Neil MacGregor: 2600 years of history in one object

Neil MacGregor: 2600 years of history in one object

The things we make have one supreme quality — they live longer than us. We perish, they survive; we have one life, they have many lives, and in each life they can mean different things. Which means that, while we all have one biography, they have many. I want this morning to talk about the story, the biography — or rather the biographies — of one particular object, one remarkable thing. It doesn’t, I agree, look very much. It’s about the size of a rugby ball. It’s made of clay, and it’s been fashioned into a cylinder shape, covered with close writing and then baked dry in the sun. And as you can see, it’s been knocked about a bit, which is not surprising because it was made two and a half thousand years ago and was dug up in 1879. But today, this thing is, I believe, a major player in the politics of the Middle East. And it’s an object with fascinating stories and stories that are by no means over yet. The story begins in the Iran-Iraq war and that series of events that culminated in the invasion of Iraq by foreign forces, the removal of a despotic ruler and instant regime change. And I want to begin with one episode from that sequence of events that most of you would be very familiar with, Belshazzar’s feast — because we’re talking about the Iran-Iraq war of 539 BC. And the parallels between the events of 539 BC and 2003 and in between are startling. What you’re looking at is Rembrandt’s painting, now in the National Gallery in London, illustrating the text from the prophet Daniel in the Hebrew scriptures. And you all know roughly the story. Belshazzar, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar who’d conquered Israel, sacked Jerusalem and captured the people and taken the Jews back to Babylon. Not only the Jews, he’d taken the temple vessels. He’d ransacked, desecrated the temple. And the great gold vessels of the temple in Jerusalem had been taken to Babylon. Belshazzar, his son, decides to have a feast. And in order to make it even more exciting, he added a bit of sacrilege to the rest of the fun, and he brings out the temple vessels. He’s already at war with the Iranians, with the king of Persia. And that night, Daniel tells us, at the height of the festivities a hand appeared and wrote on the wall, “You are weighed in the balance and found wanting, and your kingdom is handed over to the Medes and the Persians.” And that very night Cyrus, king of the Persians, entered Babylon and the whole regime of Belshazzar fell. It is, of course, a great moment in the history of the Jewish people. It’s a great story. It’s story we all know. “The writing on the wall” is part of our everyday language. What happened next was remarkable, and it’s where our cylinder enters the story. Cyrus, king of the Persians, has entered Babylon without a fight — the great empire of Babylon, which ran from central southern Iraq to the Mediterranean, falls to Cyrus. And Cyrus makes a declaration. And that is what this cylinder is, the declaration made by the ruler guided by God who had toppled the Iraqi despot and was going to bring freedom to the people. In ringing Babylonian — it was written in Babylonian — he says, “I am Cyrus, king of all the universe, the great king, the powerful king, king of Babylon, king of the four quarters of the world.” They’re not shy of hyperbole as you can see. This is probably the first real press release by a victorious army that we’ve got. And it’s written, as we’ll see in due course, by very skilled P.R. consultants. So the hyperbole is not actually surprising. And what is the great king, the powerful king, the king of the four quarters of the world going to do? He goes on to say that, having conquered Babylon, he will at once let all the peoples that the Babylonians — Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar — have captured and enslaved go free. He’ll let them return to their countries. And more important, he will let them all recover the gods, the statues, the temple vessels that had been confiscated. All the peoples that the Babylonians had repressed and removed will go home, and they’ll take with them their gods. And they’ll be able to restore their altars and to worship their gods in their own way, in their own place. This is the decree, this object is the evidence for the fact that the Jews, after the exile in Babylon, the years they’d spent sitting by the waters of Babylon, weeping when they remembered Jerusalem, those Jews were allowed to go home. They were allowed to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild the temple. It’s a central document in Jewish history. And the Book of Chronicles, the Book of Ezra in the Hebrew scriptures reported in ringing terms. This is the Jewish version of the same story. “Thus said Cyrus, king of Persia, ‘All the kingdoms of the earth have the Lord God of heaven given thee, and he has charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem. Who is there among you of his people? The Lord God be with him, and let him go up.'” “Go up” — aaleh. The central element, still, of the notion of return, a central part of the life of Judaism. As you all know, that return from exile, the second temple, reshaped Judaism. And that change, that great historic moment, was made possible by Cyrus, the king of Persia, reported for us in Hebrew in scripture and in Babylonian in clay. Two great texts, what about the politics? What was going on was the fundamental shift in Middle Eastern history. The empire of Iran, the Medes and the Persians, united under Cyrus, became the first great world empire. Cyrus begins in the 530s BC. And by the time of his son Darius, the whole of the eastern Mediterranean is under Persian control. This empire is, in fact, the Middle East as we now know it, and it’s what shapes the Middle East as we now know it. It was the largest empire the world had known until then. Much more important, it was the first multicultural, multifaith state on a huge scale. And it had to be run in a quite new way. It had to be run in different languages. The fact that this decree is in Babylonian says one thing. And it had to recognize their different habits, different peoples, different religions, different faiths. All of those are respected by Cyrus. Cyrus sets up a model of how you run a great multinational, multifaith, multicultural society. And the result of that was an empire that included the areas you see on the screen, and which survived for 200 years of stability until it was shattered by Alexander. It left a dream of the Middle East as a unit, and a unit where people of different faiths could live together. The Greek invasions ended that. And of course, Alexander couldn’t sustain a government and it fragmented. But what Cyrus represented remained absolutely central. The Greek historian Xenophon wrote his book “Cyropaedia” promoting Cyrus as the great ruler. And throughout European culture afterward, Cyrus remained the model. This is a 16th century image to show you how widespread his veneration actually was. And Xenophon’s book on Cyrus on how you ran a diverse society was one of the great textbooks that inspired the Founding Fathers of the American Revolution. Jefferson was a great admirer — the ideals of Cyrus obviously speaking to those 18th century ideals of how you create religious tolerance in a new state. Meanwhile, back in Babylon, things had not been going well. After Alexander, the other empires, Babylon declines, falls into ruins, and all the traces of the great Babylonian empire are lost — until 1879 when the cylinder is discovered by a British Museum exhibition digging in Babylon. And it enters now another story. It enters that great debate in the middle of the 19th century: Are the scriptures reliable? Can we trust them? We only knew about