The Cyrus Cylinder and Ashoka's edicts
#1
This fascinating TED talk on the Cyrus Cylinder accounts the ongoing story of what was perhaps the first manifesto of a pluralistic society the world has ever known.

http://www.ted.com/talks/neil_macgregor_...bject.html

The talk has interesting asides about how the Cyrus Cylinder testifies to the all-too-human origin of Biblical accounts which orthodoxy maintains are of divine origin, served the American Founding Fathers as a historical precedent to Church-State separation and First Amendment rights, serves today as a refutation of the unfair treatment the Persian empire receives in popular-culture portrayals and can still serve to remind the subjects of a theocratic administration of their more liberal roots.

Closer home, Ashoka's rock edicts as described by Michael Wood in this video can serve a similar instructive and inspirational function, and can serve to provide sounder models of nationhood today than some other recently suggested 'national books'.
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