‘NATO has always been at war with Eurasia, err, Eastasia, err Iran, err …’


This video, based on the book 1984, is called 1984 – The War among Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia.

First, a quote from the dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell. The book is set in a fictional year 1984 (still in the future in 1948 when Orwell wrote the novel), in the dictatorial superstate Oceania (roughly, the USA plus Britain). Oceania is perpetually at war against another superstate; either Eurasia or Eastasia.

On the sixth day of Hate Week, after the processions, the speeches, the shouting, the singing, the banners, the posters, the films, the waxworks, the rolling of drums and squealing of trumpets, the tramp of marching feet, the grinding of the caterpillars of tanks, the roar of massed planes, the booming of guns — after six days of this, when the great orgasm was quivering to its climax and the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd could have got their hands on the 2,000 Eurasian war-criminals who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the proceedings, they would unquestionably have torn them to pieces — at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally.

There was, of course, no admission that any change had taken place. Merely it became known, with extreme suddenness and everywhere at once, that Eastasia and not Eurasia was the enemy. …

Oceania was at war with Eastasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia. A large part of the political literature of five years was now completely obsolete. Reports and records of all kinds, newspapers, books, pamphlets, films, sound-tracks, photographs — all had to be rectified at lightning speed. Although no directive was ever issued, it was known that the chiefs of the Department intended that within one week no reference to the war with Eurasia, or the alliance with Eastasia, should remain in existence anywhere.

Today, in 2014, Oceania does not exist. NATO and its member states come closest to it.

Eurasia and Eastasia do not exist. However, NATO states are close to being at war perpetually, including ‘Hate Week’ like propaganda in Rupert Murdoch’s and other corporate media.

Objects of ‘Oceania”s hate and war are often not big states, but states which are neither really big nor very small. States like, sometimes, Iran. Not that small; not that big; but lots of oil.

Minutes ago today, the BBC reported:

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague: Iran can play a positive role in the region

Foreign Secretary William Hague has said plans to re-open the British Embassy in Tehran are an “important step forward” in relations with Iran.

This about a country, where very recently it seemed like the British colony Diego Garcia might be a starting point for war on Iran.

Let us have a few looks at the history of Iran and Western countries.

This video from the USA is called 1953 Iran Coup – CIA Finally Admits Role.

In 1953, there was a democratically elected government in Iran. According to British and US oil tycoons, and the CIA, that democratically elected government ‘threatened the flow of oil to the free world‘. So, the CIA deposed the democratically elected government; replacing it with the dictatorial rule of a shah (emperor). Sixty years later, in 2013, the CIA at last admitted their role in that coup.

Who was that dictatorial emperor, helped to his throne by the CIA, Shah Reza Pahlavi?

He was an anti-Semite.

Shah of Iran interview, including his belief in a ‘Jewish conspiracy‘: here.

He had many oppositionists tortured and/or murdered by his secret police, the SAVAK.

He wanted nuclear plants for Iran.

Shah of Iran nuclear propaganda

He wanted nuclear weapons for Iran.

This video says about itself:

Interview with the late Shah of Iran (circa 1975-76) regarding the need for Iran to acquire Nuclear Weapons.

Finally, the Iranian people were sick of the shah’s dictatorship. In 1979, they overthrew it. Of the various oppositional factions, Shiite Islamic religious leaders came out on top.

Oil tycoons and the CIA hated the overthrow of their old ally the shah. They helped to start a war against the new regime in Iran. Not a war with US soldiers; a war with the soldiers of the dictator of neighbouring Iraq, Saddam Hussein.

Saddam Hussein was an ally. He had ‘always been an ally’ of ‘Oceania’.

In this video, Donald Rumsfeld, later George W Bush’s Secretary of War ‘Defense’ during the Iraq war, greets Saddam Hussein.

From the (Conservative) Daily Mail in Britain in 2003, just before the start of the Iraq war:

Rumsfeld ‘helped Iraq get chemical weapons

By WILLIAM LOWTHER

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld helped Saddam Hussein build up his arsenal of deadly chemical and biological weapons, it was revealed last night.

As an envoy from President Reagan 19 years ago, he had a secret meeting with the Iraqi dictator and arranged enormous military assistance for his war with Iran.

The CIA had already warned that Iraq was using chemical weapons almost daily. But Mr Rumsfeld, at the time a successful executive in the pharmaceutical industry, still made it possible for Saddam to buy supplies from American firms.

They included viruses such as anthrax and bubonic plague, according to the Washington Post.