the return of the Jews and the decree of Cyrus from the Hebrew scriptures. No other evidence. Suddenly, this appeared. And great excitement to a world where those who believed in the scriptures had had their faith in creation shaken by evolution, by geology, here was evidence that the scriptures were historically true. It’s a great 19th century moment. But — and this, of course, is where it becomes complicated — the facts were true, hurrah for archeology, but the interpretation was rather more complicated. Because the cylinder account and the Hebrew Bible account differ in one key respect. The Babylonian cylinder is written by the priests of the great god of Bablyon, Marduk. And, not surprisingly, they tell you that all this was done by Marduk. “Marduk, we hold, called Cyrus by his name.” Marduk takes Cyrus by the hand, calls him to shepherd his people and gives him the rule of Babylon. Marduk tells Cyrus that he will do these great, generous things of setting the people free. And this is why we should all be grateful to and worship Marduk. The Hebrew writers in the Old Testament, you will not be surprised to learn, take a rather different view of this. For them, of course, it can’t possibly by Marduk that made all this happen. It can only be Jehovah. And so in Isaiah, we have the wonderful texts giving all the credit of this, not to Marduk but to the Lord God of Israel — the Lord God of Israel who also called Cyrus by name, also takes Cyrus by the hand and talks of him shepherding his people. It’s a remarkable example of two different priestly appropriations of the same event, two different religious takeovers of a political fact. God, we know, is usually on the side of the big battalions. The question is, which god was it? And the debate unsettles everybody in the 19th century to realize that the Hebrew scriptures are part of a much wider world of religion. And it’s quite clear the cylinder is older than the text of Isaiah, and yet, Jehovah is speaking in words very similar to those used by Marduk. And there’s a slight sense that Isaiah knows this, because he says, this is God speaking, of course, “I have called thee by thy name though thou hast not known me.” I think it’s recognized that Cyrus doesn’t realize that he’s acting under orders from Jehovah. And equally, he’d have been surprised that he was acting under orders from Marduk. Because interestingly, of course, Cyrus is a good Iranian with a totally different set of gods who are not mentioned in any of these texts. (Laughter) That’s 1879. 40 years on and we’re in 1917, and the cylinder enters a different world. This time, the real politics of the contemporary world — the year of the Balfour Declaration, the year when the new imperial power in the Middle East, Britain, decides that it will declare a Jewish national home, it will allow the Jews to return. And the response to this by the Jewish population in Eastern Europe is rhapsodic. And across Eastern Europe, Jews display pictures of Cyrus and of George V side by side — the two great rulers who have allowed the return to Jerusalem. And the Cyrus cylinder comes back into public view and the text of this as a demonstration of why what is going to happen after the war is over in 1918 is part of a divine plan. You all know what happened. The state of Israel is setup, and 50 years later, in the late 60s, it’s clear that Britain’s role as the imperial power is over. And another story of the cylinder begins. The region, the U.K. and the U.S. decide, has to be kept safe from communism, and the superpower that will be created to do this would be Iran, the Shah. And so the Shah invents an Iranian history, or a return to Iranian history, that puts him in the center of a great tradition and produces coins showing himself with the Cyrus cylinder. When he has his great celebrations in Persepolis, he summons the cylinder and the cylinder is lent by the British Museum, goes to Tehran, and is part of those great celebrations of the Pahlavi dynasty. Cyrus cylinder: guarantor of the Shah. 10 years later, another story: Iranian Revolution, 1979. Islamic revolution, no more Cyrus; we’re not interested in that history, we’re interested in Islamic Iran — until Iraq, the new superpower that we’ve all decided should be in the region, attacks. Then another Iran-Iraq war. And it becomes critical for the Iranians to remember their great past, their great past when they fought Iraq and won. It becomes critical to find a symbol that will pull together all Iranians — Muslims and non-Muslims, Christians, Zoroastrians, Jews living in Iran, people who are devout, not devout. And the obvious emblem is Cyrus. So when the British Museum and Tehran National Musuem cooperate and work together, as we’ve been doing, the Iranians ask for one thing only as a loan. It’s the only object they want. They want to borrow the Cyrus cylinder. And last year, the Cyrus cylinder went to Tehran for the second time. It’s shown being presented here, put into its case by the director of the National Museum of Tehran, one of the many women in Iran in very senior positions, Mrs. Ardakani. It was a huge event. This is the other side of that same picture. It’s seen in Tehran by between one and two million people in the space of a few months. This is beyond any blockbuster exhibition in the West. And it’s the subject of a huge debate about what this cylinder means, what Cyrus means, but above all, Cyrus as articulated through this cylinder — Cyrus as the defender of the homeland, the champion, of course, of Iranian identity and of the Iranian peoples, tolerant of all faiths. And in the current Iran, Zoroastrians and Christians have guaranteed places in the Iranian parliament, something to be very, very proud of. To see this object in Tehran, thousands of Jews living in Iran came to Tehran to see it. It became a great emblem, a great subject of debate about what Iran is at home and abroad. Is Iran still to be the defender of the oppressed? Will Iran set free the people that the tyrants have enslaved and expropriated? This is heady national rhetoric, and it was all put together in a great pageant launching the return. Here you see this out-sized Cyrus cylinder on the stage with great figures from Iranian history gathering to take their place in the heritage of Iran. It was a narrative presented by the president himself. And for me, to take this object to Iran, to be allowed to take this object to Iran was to be allowed to be part of an extraordinary debate led at the highest levels about what Iran is, what different Irans there are and how the different histories of Iran might shape the world today. It’s a debate that’s still continuing, and it will continue to rumble, because this object is one of the great declarations of a human aspiration. It stands with the American constitution. It certainly says far more about real freedoms than Magna Carta. It is a document that can mean so many things, for Iran and for the region. A replica of this is at the United Nations. In New York this autumn, it will be present when the great debates about the future of the Middle East take place. And I want to finish by asking you what the next story will be in which this object figures. It will appear, certainly, in many more Middle Eastern stories. And what story of the Middle East, what story of the world, do you want to see reflecting what is said, what is expressed in this cylinder? The right of peoples to live together in the same state, worshiping differently, freely — a Middle East, a world, in which religion is not the subject of division or of debate. In the world of the Middle East at the moment, the debates are, as you know, shrill. But I think it’s possible that the most powerful and the wisest voice of all of them may well be the voice of this mute thing, the Cyrus cylinder. Thank you. (Applause)


