|Era||evolved into Middle Persian by c. 300 BCE|
|Old Persian cuneiform|
| History of the|
| Proto-Indo-European (c. 3000 BCE) |
| Proto-Indo-Iranian (c. 2000 BCE) |
| Proto-Iranian (c. 1500 BCE) |
| Old Persian (c. 525 – 300 BCE) |
| Middle Persian (c. 300 BCE – 800 CE) |
Pahlavi or Pahlevi is a particular, exclusively written form of various Middle Iranian languages. The essential characteristics of Pahlavi are
Manichaean script is an abjad-based writing system rooted in the Semitic family of alphabets and associated with the spread of Manichaean religion from southwest to central Asia and beyond, beginning in the 3rd century CE. It bears a sibling relationship to early forms of the Pahlavi script, both systems having developed from the Imperial Aramaic alphabet, in which the Achaemenid court rendered its particular, official dialect of the Aramaic language. Unlike Pahlavi, Manichaean script reveals influences from Sogdian script, which in turn descends from the Syriac branch of Aramaic. Manichaean script is so named because Manichaean texts attribute its design to Mani himself. Middle Persian is written with this alphabet.
The Avestan alphabet is a writing system developed during Iran's Sassanid era (226–651 CE) to render the Avestan language.
|Modern Persian (from 800)|
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), Armenia, Bahrain, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt, 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.
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.
In the Ancient Near East, clay tablets were used as a writing medium, especially for writing in cuneiform, throughout the Bronze Age and well into the Iron Age.
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. It borders the Black Sea to the southeast, Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to the southwest, and Moldova to the east. It has a predominantly temperate-continental climate. With a total area of 238,397 square kilometres (92,046 sq mi), Romania is the 12th largest country and also the 7th most populous member state of the European Union, having almost 20 million inhabitants. Its capital and largest city is Bucharest, and other major urban areas include Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iași, Constanța, Craiova, and Brașov.
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.Old Persian is one of the oldest Indo-European languages which is attested in original texts.
A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it must be taught to children, who will pick up spoken language by exposure even if they are not specifically taught.
The Achaemenid Empire, 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 million square kilometers. Incorporating various peoples of different origins and faiths, it is notable for its successful model of a centralised, bureaucratic administration, 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.
The Indo-Iranian languages, Indo-Iranic languages, or Aryan languages constitute the largest and southeasternmost extant branch of the Indo-European language family. It has more than 1.5 billion speakers, stretching from Europe (Romani), Turkey and the Caucasus (Ossetian) eastward to Xinjiang (Sarikoli) and Assam (Assamese), and south to Sri Lanka (Sinhalese) and the Maldives (Maldivian). Furthermore, there are large communities of Indo-Iranian speakers in northwestern Europe, North America and Australia.
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.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. 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. 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. 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.
Lake Urmia is an endorheic salt lake in Iran. The lake is located between the provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan in Iran, and west of the southern portion of the Caspian Sea. At its greatest extent, it was the largest lake in the Middle East and the sixth-largest saltwater lake on Earth, with a surface area of approximately 5,200 km2 (2,000 sq mi), a length of 140 km (87 mi), a width of 55 km (34 mi), and a maximum depth of 16 m (52 ft). The lake has shrunk to 10% of its former size due to damming of the rivers that flow into it, and the pumping of groundwater from the surrounding area.
Shalmaneser III was king of Assyria, and son of the previous ruler, Ashurnasirpal II.
The Median language was the language of the Medes. It is an Old Iranian language and classified as belonging to the Northwestern Iranian subfamily, which includes many other languages such as Azari, Gilaki, Mazandarani, Zaza–Gorani, Kurdish, and Baluchi.
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)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.
The Indo-European languages are a language family of several hundred related languages and dialects.
The Western Iranian languages are a branch of the Iranian languages, attested from the time of Old Persian and Median.
A loanword is a word adopted from one language and incorporated into another language without translation. This is in contrast to cognates, which are words in two or more languages that are similar because they share an etymological origin, and calques, which involve translation.
