King cyrus cylinder

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BBC Learning English-May 05 2011
6 Minute English
King Cyrus' Cylinder
NB: This is not a word for word transcript
6 Minute English © bbclearningenglish.com 2011
Page 1 of 6
Yvonne: Hello, I'm Yvonne Archer, this is 6 Minute English and thanks to Alice for
joining me today.
Alice: Hi Yvonne.
Yvonne: Hello Alice. Now recently, an artefact - a very old piece of art - which many
historiansregard as the world's first ever human rights charter was on loan
for a while from the British Museum to the National Iranian Museum in
Tehran.
Alice: Very interesting.
Yvonne: It is, and it's small, it’s made of clay and is a cylindrical shape. And the Cyrus
Cylinder, as it's often called, is two and a half thousand years old!
Alice: That’s very old. Is it still in perfect shape?
Yvonne: Ithink it is, yes. But before we find out more, you'd better answer today's
question, Alice.
Alice: OK - I’m ready and waiting.
Yvonne: Very good. Which country does the British Museum's oldest artefact come
from?
6 Minute English © bbclearningenglish.com 2011
Page 2 of 6
a) Benin
b) Iraq or
c) Tanzania
Alice: I’ve got no idea - so I’m going to guess …Tanzania.
Yvonne: OK. And I’ll tellyou whether you’re right or wrong later on in today’s “6
Minute English”. King Cyrus of Persia, now Iran, ordered the cylinder to be
inscribed way back in 539 BC. Alice, can you explain how an inscription is
different from writing for us, please?
Alice: Sure. When we write, it's usually on the surface of something with ink - or with
graphite if we’re using a pencil. But King Cyrus's wordswere 'inscribed', so
they were engraved - or carved - into the surface of the cylinder. And we can
actually feel the writing with our fingers if we touch the inscription, not just
look at it.
Yvonne: And here's BBC Front Row presenter, John Wilson, to tell us what is inscribed
on the Cyrus Cylinder:
Insert 1: John Wilson, BBC Front Row
This object records how he liberated the city of Babylonfrom tyranny, how he freed and
repatriated enslaved people. And how he decreed that all the people of Babylon should
be allowed to practice their own religion and culture.
Yvonne: The little clay object records - or tells us - how King Cyrus liberated the city of
Babylon from tyranny. Now there's a word we don't hear too often! Alice, can
you explain what is 'tyranny' is for us, please?
6Minute English © bbclearningenglish.com 2011
Page 3 of 6
Alice: Well, 'tyranny' is a type of behaviour that is cruel, oppressive and very unfair.
For example, we might hear a dictator described as 'tyrannical'. So freeing the
city of Babylon from tyranny is generally thought to have been a good thing.
Yvonne: As we heard, King Cyrus freed the enslaved people and sent them back to their
homes -he repatriated them. And what about that word 'decreed' - that's
another old fashioned and rather formal word, isn't it?
Alice: Yes, it is. If a ruler decrees something, he or she makes it officially known that
it is now law. And King Cyrus of Persia decreed that people should be allowed
to practice their own religion and culture.
Yvonne: The cylinder was on display in Tehran for about sevenmonths and during that
time, about two million people went to see it. Here's what one exhibition
visitor told John Wilson about the artefact:
Insert 2: Woman in National Iranian Museum and John Wilson
Woman: Iran was the centre of the world so many years ago but nowadays, we're left
apart. In our schools and universities, they don't talk about these things.
John Wilson: Because it's part ofthe pre-Islamic history?
Woman: Yeah.
Yvonne: The woman says that Iran was the centre of the world many years ago.
Alice: So in her view, at one point, Iran was the most important country in the world.
6 Minute English © bbclearningenglish.com 2011
Page 4 of 6
Yvonne: Mm. She says they don't talk about things like the Cyrus Cylinder in schools or
universities in Iran because it's an...
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