Fri 23rd Oct 2015

Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe celebrates Cyrus The Great Day

On 29th October 539 BCE, Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, entered the city of Babylon and proclaimed himself “King of Babylon, King of Sumer and Akkad, King of the four corners of the world.”  He came bearing the ‘Cyrus Cylinder’, the first Charter of Human Rights, which he placed under the walls of Babylon.  Today, the Cyrus Cylinder is exhibited in the British Museum.  To commemorate this milestone in human civilisation, the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe (ZTFE) is celebrating ‘Cyrus The Great Day’ on Thursday 29th October 2015 from 6pm – 8.30pm, in the Zartoshty Brothers Hall, Zoroastrian Centre, Harrow, HA2 9TL, followed by a reception. All are welcome, and those wishing to attend are asked to register their names with the ZTFE Secretariat before Tuesday 27th October 2015, by email on or by phone on 020 8866 0765.

The panel of speakers will include:

Dr Rashna Writer, speaking on ‘Cyrus the Great: Father of the Iranian Nation’.  Dr Writer was a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Department of Study of Religions, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London University, from 2008–2013, where she lectured on Zoroastrianism in Ancient and Modern Worlds. 

Professor Almut Hintze FBA, speaking about ‘Aspects of Jewish–Persian contacts under the Achaemenids’. Professor Hintze is the ‘Zartoshty Brothers Professor of Zoroastrianism’ at SOAS. 

Dr John Curtis OBE FBA, with a speech on ‘Explaining and Exhibiting the Cyrus Cylinder’. Dr Curtis was Keeper of the Middle East Department at the British Museum 1989–2011, Keeper of Special Middle East Projects 2011 – 2013, and since January 2014 he has been CEO of the Iran Heritage Foundation. 

Cyrus the Great

Within his lifetime, Cyrus created the first world empire in the ancient world, which comprised of many cultures and religions. However, Cyrus was not your typical conqueror. In the Persian Empire created by Cyrus, cultural differences were respected. Cyrus did not interfere with local customs, religions, laws and dialects. Considering his territory spanned three continents and included 25 nations, Cyrus proved he was not only benevolent, but also wise.

Unlike many of the rulers that came before and after him, Cyrus set very high standards for himself.  He believed that no man was fit to be king unless he was the most capable among those he intended to rule.  When his men fought, he fought alongside them.  He was reasonable, intelligent, and felt no compulsion to wrap himself in a cloak of majesty.

The Persians called him “Father.”  The Jews, who were exiled in Babylon until Cyrus liberated them, praised him as “The Lord’s anointed.”  Even the Greeks, the ancient enemies of the Persians, regarded Cyrus as “A worthy ruler and lawgiver.”

Truly, a life to commemorate.