Khark stone inscription may add five new words to ancient Persian

November 21, 2007

TEHRAN -- It is possible that five words have been added to our knowledge of the ancient Persian language by the recent discovery of a stone inscription on Khark Island in the Persian Gulf, the Persian service of CHN reported on Tuesday.

The cuneiform inscription, comprising six words on six different horizontal lines inscribed on a piece of uneven rock encrusted with corals, has been found last week during a road construction project. Measuring about a meter square, the rock has become detached from its original terrain.
Initial studies show the artifact dates back to the Achaemenid era.
The first, second, fifth and sixth words are quite easily legible, but the third and fourth words are difficult to make out due to erosion, explained expert on ancient languages Reza Moradi Ghiasabadi.
Moradi has deciphered the inscription from photos sent to him by the people living near the site of the relic.
According to Moradi, the first word reads “aahe” or “ahe”, which means “was” or “were”. This word has frequently been observed in ancient Persian inscriptions. However, the other five words are new discoveries.
The second word reads “sakosha” or “sakusha”.
“This word obviously denotes a particular name, which has so far never been seen in any ancient inscription, but it is similar to words used by the Scythians,” Moradi said.
Only two letters of the third word are legible and these read “hi”. Again, only two letters of the fourth word are decipherable and these are pronounced “ka” and “aa”.
The fifth word reads “bahanam”, for which no meaning has been found.
The sixth word seems to be damaged but the end of it reads “kha”.
The inscription has been made both quickly and carelessly and its writer has not used the cuneiform comma as every word has been inscribed on a separate line.
The artifact has three crown-shaped motifs inscribed in a side-ways fashion in the middle of the inscription and also at the beginning of the third and fourth lines. The motifs are similar to the crowns of the Sassanid kings.
--------Inscription’s authenticity doubtful
Moradi urged that the object should first be examined for authenticity.
He cited some points which throw doubt on the genuineness of the inscription: careless and fast writing -- which is not commonly observed in previously discovered Achaemenid inscriptions -- slight layers of sediment on the edges and insides of the letters, multi-typography style of the inscription, unknown words and the use of strange motifs resembling the Sassanid kings’ crown in an allegedly Achaemenid artifact