Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Cyrus Cylinder: The First Charter of Human Rights

The rugby ball-sized clay cylinder was made on the order of the Persian King Cyrus about 2.600 years ago, at a time, the empire stretched from the Balkans to Central Asia. Cyrus had the reputation of being a "liberal and enlightened monarch", his empire was "the first model based on diversity and tolerance of different cultures and religions", a model that later inspired Jefferson, Truman, and King George V. Some scientists call it the "first bill on human rights" (via and via). A replica of the world's first charter of human rights is kept at the United Nations Headquarters (via).

An excerpt from the cylinder:
“I ordered that all shall be free to worship their gods without harm … I ordered closed places of worship … to be reopened. … I brought their people together and rebuilt their homes.”
"Cyrus’ words heralded an exemplary policy of religious tolerance, producing stability across his vast multicultural domain — and suggesting that more freedom, rather than less, can be a recipe for a safer and more secure world."
Katrina Lantos Swett & Daniel I. Mark

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photograph via