Old Persian

Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages (the other being Avestan). Old Persian appears primarily in the inscriptions, clay tablets and seals of the Achaemenid era (c. 600 BCE to 300 BCE). Examples of Old Persian have been found in what is now Iran, Romania (Gherla),[2][3][4] Armenia, Bahrain, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt,[5][6] with the most important attestation by far being the contents of the Behistun Inscription (dated to 525 BCE). Recent research (2007) into the vast Persepolis Fortification Archive at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago have unearthed Old Persian tablets, which suggest Old Persian was a written language in use for practical recording and not only for royal display.[7]

Old Persian
RegionAncient Iran
Eraevolved into Middle Persian by c. 300 BCE
Old Persian cuneiform
Language codes
ISO 639-2peo
ISO 639-3peo
peo
Glottologoldp1254[1]
History of the
Persian language
Proto-Indo-European (c. 3000 BCE)

Indo-Iranian languages


Proto-Indo-Iranian (c. 2000 BCE)

Iranian languages


Proto-Iranian (c. 1500 BCE)

Western Iranian languages


Old Persian (c. 525 – 300 BCE)

Old Persian cuneiform


Middle Persian (c. 300 BCE – 800 CE)

Pahlavi scriptsManichaean alphabetAvestan alphabet


Modern Persian (from 800)

Persian alphabetTajiki Cyrillic alphabet

Origin and overview

As a written language, Old Persian is attested in royal Achaemenid inscriptions. It is an Iranian language and as such a member of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. The oldest known text written in Old Persian is from the Behistun Inscriptions.[8] Old Persian is one of the oldest Indo-European languages which is attested in original texts.[9]

The oldest date of use of Old Persian as a spoken language is not precisely known. According to certain historical assumptions about the early history and origin of ancient Persians in southwestern Iran (where Achaemenids hailed from), Old Persian was originally spoken by a tribe called Parsuwash, who arrived in the Iranian Plateau early in the 1st millennium BCE and finally migrated down into the area of present-day Fārs province. Their language, Old Persian, became the official language of the Achaemenid kings.[9] Assyrian records, which in fact appear to provide the earliest evidence for ancient Iranian (Persian and Median) presence on the Iranian Plateau, give a good chronology but only an approximate geographical indication of what seem to be ancient Persians. In these records of the 9th century BCE, Parsuwash (along with Matai, presumably Medians) are first mentioned in the area of Lake Urmia in the records of Shalmaneser III.[10] The exact identity of the Parsuwash is not known for certain, but from a linguistic viewpoint the word matches Old Persian pārsa itself coming directly from the older word *pārćwa.[10] Also, as Old Persian contains many words from another extinct Iranian language, Median, according to P. O. Skjærvø it is probable that Old Persian had already been spoken before formation of the Achaemenid Empire and was spoken during most of the first half of the first millennium BCE.[9] Xenophon, a Greek general serving in some of the Persian expeditions, describes many aspects of Armenian village life and hospitality in around 401 BCE, which is when Old Persian was still spoken and extensively used. He relates that the Armenian people spoke a language that to his ear sounded like the language of the Persians.[11]

Classification

Old Persian belongs to the Iranian language family which is a branch of the Indo-Iranian language family, itself within the large family of Indo-European languages. The common ancestors of Indo-Iranians came from Central Asia sometime in the first half of the 2nd millennium BCE. The extinct and unattested Median language is another Old Iranian language related to Old Persian (for example, both are classified as Western Iranian languages and many Median names appeared in Old Persian texts)[12] The group of Old Iranian languages was presumably a large group; however knowledge of it is restricted mainly to Old Persian, Avestan and Median. The former are the only languages in that group which have left written original texts while Median is known mostly from loanwords in Old Persian.[13]

Language evolution

By the 4th century BCE, the late Achaemenid period, the inscriptions of Artaxerxes II and Artaxerxes III differ enough from the language of Darius' inscriptions to be called a "pre-Middle Persian," or "post-Old Persian."[14] Old Persian subsequently evolved into Middle Persian, which is in turn the ancestor of New Persian. Professor Gilbert Lazard, a famous Iranologist and the author of the book Persian Grammar states:[15]

The language known as New Persian, which usually is called at this period (early Islamic times) by the name of Parsi-Dari, can be classified linguistically as a continuation of Middle Persian, the official religious and literary language of Sassanian Iran, itself a continuation of Old Persian, the language of the Achaemenids. Unlike the other languages and dialects, ancient and modern, of the Iranian group such as Avestan, Parthian, Soghdian, Kurdish, Pashto, etc., Old, Middle and New Persian represent one and the same language at three states of its history. It had its origin in Fars and is differentiated by dialectical features, still easily recognizable from the dialect prevailing in north-western and eastern Iran.

