The Cyrus Cylinder


DESCRIPTION
Photo from Nader Seif
"Cyrus the Great Website"


Photo from Nader Seif
"Cyrus the Great Website"
Language: Akkadian
Medium: clay cylinder
Size: 23 cm long
11 cm wide
Length: 40+ lines of writing
(although broken)
Genre:
Date: 538 BCE
Cyrus's reign: 557–529 BCE
Place of Discovery: Nineveh, Iraq
Date of Discovery: 1879
Discoverer: Hormuzd Rassam
Current Location: British Museum
Inventory number: BM WAA 90920
(BM = British Museum;
WAA = Western Asiastic Antiquities)
Alternative Designation: V R 35
(Rawlinson 1909: pl. 35)





TEXT
TRANSLITERATION
(Rogers 1912:380-84)

TRANSLATION
(Adapted from Rogers 1912:380-84)
[ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]-ni-Šu 1 [. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ] his troops
[ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]-ki-ib-ra-tim 2 [ . . . . . . . . . . . . four] quarters of the world
[. . . ]-ka gal ma tu-û i Š -Šak-na a-na e-nu-tu ma-ti- Šu 3 [ . . . ] a weakling was established as ruler over his land
Ši-[ . . . . . . . . . . ta-am]-Ši-li ú- Ša-aŠ-ki-na si-ru-Š u-un 4 and [ . . . . . ] a similar one he appointed over them,
ta-am-Ši-li É-sag-ila i-te-[. . . . . . -ti]m a-na Uriki ù si-it-ta-tim ma-ha-za 5 like Esagila he made [ . . . ] to Ur and the rest of the cities,
pa-ra-as la si-ma-a-ti- Šu-nu ta-[ . . . . . l]i û-mi- Šá-am-ma id-di-ni-ib-bu-ub ù ana na-ak-ri-tim 6 a command dishonoring them [ . . . . . ] he planned daily and in enmity,
sat-tuk-ku ù-Šab-ti-li ú-ad-[di . . . . . . iŠ] -tak-ka-an ki-rib ma-ha-zi pa-la-ha iluMarduk Šar ilâni [Šá]-qi- Še a-Šu-uŠ- Šu 7 he caused the daily offering to cease; he appointed [ . . . ] he established within the city. The worship of Marduk, king of the gods [ . . . ]
li-mu-ut-ti ali-Šu [i-te]-ni-ip-pu-uŠ &ucirc-mi- Šá-am-ma na-[. . . . niŠe ] i-na ab-Ša-a-ni la ta-ap-Š ú-úh -tim ú-hal-li-iq kul-lat-si-in 8 he showed hostility toward his city daily
[ . . . ] his people; he brought all of them to ruin through servitude without rest.
a-na ta-zi-im-ti-Ši-na iluEllil lililani iz-zi-iŠ i-gu-ug-ma [ . . . ] ki-su-úr-Šú-un ilâni a- Ši-ib lib-bi-Š ú-nu i-zi-bu ad-ma-an- Šú-un 9 On account of their complaints, the lords of the gods became furiously angry and left their land; the gods, who dwelt among them, left their homes,
i-na ug-ga-ti Šá ú- Še-ri-bi a-na ki-rib Babili ilu Marduk ti-[ . . . . ] li-sa-ah-ra a-na nap-har da-ád-mi Šá in-na-du-ú Šú-bat-su-un 10 in anger over his bringing into Babylon. Marduk [ . . . ] to all the dwelling places, which had become ruins,
ù niŠe mât Šú-me-ri ù Ak-ka-dikiŠ a i-mu-ú Ša-lam-ta-aŠ ú-sa-ah-hi-ir ka- [ . . . . ]- Ši ir-ta-Š i ta-a-a-ra kul-lat ma-ta-a-ta ka-li- Ši-na i-h i-it ib-ri-e-Šu 11 and the people of Sumer and Akkad, who were like corpses [ . . . . ] he turned and granted mercy. In all lands everywhere
iŠ-te-'-e-ma ma-al-ki i- Ša-ru bi-bil lib-bi Šá it-ta-ma-a h qa-tu-uŠ-Šú m Ku-ra-aŠŠar ali An- Šá-an it-ta-bi ni-bi-it-su a-na ma-li-ku-tim kul-la-ta nap- h ar iz-zak-ra Šú-[ma- Š u] 12 he searched; he looked through them and sought a righteous prince after his own heart, whom he took by the hand. He called Cyrus, king of Anshan, by name; he appointed him to lordship over the whole world.
mâtQu-ti-i gi-mir Um-man Man-da ú-ka-an-ni- Ša a-na Š e-pi-Šu ni Še sal-mat qaqqaduduŠa ú- Š á-ak-Ši-du ka-ta-a-Šu 13 The land of Qutu, all the Umman-manda, he cast down at his feet. The black-headed people, whom he gave his hands to conquer,
