Detail of the Freedom Sculpture by @cecilbalmond donated to the city of Los Angeles @farhangfoundation. "The Freedom Sculpture is an art piece, designed by artist Cecil Balmond, inspired by a historic artifact – the Cyrus Cylinder. The Cyrus Cylinder is an ancient clay cylinder, dating back to 539 BCE, in which the Persian Achaemenid king, Cyrus the Great, dictated unprecedented political principles. “The Cyrus Cylinder is one of the most important works to have survived from the ancient world,” said J. Paul Getty Museum director Timothy Potts in a 2013 statement. “More than any other object from the ancient world, this declaration by King Cyrus of the return of displaced peoples in and around Babylonia to their settlements has a continuing relevance to the peoples of the Middle East and indeed throughout the world.”
After the Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 BCE, Babylon became a colony of the Achaemenid Empire. The cylinder’s text shows how King Cyrus allowed the Jewish exiles in Babylon, who had been previously uprooted and displaced by prior kings, to return back to their homes in Judah, modern day Palestine/Israel.
The Cyrus Cylinder demonstrates the oldest edict by a single ruler to allow for religious freedom, indicating that his subjects are able to worship the God of their choice. It also shows how over 2,500 years ago, the Achaemenid Empire, the largest empire the world had seen, ensured that the state supported and respected religious diversity among its colonies. This unwavering dedication to religious freedom, as a Persian Zoroastrian king facilitated the return of colonized Jews, demonstrates the ancient Persian kingdom’s progressivism, humanity and virtuous rule.
For this, the Cyrus Cylinder has come to symbolize a wide range of values for the Iranian, Iranian American, as well as the global community. The Cylinder is championed as the first human rights charter in the history of the world and even the predecessor to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A replica of the cylinder resides in the United Nations building in New York City, as a symbol of transnational and transhistorical dedication to universal human rights." KCET