Middle Persian, also sometimes called Pahlavi, is a direct continuation of Old Persian and was used as the written official language of the country.[16][17] Comparison of the evolution at each stage of the language shows great simplification in grammar and syntax. However, New Persian is a direct descendent of Middle and Old Persian.[18]

Substrates

Old Persian "presumably"[14] has a Median language substrate. The Median element is readily identifiable because it did not share in the developments that were peculiar to Old Persian. Median forms "are found only in personal or geographical names [...] and some are typically from religious vocabulary and so could in principle also be influenced by Avestan." "Sometimes, both Median and Old Persian forms are found, which gave Old Persian a somewhat confusing and inconsistent look: 'horse,' for instance, is [attested in Old Persian as] both asa (OPers.) and aspa (Med.)."[14]

Script

BehistunInscriptiondetail
Close-up of the Behistun inscription
Persépolis. Inscription
An Old Persian inscription in Persepolis

Old Persian texts were written from left to right in the syllabic Old Persian cuneiform script and had 36 phonetic characters and 8 logograms. The usage of such characters are not obligatory.[19] The script was surprisingly[20] not a result of evolution of the script used in the nearby civilisation of Mesopotamia.[21] Despite the fact that Old Persian was written in cuneiform script, the script was not a direct continuation of Mesopotamian tradition and in fact, according to Schmitt, was a "deliberate creation of the sixth century BCE".[21]

The origin of the Old Persian cuneiform script and the identification of the date and process of introduction are a matter of discussion among Iranian scholars with no general agreement having been reached. The factors making the consensus difficult are, among others, the difficult passage DB (IV lines 88–92) from Darius the Great who speaks of a new "form of writing" being made by himself which is said to be "in Aryan":

King Darius says: By the grace of Ahuramazda this is the inscription which I have made. Besides, it was in Aryan ("ariyâ") script, and it was composed on clay tablets and on parchment. Besides, a sculptured figure of myself I made.

Also, the analysis of certain Old Persian inscriptions are "supposed or claimed" to predate Darius the Great. Although it is true that the oldest attested OP inscriptions are from Behistun monument from Darius, the creation of this "new type of writing" seems, according to Schmitt, "to have begun already under Cyrus the Great".[8]

The script shows a few changes in the shape of characters during the period it was used. This can be seen as a standardization of the heights of wedges, which in the beginning (i.e. in DB) took only half the height of a line.[23]

Phonology

The following phonemes are expressed in the Old Persian script:

Vowels

  • Long: /aː/ /iː/ /uː/
  • Short: /a/ /i/ /u/

Consonants

Labial Dental/
Alveolar
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
Plosive p b t d k ɡ
Fricative f θ x h
Affricate t͡s t͡ʃ d͡ʒ
Sibilant s z ʃ
Rhotic r
Approximant l j w

Notes: Lycian Kizzaprñna ~ Zisaprñna for (genuine) Old Persian *Ciçafarnā (besides the Median form *Ciθrafarnah) = Tissaphernes suggests /t͡s/ as the pronunciation of ç (compare [2] and Kloekhorst 2008, p. 125 in [3] for this example, who, however, mistakenly writes Çiçafarnā, which contradicts the etymology [PIIr. *Čitra-swarnas-] and the Middle Persian form Čehrfar [ç gives Middle Persian s]).

The phoneme /l/ does not occur in native Iranian vocabulary, only in borrowings from Akkadian (a new /l/ develops in Middle Persian from Old Persian /rd/ and the change of /rθ/ to /hl/). The phoneme /r/ can also form a syllable peak; both the way Persian names with syllabic /r/ (such as Brdiya) are rendered in Elamite and its further development in Middle Persian suggest that before the syllabic /r/, an epenthetic vowel [i] had developed already in the Old Persian period, which later became [u] after labials. For example, OP Vᵃ-rᵃ-kᵃ-a-nᵃ /vrkaːna/ is rendered in Elamite as Mirkānu-,[24] rendering transcriptions such as V(a)rakāna, Varkāna or even Vurkāna questionable and making Vrkāna or Virkāna much more realistic (and equally for vrka- "wolf", Brdiya and other Old Persian words and names with syllabic /r/).

While v usually became /v/ in Middle Persian, it became /b/ word-initially, except before [u] (including the epenthetic vowel mentioned above), where it became /g/. This suggests that it was really pronounced as [w].

