitations, delightful abodes. May all the gods whom I have placed within their sanctuaries address a daily prayer in my favour before Bel and Nabu, that my days may be long, and may they say to Marduk my lord, "May Kourosh (Cyrus) the King, who reveres thee, and Camboujiyah (Cambyases) his son . "

He also declared the first Charter of Human Rights known to mankind, which is written on a clay cylinder:

"I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king, mighty king, king of Babylon, king of the land of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters, son of Cambyses, great king, king of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus, great king, king of Anshan, descendant of Teispes, great king, king of Anshan, progeny of an unending royal line, whose rule Bel and Nabu cherish, whose kingship they desire for their hearts' pleasures.

When I, well-disposed, entered Babylon, I established the seat of government in the royal palace amidst jubilation and rejoicing. Marduk, the great God, caused the big-hearted inhabitants of Babylon to. me. I sought daily to worship him. My numerous troops moved about undisturbed in the midst of Babylon.

I did not allow any to terrorize the land of Sumer and Akkad. I kept in view the needs of Babylon and all its sanctuaries to promote their well-being. The citizens of Babylon. I lifted their unbecoming yoke. Their dilapidated dwellings I restored. I put an end to their misfortunes.

At my deeds Marduk, the great Lord, rejoiced, and to me, Cyrus, the king who worshipped, and to Cambyses, my son, the offspring of my loins, and to all my troops, he graciously gave his blessing, and in good spirit is before him we/glorified/exceedingly his high divinity.

All the kings who sat in the throne rooms, throughout the four quarters, from the Upper to the Lower Sea, those who dwelt in . all the kings of the West Country who dwelt in tents, brought me their heavy tribute and kissed my feet in Babylon. From . to the cities of Ashur and Susa, Agade, Eshnuna, the cities of Zamban, Meurnu, Der, as far as the region of the land of Gutium, the holy cities beyond the Tigris whose sanctuaries had been in ruins over a long period, the Gods whose abode is in the midst of them. I returned to the places and housed them in lasting abodes. I gathered together all their inhabitants and restored to them their dwellings. The Gods of Sumer and Akkad whom Nabonidus had, to the anger of the Lord of the Gods, brought into Babylon, I at the bidding of Marduk, the great Lord made to dwell in peace in their habitations, delightful abodes.

May all the gods whom I have placed within their sanctuaries address a daily prayer in my favour before Bel and Nabu, that my days may long, and may they say to Marduk my Lord, May Cyrus the King who reveres thee, and Cambyses his son . "

Iran to celebrate Cyrus's birthday - October 29 - Cyrus Day

The ceremony will be held to highlight the historical magnificence of Persepolis and examine the numerous existing legends about Cyrus.

The event will be attended by researchers and historians who will deliver speeches about the history of Fars Province and the Achaemenid dynasty.

Cyrus the Great (529-580 BC) united the two original Iranian Tribes- the Medes and the Persians.

Cyrus is best remembered for his great tolerance and noble attitude towards the conquered nations. He is also famous for the declaration of the first Charter of Human Rights.

He is buried in Pasargade, 70 kilometers north of Persepolis in Fars.

Happy Cyrus Day - Oct 29, 2007

Cyrus the Great proclaimed more than 2500 years ago: "Today, I announce that everyone is free to choose a religion. People are free to live in all regions and take up a job provided that they never violate other's rights." Cyrus the Great declared himself not a conqueror, but a liberator and the rightful successor to the crown.

The ancient world held universal admiration for the beliefs and practices of the Persians as enshrined in the Cyrus Charter of Human Rights. Even the Greeks, the traditional adversaries of the Persians, called Cyrus "The Lawgiver". History has recorded that Cyrus did accomplish the task for which he was foreordained.

Alexander the Great plundered Persia. He destroyed and burned Persepolis, the magnificent palace complex of the Achaemenid kings in the province of Pars. Yet, Alexander paid tribute to Cyrus the Great at his tomb. This shows how much Cyrus the Great was respected, even in the eyes of his fierce enemies.

Cyrus the Great has been given many names: Cyrus the enlightened liberator, Cyrus the benevolent, Cyrus the Law-giver, Cyrus the righteous, Cyrus the heroic conqueror, Cyrus the tolerant King, and many more. No other man so far back in ancient history had been showered with such accolades by kings and emperors who knew of him only by reputation.