  • jimbob202019 says:


    without religion you would not have half of europe writing
    without religion you would not have the hindus numeral system 0123456789 10
    without religion you would not have a writen clue to any historical writen event
    without religion man would never of got of his fat ass and pushed his way through life!

    it was not the greeks athiest that started the ball roleing on science,maths,mussurements calculations.. it was the hindus and egyptians and both did it because of faith!

  • Harakashi says:

    "We all know what happened then" translation: "You better not talk about it"

  • jimbob202019 says:

    1 at the time of hinduism and buddhism it was utopian style living with sex,love,peace,happiness

    2. how would their be technology if their was no calculation formulas? thats was created by the hindus aswell as the dgits 0123456789 10 hindu numeral system

    3. history was ONLY writen down as record of mapping of humans and dairys of kings which once again started in india with the vedas

    we are both imply except mine are vastly more probable BECAUSE ITS ALREADY HAPPEND! but thanks for the theory

  • jimbob202019 says:

    JAMIE — 1
    BEN—– 0

  • Meero1993 says:

    Fuck Islam I am an Agnostic Palestinian who was born a refugee, in Lebanon, and I know what my ancestors suffered from.. Fuck Judaism and Islam, all this shit is because of the Hebrew God… Read real History to understand what happened in 1948, "pussy" and "faggot" aren't the proper way to study it!

  • Arash Daneshkadeh says:

    Very interesting talk but the speaker makes two major misrepresentations regarding the nature of the current Iranian regime:
    1 The speaker states of "many women in senior positions" in Iran today whereas as a matter of fact women are not allowed by the misogynous tyranny to even be judges. Thousands of women including young teenagers have been murdered by "execution" or under torture and rape and some by the inhuman method of stoning them to death.

  • Arash Daneshkadeh says:

    The second major misrepresentation: As a matter of fact, the current regime in Iran is a religious tyranny using pre-mediaeval terrorizing tactics and has murdered tens of democracy and human rights campaigners including Christian bishops and Moslem clergy. Furthermore, Sunnite Moslems, who are the largest community of Moslems in Iran after Shi'ites, are not allowed to even have a mosque in Tehran and many of their leaders have been incarcerated, tortured and some even murdered.

  • Arash Daneshkadeh says:

    Atheism has been well tolerated by Iranians throughout their history and this can be seen by the veneration some major agnostic or atheist Persian poets enjoy in Iran. This of course has nothing to do with the theocratic tyranny currently ruling through torture, rape, murder and terrorism.

    No my friend. You cannot engrave anything on that ancient cylinder as it is one of the most valuable artefacts of human civilization as we know it. You can make your own though! 🙂

  • Arash Daneshkadeh says:

    Correction: The regime has murdered tens of thousands of democracy and human rights activists.