The extraordinary details have come to light because thousands of State Department documents dealing with the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war have just been declassified and released under the Freedom of Information Act.

At the very least, it is highly embarrassing for 70-year-old Mr Rumsfeld, who is the most powerful and vocal of all the hawks surrounding President Bush.

He bitterly condemns Saddam as a ruthless and brutal monster and frequently backs up his words by citing the use of the very weapons which it now appears he helped to supply.

The question is: Why has he never said anything about his role in the negotiations?

Donald Rumsfeld has some explaining to do,’ a senior Pentagon official said last night, while Congressional sources said that a Senate Committee was considering opening hearings to investigate exactly what happened.

The documents could hardly have been released at a worse time for Mr Rumsfeld, who is building up troops in the Gulf in preparation for a war with Iraq that is generally expected to start in about a month.

They will also embarrass Tony Blair as he attempts to build international support for military action.

And they will cause a headache for the Foreign Office, because the news will be seen by Islamic countries as a prime example of American hypocrisy over the issue.

For years Middle Eastern countries have accused the US of double-talk over Iraq. They are bitterly critical that the American government helped arm Saddam during the 1980s in a war against Iran, which at that time Washington regarded as its biggest enemy in the region.

America’s critics are now disgusted by the way the administration has performed a somersault, and now expects them to agree that Saddam’s regime should be treated as a pariah.

This will make it even harder to persuade neighbouring states to offer Western troops bases and landing strips vital for such an onslaught.

But one thing was clear last night – President Bush will not let the embarrassment prevent him from forging ahead with his plans to attack Baghdad, and if that does happen Mr Blair will have no choice but to join him in the attack.

It was in late 1983 that Ronald Reagan made Mr Rumsfeld his envoy as the Iranians gained the upper hand in their war with Iraq.

Terrified that the Iranian Islamic revolution would spread through the Gulf and into Saudi Arabia – threatening US oil supplies – Mr Reagan sent Mr Rumsfeld to prop up Saddam and keep the Iranian militants within their own borders.

The State Department documents show that Mr Rumsfeld flew to Baghdad where he had a 90-minute meeting with Saddam followed by a much longer session with foreign minister Tariq Aziz.

‘It was a horrible mistake,’ former CIA military analyst Kenneth Pollack said last night.

‘We were warning at the time that Hussein was a very nasty character. We were constantly fighting the State Department.’

On November 1, 1983, a full month before Mr Rumsfeld’s visit to Baghdad, Secretary of State George Shultz was officially informed that the CIA had discovered Iraqi troops were resorting to ‘almost daily use of chemical weapons’ against the Iranians.

Nevertheless, Mr Rumsfeld arranged for the Iraqis to receive billions of pounds in loans to buy weapons and CIA Director William Casey used a Chilean front company to supply Iraq with cluster bombs.

According to the Washington Post, a Senate committee investigating the relationship between the US and Iraq discovered that in the mid-1980s – following the Rumsfeld visit – dozens of biological agents were shipped to Iraq under licence from the Commerce Department.

They included anthrax, subsequently identified by the Pentagon as a key component of the Iraqi biological warfare programme.

The newspaper says: ‘The Commerce Department also approved the export of insecticides to Iraq, despite widespread suspicions that they were being used for chemical warfare.’

At the time of his meeting with Saddam, Mr Rumsfeld was working for Searle – a company which dealt only in medicinal pharmaceuticals.

Both he and Searle made all their money from the distribution of a cardiovascular drug.

And no one in the US has ever suggested that Mr Rumsfeld had any personal interest at stake in the Iraq meetings.

The Defence Secretary was making no comment last night.

There was not just the Rumsfeld-Saddam scandal during the US Reagan administration. There was only the Iran/Contra scandal; in which the Reagan administration sold weapons to the regime in Iran (illegal under United States law), using the money to arm mercenaries of the overthrown Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua (also illegal under United States law).

And now, to a colleague of Rumsfeld in the Reagan administration and later in the George W Bush administration: Dick Cheney.

This video from the USA is called Cheney ’94: Invading Baghdad Would Create Quagmire.

Dick Cheney’s corporation Halliburton sold Iran key nuclear reactor components, as turned out in 2005.

Like Rumsfeld’s selling of chemical weapons to Saddam Hussein later did not hinder Rumsfeld at starting a bloody war in Iraq, where meanwhile there were no chemical weapons any more; Cheney’s selling of nuclear components to Iran later did not hinder Cheney in advocating war on Iran, recently and while he was Bush’s Vice President. Iran, which was supposedly close to getting nuclear weapons (which Cheney’s own intelligence services denied.)

