home   :    index    :    ancient Persia    :    Achaemenid Royal inscriptions

Some Achaemenid Royal inscriptions (1)



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. Many of them can be found (in translation) somewhere on the Livius website; on these pages, a part of the remainder will be collected. An overview of all inscriptions can be found here.
Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine



Inscription DPb, upside down, in the palace of Xerxes. Photo Marco Prins.
Inscription DPb, upside down,
in the palace of Xerxes

DPb, inscription from Persepolis

Inscription (in one line) on the garment of Darius on a relief in his Palace, and (in four lines) above the portrait of Xerxes on the reliefs of his Palace. (The picture shows the latter, fallen upside down.).
  1. D‚rayavauš \ xš‚ya
  2. thiya \ vazraka \ Viš
  3. t‚spahy‚ \ puÁa 
  4. \ Hax‚manišiya \
Darius, the great king, son of Hystaspes, an Achaemenid.






DPj, column base from Persepolis

Fragment of a column base.
  1. D‚rayavauš
Darius






DSc, column base from Susa

Inscription on a trilingual column base; two examples.
  1. adam \ Darayavauš \ XŠ \ vazraka \ XŠ \ XŠy‚n‚m \ Višt‚spahy‚ \ puÁa
I am Darius, the great king, the king of kings, the son of Hystaspes.






DSd, inscription on a brick from Susa

Inscription on column bases. There are three fragments in Old Persian and two in Elamite, which may have belonged to two or three column bases. 
  1. adam D‚rayavauš XŠ vazraka XŠ XŠy‚n‚m XŠ DHn‚m XŠ
  2. ahy‚ BUy‚ Višt‚spahy‚ \ puÁa \ Hax‚manišiya th‚
  3. tiy D‚rayavauš XŠ vasš‚ AMha imam \ daÁaram akunavam
I am Darius the great king, king of kings, king all nations, king of this earth, the son of Hystaspes, an Achaemenid.

King Darius says: by the grace of Ahuramazda, I built this palace.







DSm, inscription on glazed bricks from Susa

Incomplete inscription in Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian, written on glazed bricks that belonged to a relief.
  1. adam \ D‚rayavauš \ XŠ \ vazraka \ XŠ \ XŠy‚nam \
  2. XŠ \ DHn‚m \ Višt‚spahy‚ \ puÁa \ Hax‚manisiya \
  3. th‚tiy \ D‚rayavauš \ XŠ \ AMmaiy \ xšaÁam \ fr‚bara \
  4. tya \ vazrakam \ tya \ umartiyam \ m‚m \ xš‚yathiyam \
  5. ahy‚y‚ \ bŻmiy‚ \ akunauš \ vašn‚ \ AMh‚ \ im‚ \ dah
  6. y‚va \ tyaiš‚m \ adam \ xš‚yathiya \ abavam  \ P‚rsa \
  7. Uja \ B‚biruš  \ Athur‚  \ Arab‚ya \ Mudr‚ya \ Sparda \
  8. Yauna \ M‚da \ Armina \ Katpatuka \ Parthava \ Zraka \
  9. Haraiva \ Uv‚razmiš \ B‚xtriš \ Suguda \ Gad‚ra \
  10. Thataguš \ Harauvatiš \ Hiduš \ Skudra \ Yaun‚ \ taka
  11. bar‚  \ ...
I am Darius, the great king, king of kings, king of all nations, the son of Hystaspes, the Achaemenid.

King Darius says: Ahuramazda gave me this great kingdom, so full of men; he made me king in this earth.

By the grace of Ahuramazda these are the countries of which I became king: Persia, Elam, Babylonia, Syria, Arabia, Egypt, Lydia, Greece, Media, Armenia, Cappadocia, Parthia, Drangiana, Aria, Chorasmia, Bactria, Sogdiana, Gandara, Sattagydia, Arachosia, Sind, Thrace, Macedonia [remainder lost]







DSn, inscription on a statue from Susa

Inscription in Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian, written on the garment of a broken statue.
  1. imam \ patikaram \ D‚rayavauš \ XŠ \ niyašt‚ya \ cartanaiy : [lacuna]
  2. [lacuna]na \ D‚rayavaum \ XŠyam \ AM \ p‚tuv \ ut‚ \ tya \ kartam
King Darius ordered this sculpture? to be made [...]
[...] May Ahuramazda protect king Darius and what he makes.