Grammar

Nouns

Old Persian stems:

  • a-stems (-a, -am, -ā)
  • i-stems (-iš, iy)
  • u- (and au-) stems (-uš, -uv)
  • consonantal stems (n, r, h)
-a -am
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative -a -ā, -āha -am
Vocative
Accusative -am -ām
Instrumental/
Ablative
-aibiyā -aibiš -aibiyā -aibiš -āyā -ābiyā -ābiš
Dative -ahyā, -ahya -ahyā, -ahya
Genitive -āyā -ānām -āyā -ānām -āyā -ānām
Locative -aiy -aišuvā -aiy -aišuvā -āšuvā
-iš -iy -uš -uv
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative -iš -īy -iya -iy -in -īn -uš -ūv -uva -uv -un -ūn
Vocative -i -u
Accusative -im -iš -um -ūn
Instrumental/
Ablative
-auš -ībiyā -ībiš -auš -ībiyā -ībiš -auv -ūbiyā -ūbiš -auv -ūbiyā -ūbiš
Dative -aiš -aiš -auš -auš
Genitive -īyā -īnām -īyā -īnām -ūvā -ūnām -ūvā -ūnām
Locative -auv -išuvā -auv -išuvā -āvā -ušuvā -āvā -ušuvā

Adjectives are declinable in similar way.

Verbs

Voices
Active, Middle (them. pres. -aiy-, -ataiy-), Passive (-ya-).

Mostly the forms of first and third persons are attested. The only preserved Dual form is ajīvatam 'both lived'.

Present, Active
Athematic Thematic
'be' 'bring'
Sg. 1.pers. miy barāmiy
3.pers. astiy baratiy
Pl. 1.pers. mahiy barāmahiy
3.pers. hatiy baratiy
Imperfect, Active
Athematic Thematic
'do, make' 'be, become'
Sg. 1.pers. akunavam abavam
3.pers. akunauš abava
Pl. 1.pers. aku abavāmā
3.pers. akunava abava
Present participle
Active Middle
-nt- -amna-
Past participle
-ta-
Infinitive
-tanaiy

Lexicon

Proto-Indo-Iranian Old Persian Middle Persian Modern Persian meaning
*Hasura MazdʰaH Ahura Mazda Ohrmazd Ormazd اورمزد Ahura Mazda
*Haĉwas aspa asp asb اسب/asp اسپ horse
*kaHmas kāma kām kām کام desire
*daywas daiva dēw div دیو devil
*ĵrayas drayah drayā daryā دریا sea
*ĵʰastas dasta dast dast دست hand
*bʰagas bāji bāj bāj باج/باژ toll
*bʰraHtā brātar brâdar barādar برادر brother
*bʰuHmiš būmi būm būm بوم region, land
*martyas martya mard mard مرد man
*māHas māha māh māh ماه moon, month
*wasr̥ vāhara wahār bahār بهار spring
*stʰuHnaH stūnā stūn sotūn ستون stand (column)
*ĉyaHtas šiyāta šād šād شاد happy
*Hr̥tas arta ard ord اُرد order, truth
*dʰrawgʰas druj drugh dorugh دروغ lie
*ĉwáHdʰaH spada spah sepah سپاه army

See also

  • Category:Old Persian language

Notes

  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Old Persian (ca. 600-400 B.C.)". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Kuhrt 2013, p. 197.
  3. ^ Frye 1984, p. 103.
  4. ^ Schmitt 2000, p. 53.
  5. ^ "Old Persian Texts".
  6. ^ Kent, R. G.: "Old Persian: Grammar Texts Lexicon", page 6. American Oriental Society, 1950.
  7. ^ "Everyday text shows that Old Persian was probably more commonly used than previously thought". Accessed September 2010 from [1]
  8. ^ a b (Schmitt 2008, pp. 80–1)
  9. ^ a b c (Skjærvø 2006, vi(2). Documentation. Old Persian.)
  10. ^ a b (Skjærvø 2006, vi(1). Earliest Evidence)
  11. ^ Xenophon. Anabasis. pp. IV.v.2–9.
  12. ^ (Schmitt 2008, p. 76)
  13. ^ ((Skjærvø 2006)
  14. ^ a b c Skjærvø, Prods Oktor (2005), An Introduction to Old Persian (PDF) (2nd ed.), Cambridge: Harvard
  15. ^ (Lazard, Gilbert 1975, “The Rise of the New Persian Language” in Frye, R. N., The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 4, pp. 595-632, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  16. ^ Ulrich Ammon, Norbert Dittmar, Klaus J. Mattheier, Peter Trudgill, "Sociolinguistics Hsk 3/3 Series Volume 3 of Sociolinguistics: An International Handbook of the Science of Language and Society", Walter de Gruyter, 2006. 2nd edition. pg 1912: "Middle Persian, also called Pahlavi is a direct continuation of old Persian, and was used as the written official language of the country." "However, after the Moslem conquest and the collapse of the Sassanids, Arabic became the dominant language of the country and Pahlavi lost its importance, and was gradually replaced by Dari, a variety of Middle Persian, with considerable loan elements from Arabic and Parthian."
  17. ^ Bo Utas, "Semitic on Iranian", in "Linguistic convergence and areal diffusion: case studies from Iranian, Semitic and Turkic" editors (Éva Ágnes Csató, Bo Isaksson, Carina Jahani),Routledge, 2005. pg 71: "As already mentioned, it is not likely that the scribes of Sassanian chanceries had any idea about the Old Persian cuneiform writing and the language couched in it. Still, the Middle Persian language that appeared in the third century AD may be seen as a continuation of Old Persian
  18. ^ Skjærvø, Prods Oktor (2006), "Iran, vi. Iranian languages and scripts", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 13.
  19. ^ (Schmitt 2008, p. 78)
  20. ^ (Schmitt 2008, p. 78) Excerpt: "It remains unclear why the Persians did not take over the Mesopotamian system in earlier times, as the Elamites and other peoples of the Near East had, and, for that matter, why the Persians did not adopt the Aramaic consonantal script.."
  21. ^ a b (Schmitt 2008, p. 77)
  22. ^ Behistun T 42 - Livius.
  23. ^ (Schmitt 2008, p. 79)
  24. ^ Stolper, M. W. (1997), "Mirkānu", in Ebeling, Erich; Meissner, Bruno; Edzard, Dietz Otto (eds.), Reallexikon der Assyriologie und vorderasiatischen Archäologie: Meek – Mythologie, 8, Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, p. 221, ISBN 978-3-11-014809-1, retrieved 15 August 2013