i-na ki-it-tim ú mi-Š a-ru iŠ-te-ni-'e-Ši-na-a-tim iluMarduk belu rabu ta-ru-ú niŠ e- Šu ip-Še-e-ti Šá dam-qa-a-ta ù lib-ba-Šú i-Šá-ra ha-di-i Š ip-pa-al-li-is 14 he took them in justice and righteousness. Marduk, the great lord, looked joyously on the caring for his people, on his pious works and his righteous heart.
a-na ali-Šú Bab-ilani ki a-la-ak-Šú ik-bi ú- Š a-as-bi-it-su-ma har-ra-nu Babili ki-ma ib-ri ú tap-pi-e it-tal-la-ka i-da-a-Šu 15 To his city, Babylon, he caused him to go; he made him take the road to Babylon, going as a friend and companion at his side.
um-ma-ni-Šu rap- Ša-a-tim Šá ki-ma me-e nari la &uacute-ta-ad-du-ú ni-ba-Š&uacute-un kakke-Š ú-nu sa-an-du-ma i-Šá-ad-di- ha i-da-a- Šú 16 His numerous troops, in unknown numbers, like the waters of a river, marched armed at his side.
ba-lu qab-li ù ta-ha-zi ú- Še-ri-ba-aŠ ki-rib Babili ala- Šú Bab-ilaniki i-ti-ir i-na Š ap-Šá-ki m, iluNabu-na'id Šarru la pa-li-hi-Š ú ú-ma-al-la-a qa-tu-u Š- Šu 17 Without battle and conflict, he permitted him to enter Babylon. He spared his city, Babylon, a calamity. Nabonidus, the king, who did not fear him, he delivered into his hand.
niŠe Babili ka-li- Šú-nu nap-har mâtŠ ú-me-ri u Ak-ka-diki ru-bi-e ù Š ak-ka-nak-ka Šá-pal-Š ú ik-mi-sa ú-na-aŠ -Š i-qu Še-pu-u Š- Šú ih-du-ú a-na Š arru-ú-ti- Šú im-mi-ru pa-nu-uŠ - Šú-un 18 All the people of Babylon, Sumer, and Akkad, princes and governors, fell down before him and kissed his feet. They rejoiced in his sovereignty; their faces shone.
be-lu Šá i-na tu-kul-ti- Šá ú-bal-li-tu mi-tu-ta-an i-na bu-ta-qu ú pa-ki-e ig-mi-lu kul-la-ta-an ta-bi-iŠ ik-ta-ar-ra-bu- Šu iŠ-tam-ma-ru zi-ki-ir-Š ú 19 The lord, who by his power brings the dead to life, who amid destruction and injury had protected them, they joyously blessed him, honoring his name.
a-na-ku mKu-ra-aŠ Šar kiŠ-Š at Šarru rabu Šarru dan-nu Š ar Babili Šar mât Š ú-me-ri ú Ak-ka-di Šar kib-ra-a-ti ir-bit-tim 20 I am Cyrus, king of the world, the great king, the powerful king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters of the world,
mar mKa-am-bu-zi-ia Šarru rabu Šar alu An-Š á-an mar mari mKu-ra-aŠ Šarru rabu Šar alu An-Š á-an ŠA.BAL.BAL m Š i-iŠ-pi-iŠ Š arru rabu Šar alu An-Š a-an 21 son of Cambyses, the great king, king of the city of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus, the great king, king of the city of Anshan; great-grandson of Teispes, the great king, king of the city of Anshan;
ziru da-ru-ú Ša Šarru-ú-tu Ša iluBel u ilu Nabu ir-a-mu pa-la-a-Š ú a-na tu-ub lib-bi- Šú-nu i h-Ši-ha Šarru-ut-su e-nu-ma a-na ki-rib Babili e-ru-bu sa-li-mi-i Š 22 eternal seed of royalty whose rule Bel and Nabu love, in whose administration they rejoice in their heart. When I made my triumphal entrance into Babylon,
i-na ul-si ù ri- Š á-a-tim i-na ekal ma-al-ki ar-ma-a Š ú-bat be-lu-tim iluMarduk belu rabu lib-bi ri-it-pa- Š ú Šá mare Babili ú . . . an-ni-ma û-mi- Šam a-Š e-'-a pa-la-ah- Šú 23 I took up my lordly residence in the royal palace with joy and rejoicing; Marduk, the great lord, moved the noble heart of the residents of Babylon to me, while I gave daily attention to his worship.
um-ma-ni-ia rap-Ša-tim i-na ki-rib Babili i-Šá-ad-di-ha Šú-ul-ma-niŠ nap-har mat [ Šu-me-ri] ù Akkadiki mu-gal-[l]i-tim ul ú- Šar-Ši 24 My numerous troops marched peacefully into Babylon. In all Sumer and Akkad I permitted no enemy to enter.
