The Cyrus Cylinder: Symbol of Religious Tolerance


British Museum director, Neil MacGregor, argues that the the Babylonian cylinder, discovered in 1879, stands with the American Constitution and the Magna Carta as one of the great documents of religious tolerance.


In this twenty minute Ted Talk, MacGregor relates the story of the cylinder.  Written in Akkadian script, it says that after Cyrus conquered most of the Middle East, he released the Jews and all the other people  in captivity and allowed them to return to their countries and recover their gods.


MacGregor notes that the god, Marduke, told Cyrus to free the Jews. The Hebrew Bible relates a similar story, but in this story, Jehovah, God of the Israelites, not Marduke, calls on Cyrus to release the Jews.


It’s fascinating story and shows how one document can relate so much history.

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