The cylinder will be going on tour in the United States next year accompanied by other artefacts from the ancient Near East. The exhibition's tour will begin with the Smithsonian in Washington in March, then it travels (among other places) to the Metropolitan in New York and the J Paul Getty in Los Angeles. The Guardian points out the political implications of the tour:
When relations between the US and Iran are at best fragile, the interpretation of this evidence of Persia's historic tolerance is an intriguing prospect. For MacGregor the point is about the "reasserting of the importance of the historical perspective. It is a reminder that the problems in the Middle East can be understood only in the context of the long historical framework". According to John Curtis, keeper of special Middle East projects at the museum, "the Cyrus cylinder is important for the expatriate Iranian community in America, and it is important for the Jewish community". In its role as early human-rights declaration, a replica of the Cyrus cylinder is displayed in the UN headquarters, he pointed out.[...]The touring exhibit is part of the British Museum's policy of making the collection available as widely as possible "either online or on loan", said MacGregor. An exhibition of Egyptian artefacts recently opened in Mumbai; the museum is also working with institutions in China, Hong Kong and Australia. After its tour to the US, the Cyrus cylinder will itself head to Mumbai. The museum also supports permanent displays and touring exhibitions in regional institutions in Britain.
"Our role is to represent this as an object in the history of culture," said MacGregor, "but what is fascinating is the reading of the objects by others". Curtis added: "In a way, it doesn't matter so much what the document actually says, so much as what people think it says."
Photo: The 'Cyrus Cylinder'.
Charlotte Higgins, 'Babylonian relic to visit US with historic message of tolerance', The Guardian 27 November 2012.