  • BezBog says:

    May we all know where you get your information from?

  • TacticusPrime says:

    Zoroastrianism forbade slavery, so it's not particularly surprising that Cyrus would do what he did.

  • Nathan Silva says:

    religion causes wars. atheism makes peace.

    now find out how and why.
    and tell me, ill tell you whats right or wrong.

  • Paolo Bantaculo says:

    Tell that to Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. All were fascist atheists who didn't believe in any sort of values and in total killing over 30 million people combined. Now, before you start bashing on religion get your facts straight cause an ignorant person like you should be educated more thoroughly.

  • Darren Chung says:

    clearly the youtube comments section is a fantastic place to voice your atheistic or religious opinions

  • Nathan Silva says:

    they killed those who are trying to make religion rise. but its not only one religion. its many and they go against eachother. trying to take over the world with their stories that people actually belive on that non sense.

  • MysticPotato68 says:

    Interesting history for sure.

  • ARYT13 says:

    @7:20 Darius was not the son of Cyrus. It was Cambyses who came after Cyrus.

  • LinyEasow says:

    The fundamental question is where did the information, design and the laws for sustaining the universe come from?

  • CrackingTechHD says:

    1979 Engeland installed Khomenei in Iran to make Iran weak and obtain all it's oil and raw materials. Iran will rise again and we will bring freedom to the whole world.

  • Koot Orand says:

    ول کن بابا اسدالله، حالا شما کوتاه بیا.

  • LightOfDivine1 says:

    Cyrus belonged to "The Kamboja Clan", Cyrus as Greeks called Him, his real name was in Persian "Khrush", his Father was Emperor Cambysis as Greeks called him, but real name in Persian was "Camboja"! There relatives ruled parts of Greece, Italy, Spain, Hungary and Russia and Ire-Land the Ire is from Ayran Land all have connection to this. The Vedas and Granth Sahib mention Kamboja! Veda is over 8 thousand years old!

  • LightOfDivine1 says:

    Cyrus real Name Kruush is of Zoroastrian Religion! Many of his Descendants are Sikhs, Sikhs are a Dharma of no Hate, all Love, they do not care if you are not Sikh or Atheist, Sikhs Religion teaches all belong to One Universal Creator God! And Science is one of the Major Names of God for Sikh Dharma! Much of Cyrus's History was destroyed by Islam! Islam hates Zoroastrians, all Iran was Zoroastrian, Islam killed many of Cyrus's descendants, most fled to India, some to Ireland, Hungary, Spain!

  • olivewoodandvine says:

    This should be watched by everyone who is cutting humanities studies, esp archaeology, at universities. This is why history/archaeology is important; the past is always present.

  • Alan Horton says:

    Point of historical fact. The Achemenid Persian empire did not rule Ireland or have any contact with Ireland. Their Westernmost permanent border was the Hellespont. Any further west and the empire became overextended and was not able to sustain its borders. There are limits to how big an empire can get, it's part of the natural order, expansion comes at the cost of internal stability. Every empire in history that has tried to exceed its natural limits has ended in collapse and catastrophe.

  • LightOfDivine1 says:

    Alan you are correct, to be clear I never said the Achemenid Persian Empire ruled Ire-Land. I said people of that Ayran Clan the Kamboja were a founding wave of the Island that is calle dIre Land, and that lands people named it Ireland for Area Land or Ayra Land! Land of the Ayrans! This probably occurred way before the Achemenid PErsian Empire! That Empire did not Concur Ireland, but rather people of that race or lineage founded that land! Notice many Irish look hotter then the British!

  • Kapisa Tajik says:

    Piss off you fucking liar. Just because you indian dravidians dont have good history like us you are trying to associate your bullshit with us. long live real persians of iran khorasan and tajikistan.

  • parsa xj says:

    long live iran and its people

  • Alan Horton says:

    There is literally zero evidence for that theory. The original language of the Irish is Celtic, not Aryan in root, there is no archeological evidence, and with the possible exception of the "black Irish," most Irish people don't bear any resemblance to any of the Aryan peoples.

  • LightOfDivine1 says:

    Alan Horton, you are just a Bigot, I know many Punjabi and they look like many Irish, do not give me this Black Irish thing, North Indian have silky shiny sexy hair! Not kinky african hair that looks brick rubbed!

    Everybody know Irish language is descended from Sanskrit! Ireland is Ire or Ayr land ok! Land of Ire – Ayr! English too is from Sanskrit, so is Italian! Boy u think Wpale white is sexy, nope Carmel Caucasians are the best! Enya looks like many Punjab Indians!

  • LightOfDivine1 says:

    You , Muslim, your Mohamad teaches in Koran to beat women! Islam teaches to cut opposing limbs of Christians and non-Muslims, a terrorist religion.
    Cyrus was not Muslim, Cyrus was Zoroastrian, Punjabi are his Clan the Kamboja!

    No Arbaic Numerals, its Indian Numerals, the Muslim evil, got it from India! India invented Paper! North Indian Aryans do not wish to be Semitic Arabic inbreed cousin marriage degenerates.

