It’s about the size of a football and made of clay. It’s chipped, cracked and missing a chunk. But the Cyrus Cylinder is one of the most important pieces of pottery in history. The nearly 2,600-year-old artifact, described as the world’s first human rights declaration, is being shown for the first time in the United States. The Cyrus Cylinder, on display through April 28 at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery, carries an account of how Persian King Cyrus conquered Babylon and would allow freedom of worship. It also confirms a Bible story of Cyrus releasing people held captive to return to their homes. This would include the Jews’ return to Jerusalem. It’s being shown with U.S. President Thomas Jefferson’s copy of a book about Cyrus, illustrating how the Persian king inspired the founding fathers.
Details: www.asia.si.edu or 202-633-1000.