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Behistun Inscription

Behistun Inscription (bāhĭstōnˈ, bə–, bēhĭsˈtŏn) [key] or Bisutun Inscription bēsōtōnˈ, bēsə–, cuneiform text, the decipherment of which was the key to all cuneiform script and opened to scholars the study of the written works of ancient Mesopotamia. The inscription in Old Persian, in Susian (the Iranian language of Elam), and in Assyrian is chiseled on the face of a mountainous rock c.300 ft (90 m) above the ground at Behistun, Persia (modern W Iran). A bas-relief depicting Darius I with a group of captive chiefs is carved together with the inscription. Although the rock was known in ancient times (Diodorus attributed the carvings to Semiramis), it was not until 1835 that Sir Henry Rawlinson scaled it and copied the inscriptions. Rawlinson translated the Persian section of the inscription, which later led to the entire decipherment of the Assyrian text.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on Behistun Inscription from Infoplease:

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  • Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson - Rawlinson, Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson, Sir Henry Creswicke, 1810–95, English Orientalist ...
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  • Darius I - Darius I Darius I (Darius the Great), d. 486 B.C., king of ancient Persia (521–486 B.C.), ...
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See more Encyclopedia articles on: Ancient History, Middle East


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