    All Cyrus lineage fled to India all Zoroastrians fled, Islam kills all

  • Alan Horton says:

    A racialist supremacist like you does not get to call other people bigots. You do not know any Punjabis who look Irish. There may be some light-skinned Persians who could be mistaken for "black Irish," but no Indians. When was the last time you saw a Punjabi with red hair, white eyebrows, freckles and light gray eyes? Having smooth hair does not make one look Irish.

  • Alan Horton says:

    Gaelic is not descended from Sanskrit. It may be distantly related through Proto-Indo-European, but that is not Sanskrit, that's a hypothetical shared root language. Your amateur etymology of "Ireland" is not supported by any evidence, and is purely guesswork on your part. The closest actual approximation is that "Eire" comes from a Proto-Indo-European word meaning "fat." Nothing about it being from Sanskrit.

  • Alan Horton says:

    English and Italian are not from Sanskrit. They may come from Proto-Indo-European, but that is not the same as coming from Sanskrit. Saying that any European language comes from Sanskrit is like saying French comes from Spanish.

  • Alan Horton says:

    There is no evidence that Sikhs are descended from the Achemenid Persians. Sikhism was developed in Northern India thousands of years after the Achemenid dynasty fell, and is based on some elements of Hinduism. Sikhism is not based on Zoroastrianism. There is no "dharma" in Zoroastrianism, it is not Hinduism. The two religions may have shared a root many thousands of years ago, but they were distinct by the time the Vedas were written.

  • Alan Horton says:

    I have read a great deal about the Islamic conquest of Persia. It happened during the Sassanid Shahanshah, not the Achemenid. The Achemenids had been gone for over a thousand years by that point. The Zoroastrians who refused to convert fled to India and became the Parsi ethnic minority. There is nothing about them fleeing to Ireland or Spain, and they wouldn't have been able to. Those countries were too far afield, and were already theocratically Christian and wouldn't have accepted them.

  • Alan Horton says:

    You have to remember that at the time of the Islamic conquest of Persia, Europe was already Christian, and that Christendom had even more hatred for Zoroastrianism than it had for Islam. The Sassanids and the Byzantine Empire had been at war for centuries, they hated everything about each other with every fiber of their beings, and each viewed the other's religion as nothing less than devil worship.

  • Alan Horton says:

    For Sassanid-era Persians to get to Ireland at the time of the Islamic conquest, they would have had to trek through hundreds of kingdoms and empires whose people and governments had been conditioned to see them as the walking embodiment of evil. Right off, their way West would have been blocked by the Byzantine Empire. They migrated to India because the way East was the only route of escape.

  • Alan Horton says:

    Cyrus the Great was not Punjabi. The Chinese invented paper.

  • LightOfDivine1 says:

    Bigot there are tons of Persians who are mistaken for Russians, Irish, Italian, Greek, Many Afganistani even look like Irish not black Irish, White Irish! , tons! What u mean light shin color has nothing to do with it. Otherwise Africans would bleach there skin and lok better, oh they do bleach it in Africa and they look even worse with lighter skin! Its facial features that determine attractiveness

  • LightOfDivine1 says:

    How insulting of the Irish that there nation is named for Fat people! When truth is is named after the Ayran Race Land Nation founded in Punjab of long ago like 60 thousand years ago, Sanskrit is probably 100 thousand years old. THis is why Caucasians and Mongoloids have silky shiny hair, and Caucasians be they Indian have bouncy hair, but Africans have brick rubbed kinky hard to manage and care for hair

  • Alan Horton says:

    You are engaging in presentism. It is only in a modern context, in a culture where food is as abundant as ours, that there have been any negative connotations to fat. In most ancient societies, fat is a symbol of status and wealth. It meant that you were one of the few who could afford to over-eat, that you weren't some short, emaciated peasant with his teeth falling out from malnutrition.

  • Alan Horton says:

    Also, I wrote that "Eire" meant "fat," not necessarily "fat PEOPLE." It is highly likely that it refers to the land itself and its productivity, i.e. "the fat of the land." Ireland is well known for being green and fertile. The one famine they've suffered came not from poor soil, drought or poor climate, but from a bacterium that destroyed the roots of a specific plant, and through grossly exploitative British agricultural policies.

  • Alan Horton says:

    The "Aryan race" was not "founded in Punjab." Most of the theories I've heard for the Aryan migration across Central Asia is that it originated somewhere around the Black Sea, but even those sources are vague. One thing that reputable sources do not say is that Aryan culture originated in any specific part of India. There was no Aryan race 60,000 years ago. That was the Paleolithic era, when humans were just beginning to migrate out of Africa.

  • Alan Horton says:

    Also, I assure you that black people don't rub their hair with bricks. This is a bizarre thing you keep repeating.

  • Alan Horton says:

    Again, you have the audacity to call me a bigot when you yourself cannot contain your hatred of black people and their hair. Can you seriously not see how hypocritical this is? There are some Persians who look like Southern Europeans. There are very few who look like the majority of Russians. You have not seen Afghans who look like "white Irish," you are either lying through your teeth or you have never seen an Irish person. There is no resemblance.

  • Alan Horton says:

    I've said nothing about attractiveness. That's a qualifier that you have added. The notion of what constitutes attractiveness varies wildly from culture to culture, and within cultures over any considerable length of time. It is completely subjective.