Cyrus the Great is the founding father of Persia and the mighty Persian Empire . perhaps the most exemplary, magnificent and just king the world has ever seen.

An illustration of the benevolent beliefs and practices launched by this unsurpassed historical figure goes back to the landmark action of King Cyrus the Great of Persia. In 539 B.C., having conquered Babylon, the benevolent King Cyrus freed the Jews from captivity and empowered them to return to the Promised Land and build their temple.

For his acts of kindness, Cyrus the Great is immortalized in the Bible in several passages and called "the anointed of the Lord". The Jews, throughout recorded history, looked to Cyrus' people, the Iranians, as their friends and protectors against oppressors such as the Seleucids and the Romans.

In the book of Isaiah, Cyrus, the King of Persia, a non-Jew was called the "mash'aka" God, according to Isaiah when he wrote: .Thus said the Lord to his 'mash'aka (anointed), to Cyrus. (Isaiah 45:1). Jeremiah also told that Cyrus was commissioned by God to go to Jerusalem and build the Second Temple.

"Who carry the vessels of the Lord" (v. 11b). Ezra tells the story of the departure of the exiles from Babylonia: "King Cyrus himself brought out the vessels of the house of the LORD that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods" (Ezra 1:7).

"This says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whom I have seized by the right, to subdue nations before him. Yes, I will open the loins of kings, to open the two-leaved doors before him, and the gates shall not be shut. I will go before you and make hills level I will tear apart the bronze doors and cut the iron bars in two. And I will give you the treasures of darkness, even treasures in secret places, that you may know that I am the Lord who calls you by your name, I the God of Israel" (vs.1-3 Para.)..

To Cyrus the Great, humanity was one widely dispersed family. He believed in this tenet long before unequivocal genetic findings clearly established that biologically there is only one human race that the genetic variation within a single troop of chimpanzees, for instance, is greater than that of any two human groupings, no matter how different they may appear physically.

The British Museum presented an extensive "The Persian Empire Gallery" in 2005. After the well recieved gallery, the Charter of the Rights of the Nations, known as Cyrus Charter of Rights of Nations Cylinder, was loaned to the National Museum of Iran for three months for display in Tehran.

British Museum in battle with Iran over ancient 'charter of rights'

The Iranian government has threatened to "sever all cultural relations" with Britain unless the artefact is sent to Tehran immediately. Museum director Neil MacGregor has been accused by an Iranian vice-president of "wasting time" and "making excuses" not to make the loan of the 2,500-year-old clay object, as was agreed last year. The museum says that two newly discovered clay fragments hold the key to an important new understanding of the cylinder and need to be studied in London for at least six months.

The pieces of clay, inscribed in the world's oldest written language, look like "nothing more than dog biscuits", says MacGregor. Since being discovered at the end of last year, they have revealed verbatim copies of the proclamation made by Persian king Cyrus the Great, as recorded on the cylinder. The artefact itself was broken when it was excavated from the remains of Babylon in 1879. Curators say the new fragments are the missing pieces of an ancient jigsaw puzzle. Irving Finkel, curator in the museum's ancient near east department, said he "nearly had a coronary" when he realised what he had in his hands. "We always thought the Cyrus cylinder was unique," he said. "No one had even imagined that copies of the text might have been made, let alone that bits of it have been here all along."

Finkel must now trawl through 130,000 objects, housed in hundreds of floor-to ceiling shelving units. His task is to locate other fragments inscribed with Cyrus's words. The aim is to complete the missing sections of one of history's most important political documents. The Iranians have been planning to host a major exhibition of the Cyrus cylinder ever since MacGregor signed a loan agreement in Tehran in January 2009. I was in Iran with the museum director, reporting for BBC Radio 4 on his mission of cultural diplomacy.

Six months before pro-democracy protests were met with violence in the wake of the presidential election, tea and sweet pastries were offered to the British guests at the Iranian cultural heritage ministry. MacGregor was there to meet Hamid Baqaei, a vice-president and close ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Their friendly discussion was a significant diplomatic breakthrough at a time when tensions between Britain and Iran had been strained to breaking point after the expulsion of British Council representatives from Tehran. The recent launch of the BBC Persian television service had also been interpreted as a provocation by London.

