October 29 (7th of Aban) is nominated as the international day of “Cyrus the Great”, the King of Persia, who declared the first charter of human rights in the world, also known as the Cyrus Cylinder.
Iranians believe that October 29 is the anniversary of the entrance of Cyrus into Babylon.
In October 539 BCE, the Persian King took Babylon, the ancient capital of an oriental empire covering modern Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel.
The day is celebrated by Iranian communities in different countries such as Iran, the United States and the United Kingdom. For example, it was celebrated in the city of Cambridge, U.K. in 2009 and in 2010.
Who was Cyrus the Great?
Cyrus the Great was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much of Central Asia and the Caucasus.
From the Mediterranean Sea and Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east, Cyrus the Great created the largest empire the world had yet seen.
Under his successors, the empire eventually stretched from parts of the Balkans (Bulgaria-Pannonia) and Thrace-Macedonia in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east.
He also proclaimed what has been identified by scholars and archaeologist to be the oldest known declaration of human rights, which was transcribed onto the Cyrus Cylinder sometime between 539 and 530 BC.
The reign of Cyrus the Great lasted between 29 and 31 years. Cyrus built his empire by conquering first the Median Empire, then the Lydian Empire and eventually the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Either before or after Babylon, he led an expedition into central Asia, which resulted in major campaigns that were described as having brought “into subjection every nation without exception”.
Cyrus did not venture into Egypt, as he himself died in battle, fighting the Massagetae along the Syr Darya in December 530 BC. He was succeeded by his son, Cambyses II, who managed to add to the empire by conquering Egypt, Nubia, and Cyrenaica during his short rule.
Cyrus the Great respected the customs and religions of the lands he conquered. It is said that in universal history, the role of the Achaemenid Empire founded by Cyrus lies in its very successful model for centralized administration and establishing a government working to the advantage and profit of its subjects. In fact, the administration of the empire through satraps and the vital principle of forming a government at Pasargadae were the works of Cyrus.
Cyrus the Great is also well recognized for his achievements in human rights, politics, and military strategy, as well as his influence on both Eastern and Western civilizations. Having originated from Persis, roughly corresponding to the modern Iranian province of Fars, Cyrus has played a crucial role in defining the national identity of modern Iran. Cyrus and, indeed, the Achaemenid influence in the ancient world also extended as far as Athens, where many Athenians adopted aspects of the Achaemenid Persian culture as their own, in a reciprocal cultural exchange.