Intl. experts to reread Bisotun inscriptions

May 26, 2012 - 15:24
TEHRAN -- The Bisotun inscriptions of Darius the Great engraved on a rock near the city of Kermanshah are scheduled to be reread by four experts from foreign academic centers in the near future.
Professor Wouter F. M. Henkelman of the German Archaeological Institute, Professor Bruno Jacobs of the University of Basel, Professor Johannes Hackl of the University of Vienna, and Joan De Winne of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium will carry out the study.
The study has been organized by the Bisotun Cultural Heritage Center (BCHC) to complement the previous studies on the inscriptions, BCHC director Hossein Raei told the Persian service of the CHN on Saturday.
He also said that another focus of the study would be those parts of the inscriptions that have been damaged over the years.
According to an agreement between the experts and the BCHC, the entire results of the study will be submitted to the BCHC, Raei noted.
The first efforts to decipher the inscriptions were made by the British adventurer and scholar Henry Creswicke Rawlinson in 1835. He completed his studies in 1844.
Professor of Indo-Iranian languages at Columbia University William Jackson revised Rawlinson’s studies in 1903.
The inscriptions were entirely studied by George Glenn Cameron of the University of Michigan in 1948 and 1949.
Bisotun (also known as Bistun), an ancient Iranian site bearing bas-reliefs and inscriptions of Darius the Great, was registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2006.
The site is located in western Iran, 30 kilometers east of the provincial capital Kermanshah, at the foot of the Zagros Mountains.
The area was on the ancient trade route linking the Iranian high plateau with Mesopotamia and contains remains from prehistoric times to the Median and Achaemenid eras.
The principal monument of this archaeological site is the bas-relief and cuneiform inscription ordered by Darius the Great shortly after he ascended to the throne of the Persian Empire in 521 BC.
The bas-relief portrays Darius holding a bow, as a sign of sovereignty and treading on the chest of a figure who is lying on his back before him. According to legend, the figure represents Gaumata, the Median Magus and pretender to the throne whose assassination led to Darius’s rise to power.
Below and around the bas-reliefs, there are about 1,200 lines of inscriptions telling the story of the battles Darius waged in 521-520 BC against the governors who attempted to take apart the empire founded by Cyrus.
The inscription is written in three languages. The oldest is an Elamite text referring to legends describing the king and the rebellions. This is followed by a Babylonian version of similar legends. The last phase of the inscription is particularly important, as it is here that Darius introduced for the first time the Old Persian version of his res gestae (things done).
This is the only known monumental text of the Achaemenids to document the re-establishment of the empire by Darius I. It also bears witness to the interchange of influences in the development of monumental art and writing in the region of the Persian Empire. There are also remains from the Median period (8th to 7th centuries BC) as well as from the Achaemenid (6th to 4th centuries BC) and post-Achaemenid periods.