Behistun Inscription

The Rosetta stone of cuneiform


Behistun Inscription, cuneiform writing on the precipitous limestone rock of a mountain above the village of Behistun, in western Iran. The inscription was carved in parallel columns, repeating the same text in the Old Persian, Assyrian, and Elamite languages, by order of the Persian king Darius I; it recounts his genealogy and conquests. By 1846 the British Assyriologist Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson deciphered the Persian part of the inscription. As a result of this achievement, the parallel columns of the Behistun Inscription were deciphered and became the key to deciphering other ancient Elamite and Assyrian writings.