  • LightOfDivine1 says:

    Alan Horton nope Attractivness is Universal! In Africa all Black Nations prefer Caucasian Hair, Caucasian Noses, Caucasian Lips, every Black Man if givven a choice will prefet to dump a Black woman for a Caucasian Indian Woman or European caucasian woman. Blacks wear Weaves made of Caucasian-Indian women!

    Only some Caucasians are ones who like beastiality so they love to have kinky haired kids, but Blacks they discriminate against half black kids due to bad hair!

  • Alan Horton says:

    There is no universal standard of attractiveness. Traditional standards of beauty in African nations do include strong African features and, for women, full figures. Western standards of beauty have crept in through media, but the traditional standards of beauty from those cultures, before people started reading imported copies of Vogue, were more African.

  • Alan Horton says:

    Some black women in America wear weaves, many don't. Some black men think black women in weaves are attractive, many others think the natural hair texture is more attractive. The reason black women wear weaves in America is Western standards of beauty.

  • moorek1967 says:

    I didn't read the person's comment, but did someone suggest Cyrus was muslim?

  • Ali Aziz says:

    Long Live Persia-Iran

  • Maury Goldbergsteinowitz says:

    Oh get the fuck out of here you god damn liar. Stop trying to hijack our culture. Why the hell do Sikhs and Indians always try to trace everyone's culture back to them?! You're not descendants of Cyrus. Cyrus died loooong before the advent of Islam.

  • Maury Goldbergsteinowitz says:

    And Cyrus' name is Kurosh. Not Kruush.

  • Maury Goldbergsteinowitz says:

    I'm literally searching all around the internet and have found absolutely nothing to back up your bogus claim.

  • Tannaz Altafi says:

    muslims, zorastrians, jews, christians, and people of other faiths are all made of the same flesh. anyone fostering hate by derogation of a faith followed by billions (some bad, many good).. clearly does not display the zoroastrian belief. muslims believe in one God (one Creator)… please stop yelling (God can hear you without the exclamations) You clearly have never read the Holy Quran nor understand the history. Please, let's spread the message of love as the Creator would have wanted it.

  • Hami Soltan says:

    I love it

  • Viktoria Noel says:

    My overweight uncle managed to make the most beautiful pole dancer I’ve seen in my life fall for him as he cheated by using the Cupid Love System (Google it). It’s bad but I wish I’d been pleased for him but I want such a sexy girl to fall in love with me. I’m seriously green with envy. Does that make me a horrible individual?

  • Patricia Reid says:

    Well it is too bad that Iran still thinks it is okay to imprison, torture and kill Baha'is.  They should look to Cyrus for their guidance perhaps.

  • sunshin3man says:

    flawed logic

  • 에쒸디시 says:

    This was so interesting about telling the storu of the one relic of 2600years ago and bad relation with Iraq and Iran from ancient to present. I thought when they became islamic, there relation were be better, but iran-iraq war broke my thought. To the tell about this one more, the history of that relic is so spectacle i ever thought.

  • Abdolah Rastgoo says:

    Iran (Persia) have the most glorious history of the world. On the contrary of Greece, Romans,  Egyptian and Chinese which engaged with cruelty and inhumanity, Iran brings humanity and love to the world. The first human right of the world in 2600 years ego…  

  • ArianMas says:

    Greatest nation, Empire, and culture in History. Long live Persia.

  • Dirir Abdullahi says:


  • fradaja says:

    thank fk they found it before isis

  • NTF says:

    Only Persians know the Cyrus cylinder. Americans dont

  • Afsaneh Mirfendereski says:

    Thank you Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum. The Persian Empire was the first Empire to exist on the edict of respect for all religions. Something the world, and Donald Trump, could learn from. Not to mention, Thomas Jefferson studied how Cyrus put together an Empire made up of different people with different languages and religions.

  • OHM-968692 says:

    Very interesting. A Cyrus style Iran and the Middle East sounds like a great and civilized idea.

  • HairlessHare says:

    Watching these makes my soul ache as I wonder what could have been if we hadn't been infested 14 centuries ago

  • Caleb Steve says:

    the verse in Isaiah (which was written before Cyrus took over Babylon but of course he didn't want to say that )  explains why he was praising Marduk instead of GOD(YHWH) of Israel

       I am the God of Israel.
        I am sending for you by name.

    Cyrus, I am sending for you by name.
        I am doing it for the good of the family of Jacob.
        They are my servant.
    I am doing it for Israel.
        They are my chosen people.
        But I am giving you a title of honor.

    I am the Lord. There is no other Lord.
        I am the one and only God.
        But I will make you strong.

  • Hanes Rosenau says:

    STA 20 where you at

  • Parvin Zamany says:

    In deed. thanks!

  • Quinn IsHappy says:

    I'm not telling you there's no God, I'm just saying that God, is just a figment of your mind. most likely a genetic push for small groups of hunter gatherers to stay faithful to each other. This then as an abstract ends up creating a faith of nature's phenomena and therefore a creator, as best as we could philosophically consider at the time. no evolution. design. however badly, in search of the best way to reproduce genes.

