July 2020


The Cyrus Cylinder


The Cyrus Cylinder is one of the most iconic objects of Iranian and World history. In 2013, the Iran Heritage Foundation sponsored and co-organised with the British Museum a travelling exhibition entitled The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: a New Beginning for the Middle East.

The exhibition toured five different venues across the USA: the Sackler Gallery, Washington DC; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; and Getty Villa, Los Angeles. The exhibition attracted enormous interest, with over 300,000 visitors, and each venue treated the subject slightly differently.

Clearly the Cyrus Cylinder has different meanings for different interest groups and communities, and at the time of the tour writer and artist Haleh Anvari set out to explore what the Cyrus Cylinder, and also the exhibition, meant to various expatriate Iranian groups. The fascinating results can be seen in her subsequent short film, 7 Sides of a Cylinder, which can be viewed here.

You can also watch a fascinating TED talk about the Cyrus Cylinder by Neil MacGregor, then the Director of the British Museum.