Not so long ago, hardliners in the government of Israel, proxies of hardliners in Washington, had plans to start a war against Iran; though most Israeli people and quite some generals in Israel opposed that.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali (not her real name, but that is another long story), neoconservative Islamophobic pro-war ideologist, said, when interviewed on Dutch TV in 2008, that George W Bush had invaded Iraq. OK. He had invaded Afghanistan. OK. But Ms Hirsi Ali said she was not really ready to call George W Bush a good president of the USA as long as he had not invaded Iran yet.

What will Ms Hirsi Ali say now: ‘Iran is an ally. Iran has always been an ally’? I would not be that surprised.

“Nearly 300 armed American forces are being positioned in and around Iraq to help secure U.S. assets as President Barack Obama nears a decision on an array of options for combating fast-moving Islamic insurgents, including airstrikes or a contingent of special forces.” John Kerry has said the U.S. is open to discussions with Iran and considering drone strikes.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that Washington was willing to talk to Iran about collaborating to beat back a Sunni insurgency led by the Al Qaeda offshoot Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. ISIS has already gained control of most of Iraq’s Sunni regions in northern and central Iraq and is threatening Baghdad: here.

The threat to Iraq’s unity from a rapid Islamist advance is another disastrous consequence of the 2003 invasion, writes ANDREW MURRAY: here.

How US policy on Iran came to be based on fabricated documents: here.

DEPUTY Oil Minister for International and Trade Affairs Ali Majedi has voiced Iran’s readiness to speedily replace Iraq oil in the world market if Baghdad was forced to stop its exports due to its security crisis. Making this attempt to curry favour with the USA he told IRNA on Saturday that Iran could replace Iraq oil in the world market in a short time: here.

US President Barack Obama has indicated that he favors extending the six-month interim nuclear agreement the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China entered into with Iran at the beginning of the year: here.

The former supreme commander of NATO argued that now is the time to step up talks with Iran.

Greek nazi bites off Iranian refugee’s ear


Iranian refugee with ear bitten off

From Dawn of the Greeks blog:

Iranian man describes how ear was bitten off in racist attack in Athens

Posted on January 10, 2014 by dawnofthegreeks

Young Iranian migrant who had his ear bitten off in a suspected racist attack says the experience shows him that there is ‘no culture, no love’ in Europe

A young migrant from Iran who says he was the target of a racist attack about two months ago in central Athens has described how one of his assailants bit his ear off. In a recorded video interview with a international humanitarian aid organisation, the man, who identifies himself as Shaid, said that he was set on by three men dressed in black

the colour of the uniforms of the paramilitary thugs of the nazi party Golden Dawn

as he was speaking on the phone near Metaxourgiou Square.

“They beat me. After one of them put his hand around my neck and got me in a headlock, he bit his teeth into my ear. I was bleeding and my ear fell to the ground,” he said in a recorded video interview with Médecins du Monde.

Shaid initially was not aware of what had been done to him. He was spotted by a friend, who came to his rescue and took him – and his severed ear – to hospital, where attempts to reattach the ear failed and doctors had to remove it. After he was discharged from hospital two weeks later, he approached Médecins du Monde, which has helped him come to terms with what has happened. “All I can say to immigrants who leave their county is that things might be better for them at home. I see no civilisation in Europe. No culture, no love,” he said.

source: enetenglish

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Dutch birds’ Iranian DNA research


This video from the Netherlands says about itself:

Our bird feeder in South Holland, The Netherlands. Birds of the Netherlands! You can see high resolution photographs and HD video of these mostly typical, but beautiful Dutch bird types:

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Grote bonte specht), Eurasian Jay (Vlaamse Gaai), Blue Tit (Pimpelmees), Great Tit (Koolmees), House Sparrow (Huismus), Common Blackbird (Merel), Ring-Rosed Parakeet (Halsbandparkiet), European Robin (Roodborst), Magpie (Ekster) and the Common Starling (Spreeuw).

Bird Resources in The Netherlands —

For getting the Dutch name of birds in English…

Top 50 Most Common Birds of The Netherlands – Top 50 meest voorkomende vogels in Nederland:

http://www.vogelvisie.nl/top50.php

List of birds of the Netherlands: here.