  • Behrouz Ghanbari says:

    This is how impostors hijack the history to adjust it to some satanic Old Testament (Isaiah and Book of Ezra)! they have removed one-third of Cyrus cylinder and they have attached a fake piece to it to make it compatible with those books and fake stories, as Timothy Potts states it has nothing to do with returning of Jews to Israel. History will remember Neil MacGregor as a liar and as an impostor!

  • Behrouz Ghanbari says:

    Distorted history, corrupt rulers, inverted world!
    1. Cyrus was Zoroasterian and was monotheist, in Isaiah 45 which is Satanic book it mentions Cyrus as SUMMONED by God of Israel (Lucifer) and its savior (Huge Lie).
    2. In history we read Cyrus was Nabonidus (king of Babylon) successor, while we read on Cyrus cylinder that he mentions Ashurbanipal cruel king of Assyria (Israel) as his predecessor. (Another Huge Lie).
    3. In Isaiah 45 we read Cyrus was breaking the gates of Iron and copper in order to receive riches stored in secret places, on his cylinder we read he seals that hidden secret places with huge melted Iron and copper in order to keep the world from the devilish energies (Gog and Magog). we read the exact same story in Holy Quran and Book of Kings (By Ferdowsi).
    4. Ashurbanipal king of Assyria (Israel) was proud of his satanic knowledge "the hidden treasures of the scribe's knowledge.", Cyrus mentions on his cylinder that before he seal that place with those scriptures he observes those satanic scribes of Ashurbanipal in there.
    5. Satanism or witchery and extraterrestrial entities which was practiced after king Solomon by Pharaohs and Israelite got sealed by Cyrus. So he saved the world from them and from Israel. After that art and philosophy flourished and witchery and wickedness vanished.
    6. In Holy Quran there is whole Surat dedicated to jinn (demons) which goes like this
    72:6 But there were certain men of mankind who would take refuge with certain men of the jinn, and they increased them in vileness.
    God mentions this people as Taghut (means Rebellious) against God and it points to the people who follow the way of Satan. In Quran in several cases God has abandoned man from parting and subduing to these forces. in my favorite verse God says
    No compulsion is in the religion; surely rectitude hath become manifestly distinguished from the error. Whosoever then disbelieve in the devil and believe in God, has gain hold of a firm string which never breaks, And God is All Hearing, All Knowing.
    7. The reason Cyrus cylinder (most important among cylinders) is broken is the fact they wanted to destroy it first, but then they thought Cyrus was a wise man and he had a vast empire speaking many different languages so there is a good chance that he has buried many replicates in different sites for future generations and one might be found at any time. Thats why they did not try to change the text , they broke it and they claim some parts are lost, they thought it would be enough to deceive the world that Cyrus was savior of Israel and now Brits empire is doing the exact same thing, they did not knew that same document exists in Quran and Book of Kings (Ferdowsi).
    8. In Quran god mentions that He created Man from Clay and Jinns form Fire, I learned from my own experience that best protection against microwave mind control weaponry is Iron and copper, and that is the very same reason Cyrus sealed it with huge amount of copper and Iron in order to prevent the demonic energies trans-pass to our world from another world, that is the big secret of so called Big powers of the world nowadays, and they have exploited that in everyday life technologies like cellphone and WiFi. It is counter intuitive but cellphone and WIFI technology is the main reason behind disconnection and it used vastly by governments to control, monitor track, and even murder individuals.

  • Dan Hill says:

    religious fanatics should not discourse on history.

  • jose diaz says:

    Correction Mr. MacGregor..the cylinder was created after the conquest of Babylon (539bc)..the scriptures of Isaiah date back to 700bc…looks like Isaiah was write when he prophesied

  • Aran kondor says:

