WASHINGTON - A nearly 2,600-year-old clay cylinder described as the world's first human rights declaration is being shown for the first time in the United States.
The Cyrus Cylinder carries an account, written in cuneiform, of how Persian King Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 B.C. and would allow freedom of worship and abolish forced labor. The account also confirms a story from the Bible's Old Testament, describing how Cyrus released people held captive to go back to their homes, including the Jews' return to Jerusalem to build the second Temple.
The cylinder was found under a foundation wall of the city of Babylon.
It will be displayed beginning Saturday at the Smithsonian's Sackler Gallery. It will be in Washington through April 28, on loan from the British Museum. A yearlong U.S. tour will follow, with exhibitions planned in Houston, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
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