XPf ("Harem Inscription")

Achaemenid Royal Inscriptions: collection of Old Persian cuneiform texts from the sixth, fifth, and fourth centuries BCE, left by the Achaemenid kings on their official monuments.

XPf, obverse

The "Harem inscription", a slab of limestone that looks like a large clay tablet, was discovered in the queen's apartments of the palace of Persepolis. Its contents are rather stereotypical, but on the reverse is an interesting reference to the accession of Xerxes, who claims that his father, chosing from various candidates, made Xerxes "the greatest" (mathišta) after himself. In other words, Darius selected Xerxes as his successor.

There are four copies of this inscription and there is a Babylonian translation as well (below).

  1. baga \ vazraka \ Auramazdâ \ hya \ imâ
  2. m \ bumim \ adâ \ hya \ avam \ asm
  3. ânam \ adâ \ hya \ martiyam \ adâ \
  4. hya \ šiyâtim \ adâ \ martiyahy
  5. â \ hya \ Xšayâršâm \ xšâyathiyam
  6. \ akunauš \ aivam \ parunâm \ xš
  7. âyathiyam \ aivam \ parunâm \ fram
  8. âtâram \ adam \ Xšayâršâ \ xšâ
  9. yathiya \ vazraka \ xšâyathiya \ xšâ
  10. yathiyânâm \ xšâyathiya \ dahyû
  11. nâm \ paruv \ zanânâm \ xšâyath
  12. iya \ ahyâyâ \ bumiyâ \ vazrak
  13. âyâ \ dûraiy \ apiy \ Dârayavaha
  14. uš \ xšâyathiyahyâ \ puça \ Haxâ
  15. manišiya \ thâtiy \ Xšayâršâ \
  16. xšâyathiya \ manâ \ pitâ \ Dâraya
  17. vauš \ Dârayavahauš \ pitâ \ Viš
  18. tâspa \ nâma \ âha \ Vištâspahy
  19. â \ pitâ \ Aršâma \ nâma \ âha \ u
  20. tâ \ Vištâspa \ utâ \ Aršâma \
  21. ubâ \ ajivatam \ aciy \ Auramaz
  22. dâm \ avathâ \ kâma \ âha \ Dârayava
  23. um \ hya \ manâ \ pitâ \ avam \ xš
  24. âyathiyam \ akunauš \ ahyâyâ \
  25. bumiyâ \ yathâ \ Dârayavahauš \ xš
  26. âyathiya \ abava \ vasiy \ tya \ frathara
  27. m \ akunauš \ thâtiy \ Xšayâršâ
Another copy of XPf

[1-8] A great god is Ahuramazda, who created this earth, who created heaven, who created man, who created happiness for man, who made Xerxes king, one king of many kings, commander of many commanders.

[8-15] I am Xerxes, the great king, the king of kings, the king of all countries and many men, the king in this great earth far and wide.

[15-27] King Xerxes says: My father was Darius; Darius' father was named Hystaspes; Hystaspes' father was named Arsames. Both Hystaspes and Arsames were living at the time -thus was Ahuramazda's desire- when my father Darius was made king of this earth. When Darius became king, he did much that was excellent. [King] Xerxes says ...

  1. \ xšâyathiya \ Dârayavauš \ puçâ \
  2. aniyaiciy \ âhatâ \ Auramazdâm
  3. \ avatha \ kâma \ âha \ Dârayavauši \ hya
  4. \ manâ \ pitâ \ pasâ \ tanûm \ mâm
  5. \ mathištam \ akunauš \ yathâmaiy
  6. \ pitâ \ Dârayavauš \ gâthavâ \ a
  7. šiyava \ vašnâ \ Auramazdahâ \ ada
  8. m \ xšâyathiya \ abavam \ piça \ gâ
  9. thavâ \ yathâ \ adam \ xšâyathiya \ a
  10. bavam \ vasiy \ tya \ fratharam \ aku
  11. navam \ tyamaiy \ piça \ kartam \ âha
  12. \ ava \ adam \ apayaiy \ utâ \ ani
  13. ya \ kartam \ abijâvayam \ tyapati
  14. y \ adam \ akunavam \ utamaiy \ tya
  15. \ pitâ \ akunauš \ ava \ visam \
  16. vašnâ \ Auramazdahâ \ akumâ \ th
  17. âtiy \ Xšayâršâ \ xšâyathiya \
  18. mâm \ Auramazdâ \ pâtuv \ utama
  19. iy \ xšaçam \ utâ \ tya \ manâ \ kar
  20. tam \ utâ \ tyamaiy \ piça \ kartam
  21. \ avašciy \ Auramazdâ \ pâtuv

[28-43] Darius had other sons, but - thus was Ahuramazda's desire - my father Darius made me the greatest [mathišta] after himself. When my father Darius went away from the throne, by the grace of Ahuramazda I became king on my father's throne. When I became king, I did much that was excellent. What had been built by my father, I protected, and other I added other buildings. What I built, and what my father built, all that by the grace of Ahuramazda we built.

[44-48] King Xerxes says: May Ahuramazda protect me, my kingdom, and what was done by my father. May Ahuramazda protect this.

Babylonian text

Babylonian text

[1-8] A great god is Ahuramazda, who created this earth, who created heaven, who created humanity, who gave prosperity to man, who made Xerxes king, one among numerous kings, commander of many commanders.

[8-15] I am Xerxes, the great king, the king of all countries and all languages, king of this great and wide world.

[15-27] King Xerxes says: My father was Darius; Darius' father was named Hystaspes; Hystaspes' father was named Arsames. Both Hystaspes and Arsames were living at the time - thus was Ahuramazda's desire - when my father Darius was made king of this earth. When Darius became king, he did much that was excellent. [King] Xerxes says ...

[28-43] Darius had other sons, but - thus was Ahuramazda's desire - my father Darius made me the greatest after himself. When my father Darius went away from the throne, by the grace of Ahuramazda I became king on my father's throne. When I became king, I did much that was excellent. What had been built by my father, I protected, and other I added other buildings. What I built, and what my father built, all that by the grace of Ahuramazda we built.

[44-48] King Xerxes says: May Ahuramazda protect me, my kingdom, and what was done by my father. May Ahuramazda protect this.

Literature