Livius.Org Anatolia Carthage Egypt Germ. Inf. Greece Judaea Mesopotamia Persia Rome Other

Achaemenid Royal Inscriptions: XPh ("Daiva inscription")


The 'daiva inscription' of Xerxes, found at Persepolis. Archaeological Museum, Tehran (Iran). Photo Marco Prins.
The 'daiva inscription' of Xerxes, found at Persepolis. Archaeological Museum, Tehran (Iran).
In ca.521, the Persian king Darius I the Great ordered that a new alphabet, the Aryan script, was to be developed. This was used for a small corpus of inscriptions, known as the Achaemenid Royal Inscriptions. An overview of all inscriptions can be found here.

One of the most important Achaemenid Royal Inscriptions is the "Daiva inscription". The Old Persian text is known from three slabs of stone from Persepolis and the citadel of Pasargadae. (Elamite and Babylonian copies exist.) The interesting detail for which this text has become famous is the rebel country mentioned in section #4, although -unfortunately- it cannot be identified with sufficient certainty. Much depends on the meaning of the word daiva, which clearly means 'demon' and looks similar to the word daeva in the Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrianism . If daiva and daeva are identical, we can assume that the rebels lived in Iran, where the Zoroastrian religion was influential.

However, if these words are not the same, daiva may refer to the gods of Babylonia or Egypt. The latter is mentioned by the Greek researcher Herodotus as rebellious at the beginning of Xerxes reign (Histories 7.4), and we know from cuneiform texts from Babylon that there were two Babylonion rebels in 484 (Šamaš-eriba and BÍl-šim‚nni). We can not decide where Xerxes had to intervene - Iran, Egypt, or Babylon, but the text is intriguing.

Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine


  1. baga \ vazraka \ Auramazd‚ \ hya \ im‚m \ bŻm
  2. im \ ad‚ \ hya \ avam \ asm‚nam \ ad‚ \ hya
  3. \ martiyam \ ad‚ \ hya \ šiy‚tim \ ad‚ \
  4. martiyahy‚ \ hya \ Xšay‚rš‚m \ xš‚yathi
  5. yam \ akunauš \ aivam \ parun‚m \ xš‚yath
  6. iyam \ aivam \ parun‚m \ fram‚t‚ram \ ada
  7. m \ Xšay‚rš‚ \ xš‚yathiya \ vazraka \ xš‚ya
  8. thiya \ xš‚yathiy‚n‚m \ xš‚yathiya \ dahy
  9. un‚m \ paruv \ zan‚n‚m \ xš‚yathiya \ ah
  10. y‚y‚ \ bumiy‚ \ vazrak‚y‚ \ dŻraiy \ a
  11. piy \ D‚rayavahauš \ xš‚yathiyahy‚ \ puÁa
  12. \ Hax‚manišiya \ P‚rsa \ P‚rsahy‚ \ puÁa
  13. \ Ariya \ AriyaciÁa \ th‚tiy \ Xšay‚rš‚
  14. \ xš‚yathiya \ vašn‚ \ Auramazdah‚ \ im‚ \
  15. dahy‚va \ tyaiš‚m \ adam \ xš‚yathiya \ ‚h
  16. ‚m \ apataram \ hac‚ \ P‚rs‚ \ adamš‚m \
  17. patiyaxšayaiy \ man‚ \ b‚jim \ abaraha \ t
  18. yaš‚m \ hac‚ma \ athahiya \ ava \ akunava \ d
  19. ‚tam \ tya \ man‚ \ avadiš \ ad‚raya \ M‚da
  20. \ Uja \ Harauvatiš \ Armina \ Zraka \ Parthava
  21. \ Haraiva \ B‚xtriš \ Sugda \ Uv‚razmi
  22. š \ B‚biruš \ Athur‚ \ Thataguš \ Sparda
  23. \ Mudr‚ya \ Yaun‚ \ tya \ drayahiy‚ \ d‚
  24. rayatiy \ ut‚ \ tyaiy \ paradraya \ d‚rayat
  25. iy \ Maciy‚ \ Arab‚ya \ Gad‚ra \ Hiduš \
  26. Katpatuka \ Dah‚ \ Sak‚ \ haumavarg‚ \ Sak‚
  27. \ tigraxaud‚ \ Skudr‚ \ ¬kaufaciy‚ \
  28. Put‚y‚ \ Kark‚ \ Kušiya \ th‚tiy \ Xša
1. A great god is Ahuramazda, who created this earth, who created yonder sky, who created man, who created happiness for man, who made Xerxes king, one king of many, one lord of many.

2. I am Xerxes, the great king, king of kings, king of countries containing many kinds of men, king in this great earth far and wide, son of king Darius, an Achaemenian, a Persian, son of a Persian, an Aryan, of Aryan stock.