Bibliography

  • Brandenstein, Wilhelm (1964), Handbuch des Altpersischen, Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz
  • Hinz, Walther (1966), Altpersischer Wortschatz, Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus
  • Frye, Richard Nelson (1984). Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft: Alter Orient-Griechische Geschichte-Römische Geschichte. Band III,7: The History of Ancient Iran. C.H.Beck. ISBN 978-3406093975.
  • Kent, Roland G. (1953), Old Persian: Grammar, Texts, Lexicon, New Haven: American Oriental Society
  • Kuhrt, A. (2013). The Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources from the Achaemenid Period. Routledge. ISBN 978-1136016943.
  • Sims-Williams, Nicholas (1996), "Iranian languages", Encyclopedia Iranica, 7, Costa Mesa: Mazda: 238-245
  • Schmitt, Rüdiger (1989), "Altpersisch", in R. Schmitt (ed.), Compendium linguarum Iranicarum, Wiesbaden: Reichert: 56–85
  • Schmitt, Rüdiger (2000). The Old Persian Inscriptions of Naqsh-i Rustam and Persepolis. Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum by School of Oriental and African Studies. ISBN 978-0728603141.
  • Schmitt, R. (2008), "Old Persian", in Roger D. Woodard (ed.), The Ancient Languages of Asia and the Americas (illustrated ed.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 76–100, ISBN 978-0521684941
  • Skjærvø, Prods Oktor (2006), "Iran, vi. Iranian languages and scripts", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 13
  • Tolman, Herbert Cushing (1908), Ancient Persian Lexicon and the Texts of the Achaemenidan Inscriptions Transliterated and Translated with Special Reference to Their Recent Re-examination, New York/Cincinnati: American Book Company

Further reading

Achaemenid Empire

The Achaemenid Empire (; 𐎧𐏁𐏂,Xšassa (Old Persian) "The Empire" c. 550–330 BC), also called the First Persian Empire, was an empire based in Western Asia founded by Cyrus the Great. Ranging at its greatest extent from the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper in the west to the Indus Valley in the east, it was larger than any previous empire in history, spanning 5.5 (or 8) million square kilometers. Incorporating various peoples of different origins and faiths, it is notable for its successful model of a centralised, bureaucratic administration (through satraps under the King of Kings), for building infrastructure such as road systems and a postal system, the use of an official language across its territories, and the development of civil services and a large professional army. The empire's successes inspired similar systems in later empires.By the 7th century BC, the Persians had settled in the south-western portion of the Iranian Plateau in the region of Persis, which came to be their heartland. From this region, Cyrus the Great advanced to defeat the Medes, Lydia, and the Neo-Babylonian Empire, establishing the Achaemenid Empire. Alexander the Great, an avid admirer of Cyrus the Great, conquered most of the empire by 330 BC. Upon Alexander's death, most of the empire's former territory came under the rule of the Ptolemaic Kingdom and Seleucid Empire, in addition to other minor territories which gained independence at that time. The Iranian elites of the central plateau reclaimed power by the second century BC under the Parthian Empire.The Achaemenid Empire is noted in Western history as the antagonist of the Greek city-states during the Greco-Persian Wars and for the emancipation of the Jewish exiles in Babylon. The historical mark of the empire went far beyond its territorial and military influences and included cultural, social, technological and religious influences as well. Despite the lasting conflict between the two states, many Athenians adopted Achaemenid customs in their daily lives in a reciprocal cultural exchange, some being employed by or allied to the Persian kings. The impact of Cyrus's edict is mentioned in Judeo-Christian texts, and the empire was instrumental in the spread of Zoroastrianism as far east as China. The empire also set the tone for the politics, heritage and history of Iran (also known as Persia).

