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Ancient Rights 

Wednesday, Jul 31 2013
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The Cyrus Cylinder is one of the worldÕs greatest surviving documents governing peopleÕs personal freedoms Ð as important as the U.S. Constitution and EnglandÕs Magna Carta, but dating back much further to 539 BCE, when PersiaÕs Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon. Written in Babylonian cuneiform, the Cyrus Cylinder established the rights of conquered people to worship as they wished. Unearthed in 1879 in Iraq, the clay cylinder Ð owned by the British Museum Ð is touring the United States for the first time, and the Asian Art Museum is one of only five institutions where people can see this outsized work of history that, at nine inches, is tiny. ÒThe Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New BeginningÓ also features other artifacts from CyrusÕ era, including pottery and jewels, but the cylinder is the exhibitÕs absolute star Ð a surviving testament to a time in the Middle East when war led to bloodshed but also to rapprochement. Among the exhibitÕs related events: On Friday, Aug. 9, 3-5 p.m., John Curtis Ð the British MuseumÕs Keeper, Department of the Middle East Ð will give a keynote address at the Asian Art Museum, coupled with a Cyrus Cylinder panel discussion with scholars, historians and writers (tickets $20-$25); and on Saturday, Aug. 10 at 7 p.m., the San Francisco Philharmonic Orchestra performs the world premiere of ÒThe King Cyrus Symphonic Suite: From Birth to the Proclamation of Human RightsÓ at the Nob Hill Masonic Center, 1111 California St. (tickets $28-$153, masonicauditorium.com).


Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Aug. 9. Continues through Sept. 22, 2013

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Jonathan Curiel

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