The Cyrus Cylinder: The Magna Carta of the Middle East?

05 May 2021 - 19:00

An online webinar and Q&A about The Cyrus Cylinder.

The webinar will be presented by Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum from 2002 to 2015, writer and presenter of A History of the World in 100 Objects and founding Director of the Humboldt Forum in Berlin. Introduced by Ali Malek QC, Master Treasurer of Gray’s Inn for 2021.

Location: Online
Cost: Free
Registration: 6.45pm

About the Cyrus Cylinder

The Cyrus Cylinder is a document with a very specific purpose at the time it was made, which has since had many meanings projected on to it. 

The role or legend of Cyrus, as the Persian Emperor who allowed the Jews deported by Nebuchadnezzar to return from Babylon and build the Second Temple, is significant in the history of Iran, Iraq, Israel and India.  Since its discovery in Babylon by British Museum excavators in 1879 the Cyrus Cylinder, which was the first documentary evidence for the Old Testament narrative of the return, has become an icon across the Middle East. It was loaned to the Shah of Iran for the great Persepolis celebrations in 1971 and again to Tehran in 2010, to Spain in 2006, to the USA for a five-city tour in 2013 and Mumbai in 2013-2014.

The Cylinder raises many important questions such as the freedom of British museums and their Trustees to act independently of Government, how far the global community of museums can work below the political radar and what does Cyrus and the Cylinder mean in terms of modern Iran’s self-understanding.


Open to Members.

Book online via the Gray's Inn Online System (GIOS).

This event will be delivered remotely using Zoom. A link to the join the event will be sent by email 24 hours prior to the scheduled start time. Please ensure you have joined before the session is due to start.

Written questions can be submitted in advance by email to Sam Hutchinson or on the night.

Online event
Open to all