On April 26th and 27th, 2013, the Smithsonian’s Museums of Asian Art in Washington D.C., is holding a symposium focused on the legacy of Cyrus the great and the Cyrus Cylinder which is now on a exhibit tour in the U.S.
On Friday, April 26th the symposium starts with a talk by John Curtis, British Museum. Mr. Curtis was the Keeper of the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum 1989–2011, and is currently Keeper of Special Middle East Projects. He is particularly interested in Iraq and Iran and has published widely on those subjects. His recent books include Forgotten Empire: the World of Ancient Persia (2005) and An Examination of Late Assyrian Metalwork (2013). He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Corresponding Member of the Archaeological Institute of America. Mr. Curtis will talk about the significance of the Cyrus Cylinder and also looking at the life of the Cylinder since 1971, and what it represents for different constituencies at the present time.
On Saturday, April 27th, 2013, the Symposium includes a number of longer talks as well as presentations of shorter papers. The invited speakers include scholars from University College London, German Archaeological Institute, Columbia University, University College Dublin, Stanford University, and Brandeis University.
The Cyrus Cylinder was discovered at Babylon in 1879. Scholars soon realized its inscription corroborated with the biblical account of how the Jews brought to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar were repatriated by Cyrus and allowed to start building the Second Temple. While the Cylinder does not mention the Jews by name, it does refer to the restoration of sacred statues to various shrines together with the people from those shrines. It also gives a detailed account of Cyrus’s capture of Babylon. From the beginning, the Cylinder was celebrated as an important historical document. It did not acquire its present iconic status until the late 1950s, however, when it began to be described as the First Charter of Human Rights.
For more information visit the Smithsonian’s Museums of Asian Art – http://www.asia.si.edu/events/