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It is currently in the possession of the British Museum, which sponsored the expedition that discovered the cylinder.

It was created and used as a foundation deposit following the Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, when the Neo-Babylonian Empire was invaded by Cyrus and incorporated into his Persian Empire.

He helped Rassam, who had been his assistant in the 1850 dig, to obtain a firman (decree) from the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II to continue the earlier excavations.

The firman was only valid for a year but a second firman, with much more liberal terms, was issued in 1878.

However, in a letter sent on 20 November 1879 to Samuel Birch, the Keeper of Oriental Antiquities at the British Museum, he wrote, "The Cylinder of Cyrus was found at Omran [Tell Amran-ibn-Ali] with about six hundred pieces of inscribed terracottas before I left Baghdad." He described it as "one of the most interesting historical records in the cuneiform character that has yet been brought to light," though he erroneously described it as coming from the ancient city of Borsippa rather than Babylon.

This was a major shrine to the chief Babylonian god Marduk, although its identity was not fully confirmed until the German archaeologist Robert Koldewey's excavation of 1900.It was granted for two years (through to 15 October 1880) with the promise of an extension to 1882 if required.The Sultan's decree authorised Rassam to "pack and dispatch to England any antiquities [he] found …Although the Cylinder clearly post-dates Cyrus the Great's conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, the date of its creation is unclear.It is commonly said to date to the early part of Cyrus's reign over Babylon, some time after 539 BC.

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