Bisotun

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Bisotun in Kermanshah Iran

Bisotun in Kermanshah Iran

Bisotun: UNESCO Historical Site: Bisotun This is the largest inscription of the world consisting of 1119 lines of cuneiform in three languages and situated in a very well-known spot. The rock relieves depict Darius the Great after an initial endeavor to arrest the rebels who had introduced themselves falsely as sons of Cyrus the Great. This huge inscription is in Cuneiform
Bisotun is located along the ancient trade route linking the Iranian high plateau with Mesopotamia and features remains from the prehistoric times to the Median, Achaemenid, Sassanian, and Ilkhanid periods. The principal monument of this archaeological site is the bas-relief and cuneiform inscription ordered by Darius I, The Great, when he rose to the throne of the Persian Empire, 521 BC. The bas-relief portrays Darius holding a bow, as a sign of sovereignty, and treading on the chest of a figure who lies on his back before him. According to legend, the figure represents Gaumata, the Median Magus and pretender to the throne whose assassination led to Darius’s rise to power. Below and around the bas-reliefs, there are ca. 1,200 lines of inscriptions telling the story of the battles Darius waged in 521-520 BC against the governors who attempted to take apart the Empire founded by Cyrus. The inscription is written in three languages. The oldest is an Elamite text referring to legends describing the king and the rebellions. This is followed by a Babylonian version of similar legends. The last phase of the inscription is particularly important, as it is here that Darius introduced for the first time the Old Persian version of his res gestae (things done). This is the only known monumental text of the Achaemenids to document the re-establishment of the Empire by Darius I. It also bears witness to the interchange of influences in the development of monumental art and writing in the region of the Persian Empire. There are also remains from the Median period (8th to 7th centuries B.C.) as well as from the Achaemenid (6th to 4th centuries B.C.) and post-Achaemenid periods.
Historical Description

[in French only]
On peut déduire de la traduction grecque Bagistanon, le « mont Bagistanon » dans Diodore de Sicile, que la forme originale en vieux-perse du nom Behistun était Bagistana, le « siège des dieux ». D’après les découvertes archéologiques, le site de Behistun était occupé bien avant l’époque des Achéménides. Les grottes du paléolithique attestent en effet de l’occupation de la vallée et du site dès le Xe millénaire av. J.-C. Le site fut un point stratégique pendant des milliers d’années et tout particulièrement au début du Ier millénaire av. J.-C., quand la communication avec la Mésopotamie s’accrut, passant par le mont de Behistun. Une forteresse mède fut probablement édifiée ici au VIIe siècle av. J.-C. pour contrôler l’accès. Darius Ier le Grand fit sculpter ses bas-reliefs et ses inscriptions sur la face rocheuse de la montagne en 521 av. J.-C. Le site fut régulièrement occupé depuis cette époque jusqu’au Moyen Âge.Il semble cependant que les origines du monument de Darius tombèrent dans l’oubli après la fin de l’Empire achéménide en 330 av. J.-C., de sorte que Diodore, écrivant sur le sujet deux siècles après, l’attribua à la légendaire reine Sémiramis. Douze siècles plus tard, Yaqut nota le bas-relief érodé du cavalier, attribué à l’époque parthe. Les Européens commencèrent à visiter le site à partir du XVIe siècle. En 1734, il reçut la visite du Français Jean Otter, puis d’autres voyageurs français comme Olivier (1756-1814), Jaubert (1779-1847) et Gardanne (1765-1822). J. Kinneir visita le site en 1810, mais ne put escalader la falaise. En 1818, R. Ker Porter, qui avait en vain tenté d’escalader la façade rocheuse de la montagne, écrivit que les bas-reliefs devaient être l’oeuvre du roi Salmanazar. Enfin, en 1837-1838, le major Henry Rawlinson décida de copier les inscriptions cunéiformes des bas-reliefs et de les déchiffrer : en 1847, le vieux perse était entièrement décrypté. Edward Hincks, prêtre et explorateur irlandais rival de Rawlinson, apporta lui aussi une contribution non négligeable au déchiffrage du texte.
Source: Advisory Body Evaluation

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