Bardiya

Bardiya (Old Persian: 𐎲𐎼𐎮𐎡𐎹 Bardiya), also known as Smerdis among the Greeks (Ancient Greek: Σμέρδις Smerdis) (possibly died 522 BC), was a son of Cyrus the Great and the younger brother of Cambyses II, both Persian kings. There are sharply divided views on his life. He either ruled the Achaemenid Empire for a few months in 522 BC, or was impersonated by a magus called Gaumāta (Old Persian: 𐎥𐎢𐎶𐎠𐎫), until he was toppled by Darius the Great.

Behistun Inscription

The Behistun Inscription (also Bisotun, Bistun or Bisutun; Persian: بیستون‎, Old Persian: Bagastana, meaning "the place of god") is a multilingual inscription and large rock relief on a cliff at Mount Behistun in the Kermanshah Province of Iran, near the city of Kermanshah in western Iran, established by Darius the Great (550–486 BC). It was crucial to the decipherment of cuneiform script as the inscription includes three versions of the same text, written in three different cuneiform script languages: Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian (a variety of Akkadian). The inscription is to cuneiform what the Rosetta Stone is to Egyptian hieroglyphs: the document most crucial in the decipherment of a previously lost script.

The inscription is approximately 15 metres high by 25 metres wide and 100 metres up a limestone cliff from an ancient road connecting the capitals of Babylonia and Media (Babylon and Ecbatana, respectively). The Old Persian text contains 414 lines in five columns; the Elamite text includes 593 lines in eight columns, and the Babylonian text is in 112 lines. The inscription was illustrated by a life-sized bas-relief of Darius I, the Great, holding a bow as a sign of kingship, with his left foot on the chest of a figure lying on his back before him. The supine figure is reputed to be the pretender Gaumata. Darius is attended to the left by two servants, and nine one-meter figures stand to the right, with hands tied and rope around their necks, representing conquered peoples. A Faravahar floats above, giving its blessing to the king. One figure appears to have been added after the others were completed, as was Darius's beard, which is a separate block of stone attached with iron pins and lead.

Cappadocia

Cappadocia (; also Capadocia; Greek: Καππαδοκία, Kappadokía, from Old Persian: Katpatuka, Turkish: Kapadokya) is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely in the Nevşehir, Kayseri, Kırşehir, Aksaray, and Niğde Provinces in Turkey.

According to Herodotus, in the time of the Ionian Revolt (499 BC), the Cappadocians were reported as occupying a region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine (Black Sea). Cappadocia, in this sense, was bounded in the south by the chain of the Taurus Mountains that separate it from Cilicia, to the east by the upper Euphrates, to the north by Pontus, and to the west by Lycaonia and eastern Galatia.The name, traditionally used in Christian sources throughout history, continues in use as an international tourism concept to define a region of exceptional natural wonders, in particular characterized by fairy chimneys and a unique historical and cultural heritage.

Cuneiform

Cuneiform or Sumerian cuneiform, one of the earliest systems of writing, was invented by the Sumerians. It is distinguished by its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, made by means of a blunt reed for a stylus. The name cuneiform itself simply means "wedge shaped".Emerging in Sumer in the late fourth millennium BC (the Uruk IV period) to convey the Sumerian language, which was a language isolate, cuneiform writing began as a system of pictograms, stemming from an earlier system of shaped tokens used for accounting. In the third millennium, the pictorial representations became simplified and more abstract as the number of characters in use grew smaller (Hittite cuneiform). The system consists of a combination of logophonetic, consonantal alphabetic and syllabic signs.

The original Sumerian script was adapted for the writing of the Semitic Akkadian (Assyrian/Babylonian), Eblaite and Amorite languages, the language isolates Elamite, Hattic, Hurrian and Urartian, as well as Indo-European languages Hittite and Luwian; it inspired the later Semitic Ugaritic alphabet as well as Old Persian cuneiform. Cuneiform writing was gradually replaced by the Phoenician alphabet during the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–612 BC). By the second century AD, the script had become extinct, its last traces being found in Assyria and Babylonia, and all knowledge of how to read it was lost until it began to be deciphered in the 19th century.

