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Three Significant Events Including Cyrus the Great

Fall of Babylon to Persians

    On Cyrus's journey to Babylon he encountered the Gyndes River which flowed into the Tigris.  The river could only be passed by boat and when a white horse tried to walk over it, the river's current swept him away to death.  So Cyrus decided that he would reap vengeance on the river and he delayed the attack on Babylon to dig hundreds of trenches around the river and turned it into three hundred and sixty channels.  Then Cyrus marched on to battle the against the Babylonians as they waited without their walls.  The Persians won a battle outside the city so the Babylonians retreated to within their walls.  The Babylonians had been awaiting the attack of the Persians for many years so they stacked up many provisions and waited inside their walls.  So Cyrus came up with a plan to wait for the river to become shallow enough and then march through the city at the two points where the river entered and exited the city.  He then took a separate army to turn the Euphrates into a basin by building a canal.  The Persians then launched a surprise attack on the city of Babylon and easily took over the city in 539 B.C.E.    

 Map of Babylon


Cyrus vs. Croesus

   
Croesus wanted to engage in war with Persia. He asked an oracle if he would win the war, and the oracle told him that he would bring down the empire. He then took down the Syrians and their capital. At the same time, Cyrus and the Persians fought the Lydians in Cappadocia, and the winner of the battle is not known. After this incident, Croesus fled to Sardis in Lydia, and Cyrus followed him there, took down his army, and took him to Ecbatana. Here, he took over the Median Kingdom between 559 and 549 B.C.E.  In 546 B.C.E., he defeated Croesus and put Lydia under his rule.

Cyrus' Victory

Cyrus's Cylinder

    One of the important source for the history of Cyrus is the cuneiform writing on the Cylinder of Cyrus (above) discovered during excavations at Babylon which Cyrus entered in 539 B.C. In this written message to the Babylonians, dated 538-529 B.C., Cyrus declared: "I (am) Cyrus, the king of the world, the king of Babylon, the king of Sumer and Akkad, the king of the four regions . . . When I entered Tintar (ancient name of Babylon) peacefully . . . I established my sovereignty in the palace of the princes, Marduk (the Babylonian national god) inclined the noble hearts of the people of Babylon towards me, for I was daily attentive to his worship . . ."  Cyrus  respected the Babylonian religions and repaired the temples .

A French mission was excavating the foundations of the palace walls, a preliminary to their partial restoration, when they came across two stone tablets inscribed with cuneiform characters. As they soon realized, they had discovered the stones inscribed with the charter of the foundation of the palace of Darlus, placed beneath the walls at the end of the 6th century B.C. The tablets were preserved very well and were engraved on their six sides. The one placed under the east wall of a corridor bore a text in Akkadian an ancient language of Mesopotamia. used in cuneiform writing from about the 28th to the 1st century B.C. (photo right). The second, recovered from beneath the west wall, was inscribed in Elamite (the language of Elam, an ancient country to the east of Babylon). It is probable that a third tablet, Cyrus's Cylinder, with an inscription in ancient Persian - the third official language of the Empire- was also placed in the foundations.  This is a huge factor to our knowledge of Cyrus the Great.



cylinder