dannat Babili ù kul-lat ma-ha-zi- Šu i-na Šà-li-im-tim a Š -te-'-e mare Babi[li . . .] ki ma-la lib-[. . .]-ma ab- Š a-a-ni la si-ma-ti-Šu-nu Š ú-bat-su-un 25 The needs of Babylon and of all its cities I gladly attended to. The people of Babylon [and . . . ], and the shameful yoke was removed from them. Their dwellings,
an-hu-ut-su-un ú-pa-a Š -Ši-ha ú-Š á-ap-ti-ir sa-ar-ba- Šu-nu a-na ip- Še-e-ti-[ia] iluMarduk belu rabu ú-ih-di-e-ma 26 which had fallen, I restored. I cleared out their ruins. Marduk, the great lord, rejoiced in my pious deeds, and
a-na ia-a-ti mKu-ra-a ŠŠarru pa-li-ih-Š u ù mKa-am-bu-zi-ia mari si-it lib-bi-[ia ù a]-na nap- har um-ma-ni-ia 27 graciously blessed me, Cyrus, the king who worships him, and Cambyses, my own son, and all my troops,
da-am-ki-iŠ ik-ru-ub-ma i-na Ša-lim-tim ma-har-Š a ta-bi-iŠ ni-it-ta-['-id i-lu-ti- Šu] sir-ti nap-har Šarri a- Ši-ib parakke 28 while we, before him, joyously praised his exalted godhead. All the kings dwelling in palaces,
Ša ka-li-i Š kib-ra-a-ta iŠ-tu tam-tim e-li-tim a-di tam-tim Šap-li-tim a-Ši-ib kul-[. . . .] Šar-ra-ni mati A-mur-ri-i a- Ši-ib kuŠ-ta-ri ka-li-Š u-un 29 of all the quarters of the earth, from the Upper to the Lower sea dwelling [ . . . ] all the kings of the Westland dwelling in tents
bi-lat-su-nu ka-bi-it-tim ú-bi-lu-nim-ma ki-ir-ba Babili ú-na-aŠ-Š i-qu Še-pu-ú-a iŠ-tu [. . . .] a-di alu A ŠŠurki ù Šu-Š anki 30 brought me their heavy tribute, and in Babylon kissed my feet. From [ . . . ] to Asshur and Susa,
A-ga-deki mâtu E Š -nu-nak aluZa-am-ba-an aluMe-túr-nu Deriki a-di pa-at mât Qu-ti-i ma-ha-za [ Šá e-bir]-ti nâruDiqlat Š á i Š-tu ap-na-ma na-du-ú Šú-bat-su-un 31 Agade, Eshnunak, Zamban, Meturnu, Deri, with the territory of the land of Qutu, the cities on the other side of the Tigris, whose sites were of ancient foundation—
ilâni a-Ši-ib lib-bi- Šu-nu a-na aŠ-ri-Šú-nu ú-tir-ma ú-Šar-ma-a Š ú-bat da-er-a-ta kul-lat niŠe- Šu-nu ú-pa-ah -hi-ra-am-ma ú-te-ir da-ád-mi- Šu-un 32 the gods, who resided in them, I brought back to their places, and caused them to dwell in a residence for all time
ù ilâni mât Šú-me-ri ù AkkadikiŠ á m, iluNabu-na'id a-na ug-ga-tim bel ilâni ú- Še-ri-bi a-na ki-rib Babili i-na ki-bi-ti iluMarduk belu rabû i-na Š á-li-im-tim 33 And the gods of Sumer and Akkad—whom Nabonidus, to the anger of the lord of the gods, had brought into Babylon—by the command of Marduk, the great lord,
i-na maŠ-ta-ki- Šu-nu ú-Še-Ši-ib Šú-ba-at tu-ub lib-bi kul-la-ta ilâni Š a ú-Še-ri-bi a-na ki-ir-bi ma-ha-zi- Šu-un 34 I caused them to take up their dwelling in residences that gladdened the heart. May all the gods, whom I brought into their cities,
û-mi-Ša-am ma- h ar iluBel ù iluNabu Š a a-ra-ku ume-ia li-ta-mu-ú lit-taŠ-ka-ru a-ma-a-ta du-un-ki-ia ù a-na iluMarduk beli-ia li-iq-bu-ú Ša mKu-ra-aŠ Šarri pa-li- hi-ka u mKa-am-bu-zi-ia mari- Šu 35 pray daily before Bêl and Nabû for long life for me, and may they speak a gracious word for me and say to Marduk, my lord, "May Cyrus, the king who worships you, and Cambyses, his son,
da [ . . . ] ib-Šu-nu lu-ú [ . . . ] ka-li-Ši-na Š ú-ub-ti ni-ih-tim ú-Še- Ši-ib [ . . . ] paspase u TU.KIR.HU
[ . . . ]
36 their [ . . . ] I permitted all to dwell in peace [ . . . ]
NOTES
Esagilathe temple of Marduk

