Cyrus and the Chinese

5 Aug 2010

www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/Extracts-of-Cyrus-Cylinder-found-in-China/ (see News section if story unavailable) ... it seems a British Museum curator, Irving Finkel, has identified a cuneiform text inscribed on horse bones found in China, and they represent extracts from the Cyrus Cylinder. They were initially dismissed as fakes but the Chinese brought them across to Britain to have them looked at in detail - and they are now regarded as a genuine inscription, suggesting the Cyrus proclamation was not peculiar to the city of Babylon but was produced for dissemination elsewhere in the Persian Empire (probably reaching China via the Silk Road). The Cyrus Cylinder (a fired clay tube with an inscription) was ceremoniously buried under a wall of the city, the text commemorating the achievements of Cyrus the Great. The clay cylinder ended up in the British Museum in 1879 after being discovered by Victorian archaeologists. The provenance of the horse bone inscription is unknown, except that it was buried during the Cultural Revolution in order it would not be vandalised, and dug up afterwards. It ended up in the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City.