From ScienceDaily:

DNA Barcodes Made of 147 Bird Species from The Netherlands

Dec. 30, 2013 — DNA barcoding is used as an effective tool for both the identification of known species and the discovery of new ones. The core idea of DNA barcoding is based on the fact that just a small portion of a single gene already can show that there is less variation between the individuals of one species than between those of several species.

Thus, when comparing two barcode sequences one can establish whether these belong to one single species (viz. when the amount of variation falls within the ‘normal’ range of the taxon under consideration and below a certain threshold level) or possibly to two species (when the amount exceeds this level).

A recent study in the open access journal ZooKeys sequenced 388 individuals of 147 bird species from The Netherlands. 95% of these species were represented by a unique barcode, but with six species of gulls and skuas having at least one shared barcode. This is best explained by these species representing recent radiations with ongoing hybridization. In contrast, one species, the Western Lesser Whitethroat showed deep divergences between individuals, suggesting that they possibly represent two distinct taxa, the Western and the Northeastern Lesser Whitethroat.

Our study adds to a growing body of DNA barcodes that have become available for birds, and shows that a DNA barcoding approach enables to identify known Dutch bird species with a very high resolution. In addition, some species were flagged up for further detailed taxonomic investigation, illustrating that even in ornithologically well-known areas such as the Netherlands, more is to be learned about the birds that are present.

“The barcoding approach is particularly useful in musea,” comments Dr. Aliabadian, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran, “This illustrates the value of DNA tissue vouchers ‘ready for use’ from the bird collection of the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden.”

Leopards in Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan


This video is called In the Balance: The Caucasus Leopard.

From Wildlife Extra:

Assessing suitable leopard habitat in Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan

Mapping the Persian leopard habitat connectivity in the Iranian sector of the Caucasus ecoregion

September 2013. Drastic declines in the Persian leopard population in the Middle East and particularly in Caucasus, has attracted attention of researchers and conservationists to the status of this subspecies in the region.

Consequently various countries in the Persian leopard range in the Caucasus have launched an attempt to address the status of leopards in the area. However, the major population of the Persian leopards are known to inhabit in Iran. As a result, leopard status in Iran and particularly in North-west of the country plays an important role in survival of the Persian leopards in the region.

Iran’s Persian leopard project

The three bordering provinces of West Azerbaijan, Ardebil and East Azerbaijan that provide common habitats and corridors between Iran and the neighbouring countries in Caucasus; of these East Azerbaijan province has the longest border line and the most common leopard potential habitats with the two neighbouring countries of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Since April 2012, Department of Environment of Iran together with the East Azarbaijan provincial DoE office and Asian Leopard Specialist Society, embarked on a project to measure the Persian leopard population, potential habitats and corridors in the region, prey status and active threats affecting leopard survival and habitats’ connectivity in the region.

The first phase of the project has been completed recently and resulted in first-hand information on potential leopard habitats and corridors among them as well as active threats in and around critical habitats.

Last chances to keep leopard areas in North-western Iran connected:

East Azarbaijan province, covering an area of 45663 Km² in North-western Iran, was divided to four study zones for field data collection and further analysis.

This study estimates that 27% of the studied region in North-western Iran covering 37 main and distinct habitats could be considered as potential leopard areas. The largest potential habitats with high degree of suitability are mainly located in north of the province bordering with neighbouring countries of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

At the next level, habitats in south east of the province bordering with Ardebil and Zanjan provinces of Iran are the largest leopard potential habitats with most corridors and connections available among them. However, habitats in southern and south western parts of the province are more scattered and isolated. Areas among these habitats are disturbed by various human activities such as the cultivation lands and agriculture, road networks and populated areas.

It is worth mentioning that collaborative research and conservation efforts in countries of the region together with financial and technical contribution of international organizations are essential to ensure the Persian leopard habitat connectivity in transboundary areas.

Next step of the project:

We are in the early stage of the second phase of the Persian leopard project in the borderline habitats in Caucasus ecoregion. In this phase we plan to conduct more detail studies including systematic camera trappings to address population estimates and occupancy status assessments of the leopards and their prey in each identified habitat. We have already purchased equipment required to conduct telemetry studies during the current phase of the project.

The study was conducted by Arezoo Sanei, Executive Director at Asian Leopard Specialist Society, Tehran, Iran; Mohamad Reza Masoud, Senior Wildlife Expert at Department of Environment, East-Azarbaijan Provincial Office; and Hossein Mohammadi General Director, Biodiversity and Wildlife Bureau, Department of the Environment, Tehran, Iran.