Mardukthe patron god of Babylon

King of Anshan — a small kingdom in what is now southern Iran

land of Qutu

Nabonidus

Cambyses

Upper Sea & Lower Sea

Bêlan epithet of the god Marduk (see Jeremiah 50:2; 51:44)

Nabuthe Babylonian god of writing and wisdom (see Isaiah 46:1)





DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. What function/s would such an inscription serve?

2. In what ways would such an inscription serve state ideology? How are Cyrus's gods part of this?
3. How does Cyrus's cylinder inform or raise new questions for reading II Chronicles 36:22-23 and Ezra 1:1-4?
4. What was Cyrus called by the Judahite prophet in Isaiah 44:28—45:6?
5. What motivated ancient kings to conquer neighboring countries?
6. What functions did tribute serve?




SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
Ahlström, Gösta. The History of Ancient Palestine. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.
Briant, Pierre. From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1999.
Gershevitch, Ilya. The Cambridge History of Iran. Vol. 2: The Median and Achaemenian Periods. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985.
Oppenheim, A. Leo. "Babylonian and Assyrian Historical Texts." In Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. Edited by J. B. Pritchard, 265-317. 3rd ed. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1969. (315-16)
Rawlinson, H. C. and T. G. Pinches. A Selection from the Miscellaneous Inscriptions of Assyria and Babylonia. Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia 5. London: Harrison, 1909.
Rogers, Robert William. Cuneiform Parallels to the Old Testament. New York: Eaton & Mains, 1912.
Sancisi-Weerdenburg, Heleen. "Darius I and the Persian Empire." In Civilizations of the Ancient Near East. Edited by Jack M. Sasson, 2.1035-50. New York: Scribners, 1995.
Young, T. Cuyler, Jr. "Cyrus." In Anchor Bible Dictionary. Edited by D. N. Freedman, 1.1230-31. New York: Doubleday, 1992.



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Last Modified: 28 June 2004