3. King Xerxes says: By the grace of Ahuramazda these are the countries of which I was king apart from Persia. I had lordship over them. They bore me tribute. What was said to them by me, that they did. My law, that held them: Media, Elam, Arachosia, Armenia, Drangiana, Parthia, Aria, Bactria, Sogdia, Chorasmia, Babylonia, Assyria, Sattagydia, Lydia, Egypt, Yaun‚, those who dwell on this side of the sea and those who dwell across the sea, men of Maka, Arabia, Gandara, India, Cappadocia, theDahae, the haoma-drinking Sacae, the Sacae wearing pointed caps, Thrace, men of ¬kaufaciy‚, Libyans, Carians, and the Nubians.



  1. y‚rš‚ / xš‚yathiya / yath‚ / tya / adam / x
  2. š‚yathiya / abavam / astiy / atar / ait‚
  3. / dahy‚va / tyaiy / upariy / nipišt‚ / a
  4. yauda / pas‚vamaiy / Auramazd‚ / upast‚m /
  5. abara / vašn‚ / Auramazdah‚ / ava / dahy‚vam
  6. / adam / ajanam / utašim / g‚thav‚ / niš‚da
  7. yam / ut‚ / atar / ait‚ / dahy‚va / ‚ha / yad
  8. ‚tya / paruvam / daiv‚ / ayadiya / pas‚va / va
  9. šn‚ / Auramazdah‚ / adam / avam / daivad‚na
  10. m / viyakanam / ut‚ / patiyazbayam / daiv‚ /
  11. m‚ / yadiyaiša / yad‚y‚ / paruvam / daiv‚ /
  12. ayadiya / avad‚ / adam / Auramazd‚m / ayada
  13. iy / art‚c‚ / brazmaniya / ut‚ / aniyaš
  14. ca / ‚ha / tya / duškartam / akariya / ava / ada
  15. m / naibam / akunavam / aita / tya / adam / ak
  16. unavam / visam / vašn‚ / Auramazdah‚ / aku
  17. navam / Auramazd‚maiy upast‚m / abara / y
  18. ‚t‚ / kartam / akunavam / tuva / k‚ / hya /
  19. apara / yadimaniy‚iy / šiy‚ta / ahaniy
  20. / jiva / ut‚ / marta / art‚v‚ / ahaniy /
  21. avan‚ / d‚t‚ / paridiy / tya / Auramazd
  22. ‚ / nivašt‚ya / Auramazd‚m / yadaiš‚ / a
  23. rt‚c‚ / brazmaniya / martiya / hya / avan
  24. ‚ / d‚t‚ / pariyaita / tya / Auramazd‚ / n
  25. išt‚ya / ut‚ / Auramazd‚m / yadataiy / a
  26. rt‚c‚ / brazmaniya hauv / ut‚ / jiva /
  27. šiy‚ta / bavatiy / ut‚ / marta / art‚v‚
  28. / bavatiy / th‚tiy / Xšay‚rš‚ / xš‚yath
  29. iya / m‚m / Auramazd‚ / p‚tuv / hac‚ / ga
  30. st‚ / utamaiy / vitham / ut‚ / im‚m / dah
  31. y‚vam / aita / adam / Auramazd‚m / jadiy
  32. ‚miy / aitamaiy : Auramazd‚ / dad‚tuv
4. King Xerxes says: when I became king, there was among these countries one that was in rebellion. Ahuramazda bore me aid. By the grace of Ahuramazda I smote that country and put it down in its place.

And among these countries there was a place where previously demons (daiva) were worshipped. Afterwards, by the grace of Ahuramazda I destroyed that sanctuary of demons, and I proclaimed: 'The demons shall not be worshipped!' Where previously the demons were worshipped, there I worshipped Ahuramazda at the proper time and in the proper manner. And there was other business that had been done ill. That I made good. That which I did, all I did by the grace of Ahuramazda. Ahuramazda bore me aid until I completed the work.

You who may live hereafter, if you should think 'Happy may I be when living, and when dead may I be blessed,' have respect for that law which Ahuramazda has established. Worship Ahuramazda at the proper time and in the proper manner. The man who has respect for that law that Ahuramazda has established and worships Ahuramazda at the proper time and in the proper manner, he both becomes happy while alive and becomes blessed when dead.

5. King Xerxes says: May Ahuramazda protect me from harm, and my house, and this land. This I ask of Ahuramazda. This may Ahuramazda give to me.

© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2005
Revision: 16 October 2006
Livius.Org Anatolia Carthage Egypt Germ. Inf. Greece Judaea Mesopotamia Persia Rome Other