With even the British ambassador in Tehran struggling to maintain a dialogue, MacGregor was the sole conduit of bilateral exchange in January 2009. The sight of a miniature union flag standing alongside the Iranian flag on the table between the British Museum boss and his Iranian counterparts boded well for an amicable meeting. In previous weeks, the only British flags seen in public in Tehran were those being burned on the streets outside the embassy. MacGregor's objective was to secure the loan of treasures from Iranian palaces, mosques and museums for the museum's exhibition on the life and times of 16th-century ruler Shah Abbas. Discussions over the loan of treasures relating to one great Persian leader prompted the suggestion that another – Cyrus – could play a part in a reciprocal deal. MacGregor may have been put on the spot by Baqaei, but he agreed to a three-month loan by the end of 2009. A year later, Baqaei's tone towards MacGregor is not so friendly. Quoted by the Fars news agency in Iran, he accused the museum of "acting politically". Further "British procrastination" would result in a "serious response" from Iran.

The Cyrus cylinder remains a compelling political tract more than two and half millennia after its creation. Accepting her Nobel peace prize in 2003, the Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi cited Cyrus as a leader who "guaranteed freedoms for all". She hailed his charter as "one of the most important documents that should be studied in the history of human rights". In 2006, the then foreign secretary, Jack Straw contrasted the freeing of Jewish slaves by Cyrus with Ahmadinejad's "sickening calls for Israel to be wiped from the face of the map".

David Miliband, the current foreign secretary, has yet to reflect on the contemporary resonance of Cyrus in a country in which human rights have been violently curtailed of late. But a spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "It is a shame that the British Museum has felt compelled to make this decision." She added that "we share the British Museum's concern that this would not be a good time for the cylinder to come to Iran" owing to the "unsettled" situation in the country. Last week MacGregor presided over a launch, at the British Museum, of the History of the World in 100 Objects, his collaborative project with the BBC. The director is presenting a 100-part series on Radio 4, in which the story of mankind is told through individual artefacts. The Cyrus cylinder was considered for inclusion, but did not make the final hundred. Some guests at the launch, when told how the discovery of the new fragments had delayed the loan of the Cyrus cylinder, were suspicious. "Fancy that, what a stroke of luck," said one. "That gets Neil out of a jam for now."


The Cyrus Cylinder as Design Object

It’s been likened to a football and a corncob for its unusual shape and diminutive size. The Cyrus Cylinder is one of the ancient world’s most important historical documents, but it’s also one that prompts a very basic question: Why is it shaped that way?

One answer comes from history. The barrel-shaped form was commonly used in ancient Mesopotamia for foundation deposits—inscriptions buried under significant structures such as city walls or temples. As a foreign conqueror, Cyrus used the cylinder shape to affirm his respect for local tradition.

But still the question remains: What does the cylindrical shape signify? For the answer we turned to Dr. John Curtis, Keeper of Special Middle East Projects at the British Museum, who wrote the book on the subject.

Dr. John Curtis in the galleries of The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia at the Getty Villa

Why is the Cyrus Cylinder shaped the way it is?
There’s no agreement about this, but I think it’s shaped that way because the text never starts and never finishes. It’s endlessly revolving. You come to the end and go seamlessly again onto the beginning. It’s a rather ingenious thing, really. It’s a different concept from a sheet of paper, with a start here and a finish there.

If the Cyrus Cylinder never ends, what are the implications for its meaning?
I think it gives more majesty and authority to the document itself. Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s why they did it in that way—rather than on a tablet.

What’s also interesting is that, even though it’s meant to be read by turning, when you stand in front of it, you’re looking at it “right way up.” If you go around to the back of the case, you’re looking at it upside down. You see what I mean?

This explains why the Cyrus Cylinder has a “front” and a “back.”
A number of people have said to me, if they look at it from the other side, “Why is it exhibited upside down?”

The Cyrus Cylinder, seen from the back, during installation at the Getty Villa. Achaemenid, after 539 B.C. Terracotta, 22.9 x 10 cm. The British Museum

So the Cylinder was meant to be read before it was buried?
It was a multipurpose thing, really. It’s partly a religious document, and was buried to ask for the ongoing protection of the god of Babylon. But at the same time, we know it contains a proclamation, and [recently discovered] tablet fragments make clear that there were copies of it sent all around the Persian Empire.

I think it’s very likely that there were other cylinders buried by Cyrus in Babylon—it’s just that they haven’t been found yet.

