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Darius and the Bisotun Inscription: A New Interpretation of the Last Paragraph of Column IV

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The last paragraph (lines 88-92) of Col. IV of the Old Persian version of the Bisotun inscription is one of the most difficult passages in this great inscription. In it, Darius points to the addition of an 'Aryan' (i.e. Old Persian) version to the two previous (i.e. the Elamite and Babylonian) versions of the inscription. There is no firm basis for the prevailing opinion that 'Aryan' refers to the Old Persian cuneiform script, and thus concluding that this script did not exist before the Bisotun inscription. Darius also announces that the text of the inscription was copied on clay tablets and on parchment and circulated throughout his empire, adding that two items were added to the copies of the inscription. Darius's tomb inscriptions (DNa and DNb) reveal his emphasis on his genealogy, and on his virtues, skills and abilities. These are the two items which were added to the copies of the Bisotun inscription and circulated to all the provinces of the Achaemenid Empire. The old Persian words used to refer to 'genealogy' and 'personality' in this part of the inscription should be read as nāmanāfa- and uvādā- respectively.

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