Syrian boy, a future interview


This 2012 video from London, England says about itself:

ANDREW MURRAY, Rally Against Military Intervention in Iran and Syria, Stop The War Coalition.

This is a fictional interview. The scene is set in the future. The future of tomorrow; or maybe of the day after tomorrow. Or a still later future. I hope: a future which will never happen.

The “I” in the story meets a happy looking boy in Syria.

I ask: “Where is your father?”

“A government army bomb killed my father”.

“Where is your mother?”

“An anti-government al-Qaeda bomb killed my mother”.

“How terrible, my boy! … But … why are you smiling?”

“An hour ago, a NATO bomb killed my brother and my sister. That is supposed to make me happy. That bomb showed that the Western governments have realized that “doing nothing is not an option”. It showed that they had understood what Tony Blair, the Middle East peace envoy, has expressed so eloquently: “Stop hand-wringing and start action.” Never mind what action.”

From the Stop the War Coalition in Britain:

Emergency protest: No attack on Syria

Stop the War Coalition, 28 August 2013.

Syria protest

London: Downing Street, 5—7pm, Wednesday 28th August

Britain, France and the US are committing to another disastrous military intervention. Apart from the inevitable casualties, any attack on Syria can only inflame an already disastrous civil war and would risk pulling in regional powers further.

Most people in this country have learnt from the disasters of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. According to a Telegraph/YouGuv poll on Sunday only 9% of the British public would support troops being sent to Syria, and only 16% support sending more arms to the region. Our politicians however have learnt nothing.

We need the maximum level of protest to stop them plunging us in to yet another catastrophic war.

Join the Facebook event here.

There will be a further protest at the weekend – details to come.

Britain: Peace campaigners today warned MPs against being hoodwinked into supporting a disastrous military adventure in Syria during Thursday’s emergency recall of Parliament: here.

German media beats the drum for war against Syria: here.

Albino jackal in Iran


White golden jackal. Image courtesy of the Iranian Cheetah Society

From Wildlife Extra:

Albino jackal spotted in Iran

White jackal caught by camera trap

July 2013. An (probably) albino jackal, a medium-sized canid which is widespread in western Asia, has been caught on camera in south-eastern Iran during a research project into the population survey of the Asiatic cheetah in the Ravar Wildlife Refuge.

Albinism is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. Albinism results from inheritance of recessive gene alleles and is known to affect all vertebrates, including humans. Albinism has not been common among golden jackals but there are few cases from west Asia dating back to 1970s. In contrast, recently [a] melanistic golden jackal has been also reported from Turkey.

A ‘true’ albino has no colouring at all, and many features such as eyes and ears, appear pink. This jackal does have a hint of colouring around the eyes and nose, so it may be ‘leucistic’, or more probably, this is just a trick of the light as the image is taken at night.

Leucism (or Leukism)

Leucism is a very unusual condition whereby the pigmentation cells in an animal or bird fail to develop properly. This can result in unusual white patches appearing on the animal, or, more rarely, completely white creatures.

Click here to see our gallery of albino and leucistic animals and birds.

Ravar Wildlife Refuge

With an area of 15,000 km2, Ravar Wildlife Refuge is part of the Asiatic cheetah monitoring program that the Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS) leads within multiple reserves in Iran in partnership with Iranian Department of Environment, Conservation of Asiatic Cheetah Project (CACP) and Panthera. Since early autumn 2012, the ICS’ experts have been surveying the area while training game wardens with monitoring skills. However, unlike other cheetah habitats in the country, Ravar is not an easy area to do field surveys, as it is near the border with Afghanistan and has a high chance of encountering drug smuggling caravans. The project will continue until the end of summer 2013.

Iranian cheetahs need more space


This video is called Speed Kills : This is Why You Can’t Outrun a Cheetah.

From Wildlife Extra:

Iranian cheetahs need large and secure reserves to ensure their survival

Study reveals that cheetahs struggle to survive in small and fragmented reserves

August 2013. According to a recent investigation, Asiatic cheetahs that have the largest ranges normally live longer than cheetahs with restricted ranges.

Analysis of more than 100 cheetah individuals recorded during past decade in Iran indicates that a reserves’ size and integrity can contribute to better survival rates of the critically endangered Asiatic cheetahs in Iran.

Kavir, Turan and Naybandan are the most important large sites for the cheetahs in the country. However, in contrast, cheetahs occurring within smaller areas have been recorded on camera traps for shorter periods, normally less than two years. The maximum known presence of a cheetah in smaller areas is around three years.