See the Cyrus Cylinder from front, back, and side at the Getty Villa through December 8.


Additional Fragments of the Cyrus Cylinder Text - History

An Iranian archaeologist believes that more studies are needed to prove the authenticity of alleged extracts from the Cyrus Cylinder carved on two bone fragments found in China.

"We should wait patiently for in-depth studies by experts on ancient languages and other laboratory research to confirm the genuineness of the objects," Kamyar Abdi told the Persian service of CHN on Saturday.

"If the objects are proven authentic, the discovery will begin to transform our knowledge about relations between the Near East, especially the Achaemenid Empire, and China during the first millennium, in particular during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-221 BC)," he added

The discovery will also extend back the history of relations between China and Iran. Until the discovery, it was believed that political relations between Iran and China dated back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC-221 CE) in China and the Parthian dynasty in Iran.

"The Cyrus Cylinder had undoubtedly been important for the people living under the Achaemenid Empire, but, if the objects are proved authentic, the first question would be how the Cyrus text had been transferred to China and why the text was important enough for the Chinese to copy it," he stated.

Considered the world's first declaration of human rights, the Cyrus Cylinder is a document issued by the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great in the form of a clay cylinder inscribed in Akkadian cuneiform script.

The cylinder was created following the Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, when Cyrus overthrew the Babylonian king Nabonidus and replaced him as ruler, ending the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

The text of the cylinder denounces Nabonidus as impious and portrays the victorious Cyrus as pleasing to the chief Babylonian god Marduk.

It goes on to describe how Cyrus had improved the lives of the citizens of Babylonia, repatriated displaced peoples and restored temples and cult sanctuaries.

The cylinder was discovered in 1879 by the Assyro-British archaeologist Hormuz Rassam in the foundations of the Esagila, the main temple of Babylon. Today, it is kept in the British Museum in London.

Two fossilized horse bones bearing cuneiform inscriptions, which are extracts from the text of the Cyrus Cylinder, have recently been discovered in China, the London-based Art Newspaper reported last week.

The objects seem to be genuine based on research by British Museum specialist Irving Finkel.

The texts inexplicably have fewer than one in every 20 of the Cyrus text's cuneiform signs transcribed, although they are in the correct order, Finkel said.

The bones had been donated to the Beijing Palace Museum in 1985 by deceased Chinese traditional doctor Xue Shenwei, who bought the artifacts in 1935 and 1940.

Two years after the donation of the objects, specialist Wu Yuhong realized that the text of the first bone came from the Cyrus proclamation, but the text of the second was not yet identified.

In January 2010, two fragments of a clay tablet with inscriptions of part of the text of the Cyrus proclamation were found in the British Museum's collection.

Afterwards, experts hypothesized that the Cyrus proclamation might have been widely copied during ancient times.

Thus, Finkel conducted an in-depth study on the pair of Chinese bones to determine whether they might be authentic.

Based on existing photographs, he learned that the text on the second bone was also from the Cyrus proclamation, and requested more information from Beijing.

Chinese Assyriologist Yushu Gong provided a much better image of the text and took the photos to the British Museum for a workshop that was held on June 23-24.

"The text used by the copier on the bones was not the Cyrus Cylinder, but another version, probably originally written in Persia, rather than Babylon," Finkel said.

He surmised that it could have been a version carved on stone, written with ink on leather, or inscribed on a clay tablet. Most likely, the original object was sent during the reign of Cyrus to the far east of his empire, in the west of present-day China.

There was some skepticism among the scholars attending the workshop, but Finkel believes that the evidence is "completely compelling".

He is convinced that the bones have been copied from an authentic version of the Cyrus proclamation, although it is unclear at what point in the past 2,500 years the copying was done.


What is the Cyrus Cylinder?

The Cyrus Cylinder has been called “the first declaration of human rights.” It is a barrel-shaped baked clay cylinder, and despite popular belief it’s not a big object: It’s about 23cm long and 10cm wide.

This clay cylinder is inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform – a form of wedge-shaped writing – about Cyrus, king of Persia (559-530 BC) and his conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, capturing Nabonidus, the last Babylonian king. The cylinder was discovered more than 130 years ago in the ruins of Babylon in Iraq. It was excavated in several fragments. The cylinder was glued together straight away, and was read by Theophilus Pinches and Henry Rawlinson at the British Museum.

