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Arsames


A Persian nobleman. Terracotta figure from Persepolis. Archaeological museum, Tehran (Iran). Photo Marco Prins.
A Persian nobleman.
Terracotta figure from
Persepolis (Archaeological
museum
, Tehran)
Arsames (Old Persian: Aršâma): grandfather of the Persian king Darius I the Great. He must have ruled in the second quarter of the sixth century BCE.

A brief inscription by Arsames, known as AsH, was found in 1945 on a gold tablet in Hamadan (ancient Ecbatana) and runs like this:

  1. Aršâma \ xšâyathiya \ vazraka \ x
  2. šâyathiya \ xšâyathiyânâm \ x
  3. šâyathiya \ Pârsa \ Ariyâramna \ xš
  4. âyathiyahyâ \ puça \ Haxâmanišiya
  5. \ thâtiy \ Aršâma \ xšâyathiya \ Au
  6. ramazdâ \ baga \ vazraka \ hya \ mathiš
  7. ta \ bagânâm \ mâm \ xšâyathiya
  8. m \ akunauš \ hauv \ dahyâum \ P
  9. ârsam \ manâ \ frâbara \ tya \ ukâram
  10. \ uvaspam \ vašnâ \ Auramazdâha \ im
  11. âm \ dahyâum \ dârayâmiy \ mâm \
  12. Auramazdâ \ pâtuv \ utâmaiy \ v
  13. itham \ utâ \ imâm \ dahyâum \ tya \
  14. adam \ dârayâmiy \ hauv \ pâtuv
Arsames, the great king, king of kings, king in Persia, son of king Ariaramnes, an Achaemenian. King Arsames says: the great god Ahuramazda, greatest of gods, made me king. He bestowed on me the land Persia, with good people, with good horses. By the favor of Ahuramazda I hold this land. May Ahuramazda protect me, and my royal house, and may he protect this land which I hold.
It is unclear when this text was made. It can be a fraud (modern or ancient), but it may be an original document.

Arsames was still alive in 520 BCE, because his grandson Darius I the Great (ruled 522-486) mentions him as "still living" in the inscription from the royal palace at Susa known as DSf. (The construction of this palace cannot have started before 520.) 

King Darius says: Ahuramazda, the greatest of the gods created me, made me king, bestowed upon me this kingdom, great, possessed of good horses, possessed of good men. By the favor of Ahuramazda my father Hystaspes and Arsames my grandfather were both living when Ahuramazda made me king in this earth.
Arsames had at least three sons, but we know only two names: Hystaspes, the father of king Darius the Great, and Pharnaces, who served as Darius' treasurer.
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