Inscription XV

Tušpa: name of an ancient Urartian fortress on the eastern shore of Lake Thospitis, not far from the modern city of Van. One of the Achaemenid Royal Inscriptions can be found on the southern face of the citadel of Tušpa.

In ca.521, the Persian king Darius I the Great ordered that a new alphabet 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.

Darius' son and successor Xerxes (r.486-465) left an inscription, known as XV, on the rocky southern slope of the citadel of Tušpa, the capital of ancient Urartu. It is an almost funny text that can be summarized as follows: Darius prepared this place for an inscription but never inscribed it, and therefore - Xerxes informs us - there was no inscription. So from now on, there is something to be read.

The text is written in Persian (left-hand column), Babylonian, and Elamite and survives in a perfect condition. It is the only Achaemenid royal inscription outside Iran.

Persian Text

  1. baga \ vazraka \ Auramazdâ \ hya \ mathi
  2. šta \ bagânâm \ hya \ imâm \ bûm
  3. im \ adâ \ hya \ avam \ asmânam \
  4. adâ \ hya \ martiyam \ adâ \ hya \
  5. šiyâtim \ adâ \ martiyahyâ \
  6. hya \ Xšayâršâm \ xšâyathiyam
  7. \ akunauš \ aivam \ parûnâm \ x
  8. šâyathiyam \ aivam \ parûnâm \
  9. framâtâram \ adam \ Xšayâršâ \
  10. xšâyathiya \ vazraka \ xšâyathiya \
  11. xšâyathiyânâm \ xšâyathiya \ da
  12. hyûnâm \ paruv \ zanânâm \ xš
  13. âyathiya \ ahyâyâ \ bûmiyâ \ va
  14. zrakâyâ \ dûraiy \ apiy \ Dâraya
  15. vahauš \ xšâyathiyahyâ \ puça \ Ha
  16. xâmanišiya \ thâtiy \ Xšayâršâ
  17. \ xšâyathiya \: Dârayavauš \ xšâya
  18. thiya \ hya \ manâ \ pitâ \ hauv \ va
  19. šnâ \ Auramazdâha \ vasiy \ tya \
  20. naibam \ akunauš \ utâ \ ima \ st
  21. ânam \ hauv \ niyaštâya \ katanaiy
  22. \ yaniy \ dipim \ naiy \ nipišt
  23. âm \ akunauš \ pasâva \ adam \ ni
  24. yaštâyam \ imâm \ dipim \ nipa
  25. ištanaiy \ mâm \ Auramazdâ \ pâ
  26. tuv \ hadâ \ bagaibiš \ utâmai
  27. y \ xšaçam \ utâ \ tyamaiy \ kartam 

Translation

A great god is Ahuramazda, the greatest of gods, who created this earth, who created that sky, who created man, who created happiness for man, who made Xerxes king, one king for all, one ruler for all.

I am Xerxes, the great king, the king of kings, king of all kinds of peoples with all kinds of origins, king of this earth great and wide, the son of king Darius, the Achaemenid.

King Xerxes says: King Darius, my father, by the grace of Ahuramazda built much that was good, and he gave orders to dig this niche out, but because he did not make an inscription, I ordered this inscription to be made.

May Ahuramazda and the other gods protect me, my kingdom, and what I have made.