The text on the Cylinder is a declaration about the Iran/Iraq war – not the one that started in 1980, but the one in 539 B.C., in the name of the Achaemenid king Cyrus the Great, resulting in the conquest of Babylon in 539. It establishes Cyrus as a king from a lineage of kings, and denounces the previous king of Babylon, but then it talks about peace.

It tells how the god of Babylon – the conquered land – has chosen Cyrus to improve the lives of the Babylonians, and it talks about Cyrus’s efforts in repatriating displaced people and restoring temples across Mesopotamia, letting them worship the god of their choice, not the god of the conqueror. It tells the story of letting people living their lives even after their country was conquered, something that was not heard of at the time. In the ancient world and many years to come, conquering a new land would mean “owning” the land and its people.

Cyrus claims to have achieved this with the aid of Marduk, the god of Babylon. He then describes measures of relief he brought to the inhabitants of the city, and tells how he returned a number of images of gods, which Nabonidus had collected in Babylon, to their proper temples throughout Mesopotamia and western Iran. At the same time he arranged for the restoration of these temples, and organized the return to their homelands of a number of people who had been held in Babylonia by the Babylonian kings. Although the Jews are not mentioned in this document, their return to Palestine following their deportation by Nebuchadnezzar II, was part of this policy.

This cylinder has sometimes been described as the ‘first charter of human rights’, but it in fact reflects a long tradition in Mesopotamia where, from as early as the third millennium BC, kings began their reigns with declarations of reforms.


Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume VI/Julius Africanus/Extant Fragments of the Chronography/Part 13

1. Up to the time of the Olympiads there is no certain history among the Greeks, all things before that date being confused, and in no way consistent with each other. But these Olympiads were thoroughly investigated [2] by many, as the Greeks made up the records of their history not according to long spaces, but in periods of four years. For which reason I shall select the most remarkable of the mythical narratives before the time of the first Olympiad, and rapidly run over them. But those after that period, at least those that are notable, I shall take together, Hebrew events in connection with Greek, according to their dates, examining carefully the affairs of the Hebrews, and touching more cursorily on those of the Greeks and my plan will be as follows: Taking up some single event in Hebrew history synchronous with another in Greek history, and keeping by it as the main subject, subtracting or adding as may seem needful in the narrative, I shall note what Greek or Persian of note, or remarkable personage of any other nationality, flourished at the date of that event in Hebrew history and thus I may perhaps attain the object which I propose to myself.

2. The most famous exile that befell the Hebrews, then—to wit, when they were led captive by Nabuchodonosor king of Babylon—lasted 70 years, as Jeremias had prophesied. Berosus the Babylonian, moreover, makes mention of Nabuchodonosor. And after the 70 years of captivity, Cyrus became king of the Persians at the time of the 55th Olympiad, as may be ascertained from the Bibliothecæ of Diodorus and the histories of Thallus and Castor, and also from Polybius and Phlegon, and others besides these, who have made the Olympiads a subject of study. For the date is a matter of agreement among them all. And Cyrus then, in the first year of his reign, which was the first year of the 55th Olympiad, effected the first partial restoration of the people by the hand of Zorobabel, with whom also was Jesus the son of Josedec, since the period of 70 years was now fulfilled, as is narrated in Esdra the Hebrew historian. The narratives of the beginning of the sovereignty of Cyrus and the end of the captivity accordingly coincide. And thus, according to the reckoning of the Olympiads, there will be found a like harmony of events even to our time. And by following this, we shall also make the other narratives fit in with each other in the same manner.

3. But if the Attic time-reckoning is taken as the standard for affairs prior to these, then from Ogygus, who was believed by them to be an autochthon, in whose time also the first great flood took place in Attica, while Phoroneus reigned over the Argives, as Acusilaus relates, up to the date of the first Olympiad, from which period the Greeks thought they could fix dates accurately, there are altogether 1020 years which number both coincides with the above-mentioned, and will be established by what follows. For these things are also recorded by the Athenian [3] historians Hellanicus and Philochorus, who record Attic affairs and by Castor and Thallus, who record Syrian affairs and by Diodorus, who writes a universal history in his Bibliothecæ and by Alexander Polyhistor, and by some of our own time, yet more carefully, and [4] by all the Attic writers. Whatever narrative of note, therefore, meets us in these 1020 years, shall be given in its proper place.

