Cyrus the Great artifact shown in US for 1st time

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Cyrus Cylinder, a Babylonian artifact. (AP Photo)

Cyrus Cylinder, a Babylonian artifact. (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A nearly 2,600-year-old clay cylinder that’s been described as the world’s first human rights declaration is being shown for the first time in the U.S.

The Cyrus Cylinder from ancient Babylon will be displayed beginning Saturday at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery in Washington. It begins a yearlong U.S. tour with exhibitions planned in Houston, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The cylinder 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.

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