Geoffrey Sampson stated that Egyptian hieroglyphs "came into existence a little after Sumerian script, and, probably [were], invented under the influence of the latter", and that it is "probable that the general idea of expressing words of a language in writing was brought to Egypt from Sumerian Mesopotamia". There are many instances of Egypt-Mesopotamia relations at the time of the invention of writing, and standard reconstructions of the development of writing generally place the development of the Summerian proto-cuneiform script before the development of Egyptian hierogplyphs, with the suggestion the former influenced the latter.Between half a million and two million cuneiform tablets are estimated to have been excavated in modern times, of which only approximately 30,000–100,000 have been read or published. The British Museum holds the largest collection (c. 130,000), followed by the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin, the Louvre, the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, the National Museum of Iraq, the Yale Babylonian Collection (c. 40,000) and Penn Museum. Most of these have "lain in these collections for a century without being translated, studied or published", as there are only a few hundred qualified cuneiformists in the world.

Darius the Great

Darius the Great or Darius I (Old Persian: Dārayava(h)uš, New Persian: داریوش‎ Dāryuš; Hebrew: דָּרְיָוֶשׁ, Modern: Darəyaveš, Tiberian: Dāryāwéš; c. 550–486 BCE) was the fourth Persian king of the Achaemenid Empire. He ruled the empire at its peak, when it included much of West Asia, the Caucasus, parts of the Balkans (Thrace-Macedonia, and Paeonia), most of the Black Sea coastal regions, parts of the North Caucasus, Central Asia, as far as the Indus Valley in the far east and portions of north and northeast Africa including Egypt (Mudrâya), eastern Libya, and coastal Sudan.Darius ascended the throne by overthrowing Gaumata, a claimed usurper. The new king met with rebellions throughout his kingdom and quelled them each time. A major event in Darius's life was his expedition to punish Athens and Eretria for their aid in the Ionian Revolt and subjugate Greece. Although ultimately ending in failure at the Battle of Marathon, Darius succeeded in the re-subjugation of Thrace, expansion of the empire through the conquest of Macedon, the Cyclades and the island of Naxos and the sacking of the city of Eretria.

Darius organized the empire by dividing it into provinces and placing satraps to govern it. He organized Achaemenid coinage as a new uniform monetary system, along with making Aramaic the official language of the empire. He also put the empire in better standing by building roads and introducing standard weights and measures. Through these changes, the empire was centralized and unified. Darius also worked on construction projects throughout the empire, focusing on Susa, Pasargadae, Persepolis, Babylon, and Egypt. He had the cliff-face Behistun Inscription carved to record his conquests, an important testimony of the Old Persian language.

Darius is mentioned in the biblical books of Haggai, Zechariah, and Ezra–Nehemiah.

Fars Province

Fars Province (; Persian: استان فارس‎, Ostān-e Fārs, pronounced [ˈfɒː(ɾ)s]) also known as Pars (Persian: پارس, Pārs) or Persia in the Greek sources in historical context, is one of the thirty-one provinces of Iran and known as the cultural capital of the country. It is in the south of the country, in Iran's Region 2, and its administrative center is Shiraz. It has an area of 122,400 km². In 2011, this province had a population of 4.6 million people, of which 67.6% were registered as urban dwellers (urban/suburbs), 32.1% villagers (small town/rural), and 0.3% nomad tribes. The etymology of the word Persian (From Latin Persia, from Ancient Greek Περσίς (Persis)), found in many ancient names associated with Iran, is derived from the historical importance of this region. Fars Province is the original homeland of the Persian people.

Iranian calendars

The Iranian calendars (Persian: گاه‌شماری ایرانی‎ Gâh-Shomâriye Irâni) are a succession of calendars invented or used for over two millennia in Iran also known as Persia. One of the longest chronological records in human history, the Iranian calendar has been modified time and time again during its history to suit administrative, climatic, and religious purposes.

As one of the few calendars designed in the era of accurate positional astronomy, the Iranian calendar uses a very complex leap year structure which makes it the most accurate solar calendar in use today.The modern Iranian calendar is currently the official calendar in Iran. It begins at the midnight nearest to the instant of the vernal equinox as determined by astronomical calculations for the Iran Standard Time meridian (52.5°E or GMT+3.5h). It is, therefore, an observation-based calendar, unlike the Gregorian, which is rule-based.The Iranian year usually begins within a day of 21 March of the Gregorian calendar. A short table of year correspondences between the Persian and Gregorian calendars is provided below.

Iranian languages

The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European language family that are spoken natively by the Iranian peoples.