4. In accordance with this writing, therefore, we affirm that Ogygus, who gave his name to the first flood, and was saved when many perished, lived at the time of the exodus of the people from Egypt along with Moses. [5] And this we make out in the following manner. From Ogygus up to the first Olympiad already mentioned, it will be shown that there are 1020 years and from the first Olympiad to the first year of the 55th, that is the first year of King Cyrus, which was also the end of the captivity, are 217 years. From Ogygus, therefore, to Cyrus are 1237. And if one carries the calculation backwards from the end of the captivity, there are 1237 years. Thus, by analysis, the same period is found to the first year of the exodus of Israel under Moses from Egypt, as from the 55th Olympiad to Ogygus, who founded Eleusis. And from this point we get a more notable beginning for Attic chronography.

5. So much, then, for the period prior to Ogygus. And at his time Moses left Egypt. And we demonstrate in the following manner how reliable is the statement that this happened at that date. From the exodus of Moses up to Cyrus, who reigned after the captivity, are 1237 years. For the remaining years of Moses are 40. The years of Jesus, who led the people after him, are 25 those of the elders, who were judges after Jesus, are 30 those of the judges, whose history is given in the book of Judges, are 490 those of the priests Eli and Samuel are 90 those of the successive kings of the Hebrews are 490. Then come the 70 years of the captivity, [6] the last year of which was the first year of the reign of Cyrus, as we have already said.

6. And from Moses, then, to the first Olympiad there are 1020 years, as to the first year of the 55th Olympiad from the same are 1237, in which enumeration the reckoning of the Greeks coincides with us. And after Ogygus, by reason of the vast destruction caused by the flood, the present land of Attica remained without a king up to Cecrops, a period of 189 years. For Philochorus asserts that the Actæus who is said to have succeeded Ogygus, or whatever other fictitious names are adduced, never existed. And again: From Ogygus, therefore, to Cyrus, says he, the same period is reckoned as from Moses to the same date, viz., 1237 years and some of the Greeks also record that Moses lived at that same time. Polemo, for instance, in the first book of his Greek History, says: In the time of Apis, son of Phoroneus, a division of the army of the Egyptians left Egypt, and settled in the Palestine called Syrian, not far from Arabia: these are evidently those who were with Moses. And Apion the son of Poseidonius, the most laborious of grammarians, in his book Against the Jews, and in the fourth book of his History, says that in the time of Inachus king of Argos, when Amosis reigned over Egypt, the Jews revolted under the leadership of Moses. And Herodotus also makes mention of this revolt, and of Amosis, in his second book, and in a certain way also of the Jews themselves, reckoning them among the circumcised, and calling them the Assyrians of Palestine, perhaps through Abraham. And Ptolemy the Mendesian, who narrates the history of the Egyptians from the earliest times, gives the same account of all these things so that among them in general there is no difference worth notice in the chronology.

7. It should be observed, further, that all the legendary accounts which are deemed specially remarkable by the Greeks by reason of their antiquity, are found to belong to a period posterior to Moses such as their floods and conflagrations, Prometheus, Io, Europa, the Sparti, the abduction of Proserpine, their mysteries, their legislations, the deeds of Dionysus, Perseus, the Argonauts, the Centaurs, the Minotaur, the affairs of Troy, the labours of Hercules, the return of the Heraclidæ, the Ionian migration and the Olympiads. And it seemed good to me to give an account especially of the before-noted period of the Attic sovereignty, as I intend to narrate the history of the Greeks side by side with that of the Hebrews. For any one will be able, if he only start from my position, to make out the reckoning equally well with me. Now, in the first year of that period of 1020 years, stretching from Moses and Ogygus to the first Olympiad, the passover and the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt took place, and also in Attica the flood of Ogygus. And that is according to reason. For when the Egyptians were being smitten in the anger of God with hail and storms, it was only to be expected that certain parts of the earth should suffer with them and, in especial, it was but to be expected that the Athenians should participate in such calamity with the Egyptians, since they were supposed to be a colony from them, as Theopompus alleges in his Tricarenus, and others besides him. The intervening period has been passed by, as no remarkable event is recorded during it among the Greeks. But after 94 years Prometheus arose, according to some, who was fabulously reported to have formed men for being a wise man, he transformed them from the state of extreme rudeness to culture.


Watch the video: The Cyrus Cylinder: An Artifact Ahead of Its Time