DSo, inscription on a slab of marble from Susa

Inscription in Old Persian and Babylonian, written on a slab of marble.
  1. [lacuna] naša
  2. tam \ akunavam \ th‚tiy \ D‚
  3. rayavauš \ XŠ \ vašn‚ \ AMha \ «Żš
  4. ‚y‚ \ id‚ \ frašam \ akunavam
[...] this relief I made.
Darius the King says: by the grace of Ahuramazda, I built something excellent here at Susa.






DSq, inscription on a slab of marble from Susa

Two fragments of a badly damaged Old Persian inscription on a slab of marble.
  1. ... a ... ... \ D‚rayavauš \ XŠ \ ... \ cašam \ ... 
  2. ..... \ ad‚na \ .... ... nasat‚ ... ...m \ m‚ \ ka ... ... \ m‚ \ y‚ ...
....
...King Darius ... eye ... has seen ....
... may he not ...






DSs, inscription on a slab of marble from Susa

Two fragments of an Old Persian inscription on a slab of marble. Only the right-hand side of this inscription is preserved, but the text is fairly stereotypical and can be reconstructed with some certainty.
  1. baga \ vazraka \ Auramazd‚ \ hya \ frašam \ ah
  2. y‚y‚ \ bŻmiy‚ \ kunautiy \ hya \ mart
  3. iyam \ ahy‚y‚ \ bŻmiy‚ \ kunau
  4. tiy \ hya \ šiy‚tim \ kunautiy \
  5. martiyahy‚ \ hya \ uvasp‚ \ urath‚c‚ \
  6. kunautiy \ man‚ \ haudiš \ fr‚bara \ m‚m \ Au
  7. ramazd‚ \ p‚tuv \ ut‚ \ tyamaiy \ kartam \
A great god is Ahuramazda, who created what is good on this earth, who created man on this earth, who created happiness for man, who created good horses and good chariots.

He bestowed gave me the kingdom. May Ahuramazda protect me and what I have made!







DSu, Elamite inscription on a slab of marble from Susa

[Brief and incomplete inscription, in Elamite. The exact reading is doubtful.]

I am Darius, the great king, king of kings [...] the Achaemenid.

King Darius says: [...] who created and [...] all that is good in this earth, he did not believe [...] I took, I have taken.







DSv, Babylonian list on a slab of marble from Susa

[Damaged list of subject nations, written in Babylonian on a slab of marble. Three fragments remain.]

I am Darius, the great king, king of kings, king of all nations, king of this earth, son of Hystaspes, the Achaemenid.

King Darius says: these are the countries of the peoples who brought me tribute. Ahuramazda gave them into my power. Media [...] Cappadocia [...] Assyria [...] India [...] Chorasmia [...]

Protected by Ahuramazda [...] they did what I commanded.







DSw, Babylonian inscription on a slab of marble from Susa

[Brief and damaged inscription, in Babylonian, on a slab of marble. The exact reading is doubtful.]

[...] that what Ahuramazda ordered [...]
I did not [...] was not punishable for me
and that what I did [...]
May Ahuramazda protect me!