Cover large distances

The Asiatic cheetahs are known to walk long distances and cover large areas in search for food, safety and a mate. Accordingly, the smaller their habitat, the greater the necessity that they will be forced outside of protected areas, thus encountering people and roads. And whilst smaller reserves have a significantly better law enforcement, the cheetahs are often do not make it back inside the security of the reserve.

Jointly conducted by Conservation of Asiatic Cheetah project (CACP) and the Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS), the research reveals high importance of large and intact areas for securing longer survival of the cheetahs in Iran. Moreover, a network of smaller reserves which are inter-connected can be crucial to help save the cheetahs‘ lives.

September 2013. A new research study has revealed that the cheetah, the world’s fastest land animal, matches and may even anticipate the escape tactics of different prey when hunting, rather than just relying on its speed and agility, as previously thought: here.

Ancient Persian history


This video says about itself:

Feb 20, 2012

A clay cylinder covered in Akkadian cuneiform script, damaged and broken, the Cyrus Cylinder is a powerful symbol of religious tolerance and multi-culturalism. In this enthralling talk Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, traces 2600 years of Middle Eastern history through this single object.

By Michal Boncza in Britain:

The Cyrus Cylinder And Ancient Persia: New Beginning For The Middle East

Tuesday 06 August 2013

John Curtis

(British Museum £25)

Legend has it that during one of the early Iraq-Iran wars between the Babylonian and Persian empires in 539 BC the regent of Babylon Belshazzar held a feast. During it, a mysterious hand spelled out his imminent demise on the wall.

That is the origin of the “writing on the wall” idiom and it is the theme of Rembrandt‘s painting Belshazzar’s Feast at the National Gallery collection in London.

Belshazzar's Feast, by Rembrandt

Belshazzar succeeded Nebuchadnezzar the conqueror of Palestine who, after ransacking Jerusalem, sent Jews and other tribes from the area into exile in Babylon.

By most accounts Babylon, which extended from southern Iraq to the Mediterranean, did not put up much of a resistance to the advancing Persians armies led by Cyrus.

Fast-forward to 1879 when during British Museum-led excavations of the inner city wall of Babylon, the “Imgur-Enlil,” by the ancient bed of the Euphrates a cylinder was found inscribed with cuneiform text.

Made of baked clay roughly the size of a rugby ball, about a third of it was missing.

Once the wholly or partially preserved 45 lines were deciphered their content intrigued archaeologists and historians alike.

Although it was common for kings of the period to order cylinders as foundation deposits for new buildings – as records of their achievements and policy statements – the breadth and scope of Cyrus’s intent was pretty unusual.

As British Museum director Neil MacGregor rather picturesquely puts it, “The cylinder is in effect a press release of a military commander eager to win over the conquered populations.”

Under Cyrus the Persian empire extended from Libya and Turkey in the west to Afghanistan in the east and to Cyrus’s credit he had invented a model of how to run a multilingual, multi-faith, multicultural society – a Marshal Tito of antiquity.

“I have enabled all the lands to live in peace,” the cylinder echoes Cyrus’s voice in line 36 of the cuneiform text.

His vision of the “Middle East as a coherent unit,” based on tolerance of diversity, offered the region 200 years of peace and prosperity that was brought to an abrupt end by the savagery and megalomania of Alexander the Great.

Crucially, line two of the cylinder has also provided archaeological proof that the Jewish Book of Chronicles and the Book of Ezra told the historic truth when praising Cyrus for freeing the Jews and encouraging them to return with all their religious paraphernalia to Jerusalem and restore the Temple: “The gods who lived therein, and made permanent sanctuaries for them. I collected all their people and returned them to their settlements.”

Greek historian Xenophon depicted him in Cyropedia as an exemplary ruler of a diverse society and his account affected Renaissance and Enlightment thinking in Europe, and ironically and only temporarily, on the Founding Fathers of the contemporary scourge of the Middle East, the US.

The UN has chosen the cylinder as a symbolic first-ever recorded declaration of human rights with a copy prominently displayed in its headquarters.

Whether there is any merit to such an attribution depends on personal preferences.

Israel’s first prime minister David Ben Gurion was a devotee but learnt zilch from it.

There is no denying its power to puzzle, fascinate and, most important of all, inspire to aspire. Therein, perhaps, lies the Cyrus Cylinder’s value to humanity.

A thoroughly enjoyable, informative and beautifully illustrated read.

3,000 Years of Human History, Described in One Set of Mathematical Equations: here.