Language > Behistun Inscription

Behistun Inscription


The Behistun Inscription is an ancient multilingual inscription located on Mount Behistun in present-day Iran. Carved on a cliff face, it was commissioned by Darius the Great, the king of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, around 520 BCE. The inscription is written in three ancient languages: Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian (a form of Akkadian). The Behistun Inscription served as a monumental proclamation of Darius's achievements and the legitimacy of his rule.

It aimed to assert Darius's authority following his ascension to the throne and to quell potential rebellions by detailing his conquests and victories. The inscription recounts the rise of Darius to power, starting with his lineage and accession to the throne, followed by accounts of his military campaigns and conquests. The inscription is written in three languages: Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian (Akkadian). Each version provides parallel translations of the same content.

The Behistun Inscription is one of the most important historical texts from ancient Persia, providing valuable insights into the Achaemenid Empire's history, culture, and language. The inscription played a crucial role in the decipherment of cuneiform script and the understanding of ancient Near Eastern languages. The inscription reflects the geopolitical landscape of the time, documenting Darius's conquests and the incorporation of diverse peoples and territories into the Persian Empire.

Carving and Location

The inscription is carved on a sheer limestone cliff face on Mount Behistun, located in western Iran. The inscription is situated at a considerable height above the ground, making it accessible only by climbing equipment or scaffolding. The Behistun Inscription is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, symbolizing the cultural and historical significance of ancient Persia. It continues to be the subject of scholarly study and research, providing valuable information about ancient Persian history, language, and society.

The Behistun Inscription stands as a monumental testament to the achievements and ambitions of Darius the Great and the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Its multilingual text and detailed narrative have contributed significantly to our understanding of ancient Near Eastern history and the development of written languages. As a symbol of Persian cultural heritage, it continues to fascinate scholars and visitors alike, offering a window into the rich and complex history of ancient Iran.

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