The Iranian languages are grouped in three stages: Old Iranian (until 400 BC), Middle Iranian (400 BC – 900 AD), and New Iranian (since 900 AD). The two directly attested Old Iranian languages are Old Persian (from the Achaemenid Empire) and Old Avestan (the language of the Avesta). Of the Middle Iranian languages, the better understood and recorded ones are Middle Persian (from the Sasanian Empire), Parthian (from the Parthian Empire), and Bactrian (from the Kushan and Hephthalite empires).

As of 2008, there were an estimated 150–200 million native speakers of the Iranian languages. Ethnologue estimates that there are 86 Iranian languages, the largest among them being Persian, Pashto, and the Kurdish dialect continuum.

Medes

The Medes (, Old Persian Māda-, Ancient Greek: Μῆδοι, Hebrew: מָדַי Madai) were an ancient Iranian people who spoke the Median language and who inhabited an area known as Media between western and northern Iran. Under the Neo-Assyrian Empire, late 9th to early 7th centuries BC, the region of Media was bounded by the Zagros Mountains to its west, to its south by the Garrin Mountain in Lorestan Province, to its northwest by the Qaflankuh Mountains in Zanjan Province, and to its east by the Dasht-e Kavir desert. Its neighbors were the kingdoms of Gizilbunda and Mannea in the northwest, and Ellipi and Elam in the south.In the 7th century BC, Media's tribes came together to form the Median Kingdom, which remained a Neo-Assyrian vassal. Between 616 and 609 BC, King Cyaxares (624–585 BC), allied with King Nabopolassar of the Neo-Babylonian Empire against the Neo-Assyrian Empire, after which the Median Empire stretched across the Iranian Plateau as far as Anatolia. Its precise geographical extent remains unknown.A few archaeological sites (discovered in the "Median triangle" in western Iran) and textual sources (from contemporary Assyrians and also ancient Greeks in later centuries) provide a brief documentation of the history and culture of the Median state. Apart from a few personal names, the language of the Medes is unknown. The Medes had an ancient Iranian religion (a form of pre-Zoroastrian Mazdaism or Mithra worshipping) with a priesthood named as "Magi". Later, during the reigns of the last Median kings, the reforms of Zoroaster spread into western Iran.

Middle Persian

Middle Persian also known as Pahlavi or Parsik (𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪 pārsīg), is the Middle Iranian language or ethnolect of southwestern Iran that during the Sasanian Empire (224–654) became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions of the empire as well. Middle Persian is classified as a Western Iranian language. It descends from Old Persian and is the linguistic ancestor of Modern Persian.

Traces of Middle Persian, or Parsik, are found in remnants of Sasanian inscriptions and Egyptian papyri, coins and seals, fragments of Manichaean writings, and treatises and Zoroastrian books from the Sasanian era, as well as in the post-Sasanian Zoroastrian variant of the language sometimes known as Pahlavi, which originally referred to the Pahlavi scripts, and that was also the preferred writing system for several other Middle Iranian languages. Aside from the Aramaic alphabet-derived Pahlavi script, Zoroastrian Middle Persian was occasionally also written in Pazend, a system derived from the Avestan alphabet that, unlike Pahlavi, indicated vowels and did not employ logograms. Manichaean Middle Persian texts were written in the Manichaean alphabet, which also derives from Aramaic but in an Eastern Iranian form via the Sogdian alphabet.

Old Persian cuneiform

Old Persian cuneiform is a semi-alphabetic cuneiform script that was the primary script for Old Persian. Texts written in this cuneiform have been found in Iran (Persepolis, Susa, Hamadan, Kharg Island), Armenia, Romania (Gherla), Turkey (Van Fortress), and along the Suez Canal. They were mostly inscriptions from the time period of Darius I, such as the DNa inscription, as well as his son, Xerxes I. Later kings down to Artaxerxes III used more recent forms of the language classified as "pre-Middle Persian".

Parthia

Parthia (Old Persian: 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 Parθava; Parthian: 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 Parθaw; Middle Persian: 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥‎ Pahlaw) is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran. It was conquered and subjugated by the empire of the Medes during the 7th century BC, was incorporated into the subsequent Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BC, and formed part of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire following the 4th-century-BC conquests of Alexander the Great. The region later served as the political and cultural base of the Eastern-Iranian Parni people and Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire (247 BC – 224 AD). The Sasanian Empire, the last state of pre-Islamic Persia, also held the region and maintained the Seven Parthian clans as part of their feudal aristocracy.

Persepolis

Persepolis (Old Persian: 𐎱𐎠𐎼𐎿, Pārsa) was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550–330 BCE). It is situated 60 km northeast of the city of Shiraz in Fars Province, Iran. The earliest remains of Persepolis date back to 515 BCE. It exemplifies the Achaemenid style of architecture. UNESCO declared the ruins of Persepolis a World Heritage Site in 1979.

