The British Museum’s (BM) loan of the Cyrus Cylinder to Iran has been delayed, because of a major discovery in London. Part of Cyrus the Great’s text has been found on two fragments of inscribed clay tablets.
The first fragment was identified on 31 December by Wilfred Lambert, a retired professor from Birmingham University, who was going through some of the 130,000 tablets at the museum. Although it had been seen by earlier scholars, no one had linked the text to the Cyrus Cylinder.
BM curator Irving Finkel later found a second fragment which had once been part of the same tablet. Both fragments (slightly smaller than matchboxes) had been excavated by a BM team in 1879 at Dailem, south of Babylon, in what was then the Ottoman Empire (and now Iraq). Two years later the fragments were accessioned into the BM’s collection.