Scholars' Reflections on the Cyrus Cylinder
"The new world view enshrined by the Cyrus Cylinder and the objects in this exhibition remains as relevant today as it did several millennia ago. The tolerance embraced by the Cylinder’s text has been applauded throughout history and we at The Metropolitan Museum of Art are proud to share this message with our diverse international audience."
- Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
“The Cyrus Cylinder and associated objects represent a new beginning for the Ancient Near East. The Persian period, commencing in 550 BC, was not just a change of dynasty but a time of change in the ancient world. Some of these changes and innovations are highlighted in the exhibition."
- John Curtis, Keeper of Special Middle East Projects at the British Museum
“Cyrus is one of the most fascinating and least known personalities in ancient history. Cyrus was perhaps one of the greatest statesmen and kings of the ancient world, where his view on religious tolerance was a turning point for the history of the Eurasia. His cylinder is a firsthand testament to this openness and acceptance of those of other traditions. Cyrus’ vision and actions is truly a model for humanity.”
- Dr. Touraj Daryaee, Associate Director of Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture at the University of California, Irvine
"Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian empire, ranks among the most important conquerors and statesmen of antiquity, and the Cyrus Cylinder is an invaluable primary source for his self-depiction and royal ideology. It celebrates a pivotal moment in his expansion, the capture of the great cultural center of Babylon in 539 BC, without reveling in the violent aspects of conquest. Instead, Cyrus Highlights his positive relationship with the Babylonians’ chief deity and the benefactions that his imperial rule will offer his new subjects."
- John Hyland, Associate Professor of History, Christopher Newport University
"It is my sincere hope that the occasion of the tour of the Cyrus cylinder in the United States will go beyond reiterations of pride, however justified, in Iran’s ancient past to give rise to a genuine collective soul-searching among Iranians, Iranian-Americans and the lovers of Iran’s glorious culture about a far more important and pressing question: why is it that the message of humane governance enshrined in this unique icon has not received the more active affirmations it so richly deserves through the rest of Iranian history, particularly in recent centuries?"
- Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, Chair, Department of Middle Eastern Studies at University of Maryland at College Park
"Cyrus the Great was truly an epochal figure in world history. This traveling exhibition offers a unique opportunity to discover the legacy of Cyrus and to explore the history and civilization of Achaemenid Persia, one of the most important, yet least-appreciated, empires of the ancient world."
- Professor John W.I. Lee, Department of History, UC Santa Barbara
"You could almost say that the Cyrus Cylinder is A History of the Middle East in one object and it is a link to a past which we all share and to a key moment in history that has shaped the world around us. Objects are uniquely able to speak across time and space and this object must be shared as widely as possible. I am delighted that it will travel to the US and am hugely grateful to both our US partners and the Iran Heritage Foundation for making this possible.”
- Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum
"Some artifacts are too important to only belong to a museum or even a nation. The Cyrus Cylinder is certainly one such rarity. It reflects how power can be, even at its height, beneficent and tolerant, how faith need not be tantamount to persecuting others who believe differently, and how Iran was once very different from the common current stereotypes, and finally the Cylinder shows humanity at its best. Not just Iranians, but all of humanity must cherish and know about these moments."
- Dr. Abbas Milani, Hamid & Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University
"The Cyrus Cylinder is one of the most important artefacts to have survived from the ancient world and we are delighted that it will be on view next fall to visitors at the Getty Villa, where it will be shown in the context of other artefacts and inscriptions from the period of the Achaemenian empire. More than any other document from the ancient world, this declaration by King Cyrus of the return of conquered nations to their settlements, has a continuing relevance to the peoples of the Middle East and indeed throughout the world. As home to the largest community of Iranian Americans in the United States, I have no doubt that Los Angeles will thrilled by this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
- Timothy Potts, Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum
"For thousands of years, philosophers viewed Cyrus the Great as the paragon of the 'Virtuous Ruler,' and the Bible refers to him as 'the anointed' of the Lord, crediting him with permitting Jews to rebuild their Holy Temple in Jerusalem. This magnanimous image inspired even the Founding Fathers of the United States. One of the goals of this exhibition is to encourage us to reflect that relations between Persians and Jews have not always been marked by the discord that disfigures the political map of the Near East today."
- Julian Raby, the Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art
“[The Cyrus Cylinder] shows that the circles of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian empire, were deeply knowledgeable and keenly appreciative of important legacies of the diverse regions of its vast realm. This understanding we derive from the Cylinder runs against a now-discredited notion that the Persians were barbarian parvenus. At the same time as it makes use of an ancient local medium of expression, the Cylinder also forecasts both the practice and the ideology of a real, earnestly-held religious/ethnic tolerance that became the hallmark of Persian rule in its mature flowering under Darius the Great one generation later.”
- Professor Margaret Cool Root, Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan
"The Cyrus Cylinder tells a great story of human history. We are thrilled to be able to bring this touchstone of ancient civilization to Houston, and to present the Cyrus Cylinder and related objects in the context of our collections."
- Gary Tinterow, Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
"The San Francisco Bay Area is home to both the signing of the United Nations Charter and the birth of the Free Speech Movement, major pillars supporting human rights and civil liberties. The Asian Art Museum is proud to partner with the British Museum and our US museum partners to bring the Cyrus Cylinder to San Francisco. This important object not only provides a foundation for understanding the ancient world, but also a touchstone for continued efforts to strive for common human freedoms."
- Jay Xu, Director of the Asian Art Museum