The Cyrus the Great Charter Cylinder is the first charter of right of nations in the world. It is a baked-clay cylinder in Akkadian language with cuneiform script. This cylinder was excavated in 1879 by the Assyria-British archaeologist Hormuzd Rassam in the foundations of the Esagila (the Marduk temple of Babylon) and is kept today in the British Museum in London.
Cyrus the Great (ca.600 - 529 BCE) was a towering figure in the history of mankind. As the "Father of the Iranian Nation", he was the first world leader to be referred to as "The Great". Cyrus founded the first world empire - and the second Iranian dynastic empire (the Achaemenids) - after defeating the Median dynasty and unifying the Medes with the other major Iranian tribe, the Persians.
On 539 BC, Achaemanid army without any conflict entered the city of Babylon. Cyrus the Great entered the city assuming the titles of "king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four corners of the world". Cyrus the Great, on this cylinder, describes how he conquers the old city of Babylon and how his mighty army in peace marched into the city;
In 1971, the Cyrus Cylinder was described as the world’s first charter of human rights, and it was translated into all six official U.N. languages. A replica of the cylinder is kept at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City in the second floor hallway, between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council chambers.
Here is translation of the Charter’s text:
“am Cyrus, King of the globe, great king, mighty king, King of Babylon, king of the land of Sumer and Akad, King of ......, king of the four quarters of Earth, son of Cambyses (Kambujiye), great king, king of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus (Kurosh), great king, king of Anshan, descendant of Teispes (Chaish Pish), great king, king of Anshan, progeny of an unending royal line, whose rule, The Gods, Bel and Nabu cherish, whose kingship they desire for their hearts' and pleasures.
When I well disposed, entered Babylon, I had established the seat of government in the royal palace of the ruler, amidst jubilation and rejoicing. Marduk the great god, induced the magnanimous inhabitants of Babylon to love me, and I sought daily to worship him when my numerous soldiers in great numbers peacefully entered Babylon and moved about undisturbed in the midst of the Babylon, I did not allow anyone to terrorize the people of the lands of Sumer and Akkad and ...... I kept in view, the needs of the people and all their sanctuaries to promote their well being. I strove for peace in Babylon and in all his other sacred cities. As to the inhabitants of Babylon who against the will of the gods were enslaved, I abolished the corvee which was against their social standing, I freed all slaves. I brought relief to their dilapidated housing, putting thus an end to their misfortunes and slavery Marduk, the great lord, was well pleased with my deeds, rejoiced and to me, Cyrus, the king who worshipped him, and to Cambysis, my son, the offspring of my loins, and to all my troops he graciously gave his blessing, and in good sprit, before him we stood peacefully and praised him joyously.
All the kings who sat in throne rooms, throughout the four quarters, from the Upper Sea (Mediterranean Sea) to the Lower Sea (Persian Gulf), those who dwelt in ...... and all those who live in other types of buildings as well as all the kings of the West Land, who dwelt in tents, brought me their heavy tribute and kissed my feet in The Babylon. As to the region, from ...... to the cities of Ashur, Susa (Shoosh), Agade and Eshnuna, the cities of Zamban, Me-Turnu, Der as far as the region of the land of Gutium, the holy cities beyond the Tigris River, whose sanctuaries had been in ruins over a long period, the gods whose abode is in the midst of them, I returned to their places and housed them in lasting abodes.
I also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned to them their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk, the great lord, all the gods of Sumer and Akkad whom Nabonid had brought into Babylon to the anger of the lord of the gods, unharmed, in their former chapels, the places which makes them happy.”
The Cylinder was borrowed by Iran’s National Museum from British Museum for public show in Tehran (Sep 2010 – Mar 2011). Unfortunately photography was prohibited; it is a shame that I couldn’t take picture of Cyrus’ Charter in hisown country! This picture is taken by one of my friends, Mr. Shirani in London.