    درود کی خوابه کی بیداره ؟؟ – چرا پناهندگان و فراریان برون مرز سازمان دهی نمیکنیم درجشن ۷ آبان روز کوروش بزرگ با پرچم ایران به خیابانها نمی آیند ؟؟ و فریاد مردم ایران نمیشوند هر کس در شهر و کشوری که هستند ؟؟ و اینکه دفتر حقوق بشر ؟ سازمان ملل هیچ است٬ مانند جمهوری کشتاراسلامی٬ از همه چیز و همه جا مگویند – تنها از کشتار و شکنجه ها و گورهای دسته جمی پنهان و کشتار های پنهانی و زندانهای پنهان و فروش سازمان یافته کودکان و نو جوانان و شکنجه روزانه شهروندان با شمشیر اسلام و جهادیون حزب اللای بسیج و پاسدار و فاطی کوماندو و < لباس شخصی های جاسوس مسلمان و کمونیست – و فروش سازمان یافته دختران ایرانی و فروش دل و جیگر بخشها ی تن کودکان ایرانی٬ حراج اسلامی خاک ایران چیزی نگفته اند٬ سخن نگفته… هیچ هیچ نگفته و ندیدند نه فرتوری( نه عکسی ) نه فیلمی نه گفتگویی با فراریان و شکنجه شده گان پناهنده نه فیلمی هیچ در هیچ جا در سایت های رسانها ی سازمان ( حقوق بشر ؟؟) سازمان ملل هیچ – پس از ۴۰ سال شکنجه و کشتار واعدام های خیابانی سازمان یافته مردم در بند ایران… مانند ملا خمینی هیچ و خامنه ای هیچ و ملا حسن وملا حسین هیچ هیچ هیچ ندیدند نه شنیدند نه گفتند٬ چه شاشمان ملل ی = سازمان ملل ی ؟؟ چه کشکی چه سازمان حقوقی ؟؟ اینها همه یک مافیای جهانی اند و بس // آبان ۲۵۷۶ خورشیدی شاهنشاهی >> سالروز کوروش بزرگ جشن سراسری ۷ آبان را به روز بر اندازی جمهوری اسلامی-کمونیستی دست نشانده دگرگون کنیم. هر کس در شهر و کشوری که هست با پرچم ایران بزرگ٬ فریاد مردم ایران باشیم. با هر هزینه مالی و جانی. نه نه نه به حکومت خون آشام داعشی-طالبانی اسلامی-کمونیستی دست نشانده بیگانگان. پیاده به ایران رفتن برای آزادی ایران. ( من تنهایی با پرچم ایران. شنبه ۲۸ آکتبر زمان – سایت ۱۲ نیمروز در شهر مونترآل- کانادا هستم هر کس آمد خوش آمد – خیابان سان کاترین میدان – کاره فلییپ. مترو مگیل. ) Iraj janbazi on Facebook

  • MercySincere says:

    Some Jews today even look to Cyrus as a Messiah

  • Farshid Taheri says:

    Since then and the Balfour declaration many historian try to politicize and distort the history and discouraged to mention such. Old testament and all those historical reference to Cyrus and Persia have been hidden from the public.

  • n nn says:

    All the peoples are not only refering to jewish people he meant all slaves somme a of those are jewish thats all, but the name jewish people its not in the document or he will refer to it imediatly….

  • José Antonio Montoya says:

    Couldn't they get him a proper lectern? It's painful to watch him giggle behind that sort of corporate coffee-corner junk table.

  • abnormallyfunny says:

    Such a brilliant speaker, and such an enlightened and fascinating speech.

    It's a shame most of the people making comments do not seem to have listened. Many already claiming possession of this object and using it to reinforce their arguments.

  • farbod Aprin says:

    I hope today Iran have secular, wise oriented rules as US ! US is smell of Iran's ancient beauty. thanks US Constitution that exist thanks Cyrus (Koyroush) Cylinder inspire humen <3.

  • John von Shepard says:


  • sahba mobini says:

    Impressive !! Thanks!

  • First Last says:

    A great culture destroyed by intolerant, hateful, violent, and deceitful ideology Islam !!! Wake up people, hang your mullahs, join the freedom that Cyrus promised for all.

  • VIRENDRA DR says:

    love the spirit equality,liberty and all ,birds,beasts,animals,plants ,human right for coexistence
    for all species as dis Cyrus

  • americanhindi says:

    Leaders like Sir William Wallace, Chhatrapati Shivaji, Cyrus the great, and many more are my heroes.

  • Matthew V says:

    Where is God now to tell people about their faith.

  • Allen Lee says:

    Isaiah 45 foretold about Cyrus before it even happened …

  • Teague Pinder says:

    Such an amazing story concerning humanity and a teaching from so long ago by the Achaemenian Persian King, Cyrus! I had no idea how far reaching and involved this particular artifact was and how impactful it was then and even now in affairs spanning the Ancient Persian Empire, The Israeli Peoples and Jewish faith, the United States and affairs over all in the Middle East concerning present day Iran, Iraq. The scope of how Cyrus and the Cyrus Cylinder has affected the entire Middle East and all players concerned is nothing less than monumental and relevant in this astounding presentation! Thank you Dr. MacGregor of the British Museum and thank you TED!

  • Oscar Jackson says:

    viva Cyrus

  • Terry Bromley says:

    Terry F Bromley, Now we have to see the people who have returned act in a humane & friendly way towards the Palestinians & share the land!

  • Pseudo Astrologer says:

    To each their own definition of tolerance.
    Thank you for an interesting talk.

  • Madrid Gevara says:

    NO not Persia. Persia was simply a pawn just as Babylon was and the Hittite, Ammo-rite, Philistine Moabite and yet were are all of them. They have all faded into history like the relics they are. Yet the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The God of Israel and His Word remains. And those who the sovereign Lord has used to fulfill His plan for Israel.

  • Davidm. Byrd says:

    This is evidence to the Fact Religions are the most powerful weapons ever created against the human race. Historically effectively creating, and pulling the strings of power while herding the masses off to the Bank and pitting us against each other for centuries to steal from others by way of Proxy WARS..

  • Maria Stella says:

    The reason everyone is confused when it comes to truth, is due to the fact that names are changed to suit religion constitutions of the times.. MARDUK was the name recorded on the cylender and no man has the rights to change the name !!!!!

  • Bilal Sidik says:

    Jesus will come to get rid of the Zionists

  • Research0digo says:

    DATE of this talk??

  • Roger Guiles says:

    Need to get rid of that idiotic islam now.

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