Persian language

Persian (), also known by its endonym Farsi (فارسی, fārsi, [fɒːɾˈsiː] (listen)), is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is a pluricentric language primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan (officially known as Dari since 1958) and Tajikistan (officially known as Tajiki since the Soviet era), Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.

The Persian language is classified as a continuation of Middle Persian, the official religious and literary language of the Sasanian Empire, itself a continuation of Old Persian, the language of the Achaemenid Empire. Its grammar is similar to that of many contemporary European languages. A Persian-speaking person may be referred to as Persophone.There are approximately 110 million Persian speakers worldwide, with the language holding official status in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. For centuries, Persian has also been a prestigious cultural language in other regions of Western Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia by the various empires based in the regions.Persian has had a considerable (mainly lexical) influence on neighboring languages, particularly the Turkic languages in Central Asia, Caucasus, and Anatolia, neighboring Iranian languages, as well as Armenian, Georgian, and Indo-Aryan languages, especially Urdu (a register of Hindustani). It also exerted some influence on Arabic, particularly Bahrani Arabic, while borrowing much vocabulary from it after the Arab conquest of Iran.With a long history of literature in the form of Middle Persian before Islam, Persian was the first language in the Muslim world to break through Arabic's monopoly on writing, and the writing of poetry in Persian was established as a court tradition in many eastern courts. Some of the famous works of Persian literature are the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, the works of Rumi, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the Panj Ganj of Nizami Ganjavi, the Divān of Hafez and the two miscellanea of prose and verse by Saadi Shirazi, the Gulistan and the Bustan.

Persian people

The Persians are an Iranian ethnic group that make up over half the population of Iran. They share a common cultural system and are native speakers of the Persian language, as well as closely related languages.The ancient Persians were a nomadic branch of the ancient Iranian population that entered the territory of modern-day Iran by the early 10th century BC. Together with their compatriot allies, they established and ruled some of the world's most powerful empires, well-recognized for their massive cultural, political, and social influence covering much of the territory and population of the ancient world. Throughout history, the Persians have contributed greatly to various forms of art and science, and own one of the world's most prominent literatures.In contemporary terminology, people of Persian heritage native specifically to present-day Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are referred to as Tajiks, whereas those in the eastern Caucasus (primarily the present-day Republic of Azerbaijan), albeit heavily assimilated, are referred to as Tats. However, historically, the terms Tajik, Tat, and Persian were synonymous and were used interchangeably, and many of the most influential Persian figures hailed from outside Iran's present-day borders to the northeast in Central Asia and Afghanistan and to a lesser extent to the northwest in the Caucasus proper. In historical contexts, especially in English, "Persians" may be defined more loosely to cover all subjects of the ancient Persian polities, regardless of ethnic background.

Satrap

Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic empires.

The satrap served as viceroy to the king, though with considerable autonomy; and the word also came to suggest tyranny, or ostentatious splendour.The word "satrap" is also often used metaphorically in modern literature to refer to world leaders or governors who are heavily influenced by larger world superpowers or hegemonies and act as their surrogates.

Tigris

The Tigris (; Sumerian: 𒁇𒄘𒃼 Idigna or Idigina; Akkadian: 𒁇𒄘𒃼 Idiqlat; Arabic: دجلة‎ Dijlah [didʒlah]; Syriac: ܕܹܩܠܵܬ‎ Deqlaṯ; Armenian: Տիգրիս Tigris; Դգլաթ Dglatʿ; Hebrew: חידקל Ḥîddeqel, biblical Hiddekel; Turkish: Dicle; Kurdish: Dîcle, Dîjla دیجلە‎) is the eastern of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq and empties into the Persian Gulf.

Twenty-seventh Dynasty of Egypt

The Twenty-seventh Dynasty of Egypt (notated Dynasty XXVII, alternatively 27th Dynasty or Dynasty 27), also known as the First Egyptian Satrapy (Old Persian: Mudrāya) was effectively a province (satrapy) of the Achaemenid Persian Empire between 525 BC and 404 BC. It was founded by Cambyses II, the King of Persia, after his conquest of Egypt and subsequent crowning as Pharaoh of Egypt, and was disestablished upon the rebellion and crowning of Amyrtaeus as Pharaoh. A second period of Achaemenid rule in Egypt occurred under the Thirty-first Dynasty of Egypt (343-322 BC).

History
Dialects
Language features
Grammar
Writing system
Literature
Other topics
Old
Middle
Modern
Geography
History
Languages
Culture / Society
Archaeology

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.