DSz, fragments from Susa

[This text is a variant of DSf, written on a slab of grey marble. There are seven small fragments of the Persian text, but the best copy is in Elamite.]
  1. I am Darius, the great king, king of kings, king of all nations, king of this earth, son of Hystaspes, the Achaemenid.
  2. And king Darius says: Ahuramazda, the greatest of the gods, created me, made me king, bestowed upon me this great and beautiful kingdom, and its good horses and its men.
  3. And by the grace of Ahuramazda, my father Hystaspes and Arsames my grandfather - these both were living when Ahuramazda made me king in this earth.
  4. To Ahuramazda thus was the desire: he chose me as his man in all the earth; he made me king in all the earth.
  5. I have sacrificed to Ahuramazda. Ahuramazda bore me aid. What was by me commanded to do, that he made successful for me. What I did, all by the favor of Ahuramazda I did.
  6. This palace which I built at Susa, from afar its ornamentation was brought. Downward the earth was dug, until I reached rock in the earth. When the excavation had been made, then rubble was packed down, some 40 cubits in depth, another part 20 cubits in depth. On that rubble the palace was constructed.
  7. And that the earth was dug downward, and that the rubble was packed down, and that the sun-dried brick was molded, the Babylonian people performed these tasks.
  8. The cedar timber, this was brought from a mountain named Lebanon. The Assyrian people brought it to Babylon; from Babylon the Carians and the Yaun‚ brought it to Susa. The yak‚-timber was brought from Gandara and from Carmania.
  9. The gold was brought from Lydia and from Bactria, which here was wrought. The precious stone lapis lazuli and carnelian which was wrought here, this was brought from Sogdia. The turquoise, this was brought from Chorasmia, which was wrought here.
  10. The silver and the ebony were brought from Egypt. The ornamentation with which the wall was adorned, that from Yaun‚ was brought. The ivory which was wrought here, was brought from Nubia and from India and from Arachosia.
  11. The stone columns which were here wrought, a village named Abir‚du, in Elam - from there were brought. The stone-cutters who wrought the stone, those were Yaun‚ and Lydians.
  12. The goldsmiths who wrought the gold, those were Medes and Egyptians. The men who wrought the wood, those were Lydians and Egyptians. The men who wrought the baked brick, those were Babylonians. The men who adorned the wall, those were Medes and Egyptians.
  13. Darius the King says: At Susa a very excellent work was ordered, a very excellent work was brought to completion. May Ahuramazda protect me, my father Hystaspes, and my country.






DSaa, inscription on a slab of stone

[This text is a Babylonian, abridged variant of DSf on a square block of grey stone.]

I am Darius, the great king, the king of kings, the king of all countries, the son of Hystaspes, the Achaemenid.

King Darius says: By the grace of Ahuramazda, this palace that was built over here, was built by me. Before this palace was constructed, its foundations were laid, until I arrived at the rock bottom, and this was twenty cubits deep; and on this rock bottom, the foundations of this palace were laid.

These are the building materials of this palace: gold, silver, lapis lazuli, turquise, cornalin, cedar wood, wood from Maka, ebony, ivory, and the decoration of the reliefs. All columns were made of stone.

These are the countries that brought building materials for the decoration of this palace: Persia, Elam, Media, Babylonia, Assyria, Arabia, Egypt, the countries of the sea (= the Greeks overseas), Lydia, the Ionian Greeks, Armenia, Cappadocia, Parthia, Drangiana, Aria, Chorasmia, Bactria, Sogdia, Gandara, Scythia, Sattagydia, Arachosia, Maka.

King Darius says: With the help of Ahuramazda, the building materials for the decoration of this palace were brought from far away, and I have used them. Everything that I did, I could only do with the help of Ahuramazda. May Ahuramazda protect me until I have finished everything!






Golden pitcher of an Achaemenid king named Darius. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (USA).
Golden pitcher of an 
Achaemenid king named Darius (Metropolitan Museum of  Art, New York; ©!!!)

Darius Vase

[Inscription on a fluted bowl of Darius I the Great or Darius II Nothus.]

Darius, the great king.






An amulet with the name of king Darius, from the Louvre, Paris (France). Photo Marco Prins.
An amulet with the name of king Darius (Louvre, Paris)

An amulet with the name of Darius

[In the Louvre museum in Paris, one can see the lovely amulet to the left, which contains the name of king Darius in a cartouche. It is not an ordinary amulet but the counterpoise to a menat, which is a ritual necklace associated with the goddess Hathor. It was often worn by women.]

The perfect god, lord of the two lands, king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Darius; life forever.

Literature

  • Pierre Lecoq, Les inscriptions de la Perse achťmťnide (1997 Paris)




 home   :    index    :    ancient Persia    :    Achaemenid Royal inscriptions