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."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:
Artaxerxes III Ochus of Persia was the eleventh emperor of the Achaemenid Empire, as well as the first Pharaoh of the 31st dynasty of Egypt. He was the son and successor of Artaxerxes II and was succeeded by his son, Arses of Persia. His reign coincided with the reign of Philip II in Macedon and Nectanebo II in Egypt.
Middle Persian also known as Pahlavi or Parsik, 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.
Gilbert Lazard was a French linguist and iranologist.
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.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.
Old Persian "presumably"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.)."
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.The script was surprisingly not a result of evolution of the script used in the nearby civilisation of Mesopotamia. 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".
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" and analysis of certain Old Persian inscriptions that 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".
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.
The following phonemes are expressed in the Old Persian script:
Notes: Lycian Kizzaprñna ~ Zisaprñna for (genuine) Old Persian *Ciçafarnā (besides the Median form *Ciθrafarnah) = Tissaphernes suggests /t͡s/ as the pronunciation of ç (compare and Kloekhorst 2008, p. 125 in 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-,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].
Old Persian stems:
| Instrumental /|
|Dative||-ahyā, -ahya||-ahyā, -ahya|
Adjectives are declinable in similar way.
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'.
|'do, make'||'be, become'|
|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|
|*bʰuHmiš||būmi||būm||būm بوم||region, land|
|*māHas||māha||māh||māh ماه||moon, month|
|*stʰuHnaH||stūnā||stūn||sotūn ستون||stand (column)|
|*Hr̥tas||arta||ard||ord اُرد||order, truth|
The Behistun Inscription 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. 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. 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.
Cyrus is a male given name. Etymologically it is the English transliteration of the Persian name Kourosh (کوروش). It is the given name of a number of Persian kings. Most notably it refers to Cyrus the Great. Cyrus is also the name of Cyrus I of Anshan, King of Persia the grandfather of Cyrus the Great; and Cyrus the Younger, brother to the Persian King Artaxerxes II of Persia.
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 Medes 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.
Naqsh-e Rustam is an ancient necropolis located about 12 km northwest of Persepolis, in Fars Province, Iran, with a group of ancient Iranian rock reliefs cut into the cliff, from both the Achaemenid and Sassanid periods. It lies a few hundred meters from Naqsh-e Rajab, with a further four Sassanid rock reliefs, three celebrating kings and one a high priest.
The Parthian language, also known as Arsacid Pahlavi and Pahlawānīg, is a now-extinct ancient Northwestern Iranian language spoken in Parthia, a region of northeastern ancient Iran. Parthian was the language of state of the Arsacid Parthian Empire, as well as of its eponymous branches of the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia, Arsacid dynasty of Iberia, and the Arsacid dynasty of Caucasian Albania.
The Dahae, also known as the Daae, Dahas or Dahaeans were a Scythian people of ancient Central Asia. A confederation of three tribes – the Parni, Xanthii and Pissuri – the Dahae lived in an area now comprising much of modern Turkmenistan. The area has consequently been known as Dahestan, Dahistan and Dihistan.
The Satrapy of Armenia (Armenian: Սատրապական Հայաստան Satrapakan Hayastan; Old Persian: Armina or Arminiya, a region controlled by the Orontid Dynasty was one of the satrapies of the Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BC, which later became an independent kingdom. Its capitals were Tushpa and later Erebuni.
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, Armenia, Romania (Gherla), Turkey, 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".
Proto-Iranian, or Proto-Iranic, is the reconstructed proto-language of the Iranian languages branch of Indo-European language family and thus the ancestor of the Iranian languages such as Pashto, Persian, Sogdian, Zazaki, Ossetian, Mazandarani, Kurdish, Talysh and others. Its speakers, the hypothetical Proto-Iranians, are assumed to have lived in the early 2nd millennium BC, and they are usually connected with the Proto-Indo-Iranians and early Andronovo archaeological horizon.
The Persepolis Fortification Archive and Persepolis Treasury Archive are two groups of clay administrative archives — sets of records physically stored together – found in Persepolis dating to the Achaemenid Persian Empire. The discovery was made during legal excavations conducted by the archaeologists from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in the 1930s. Hence they are named for their in situ findspot: Persepolis. The archaeological excavations at Persepolis for the Oriental Institute were initially directed by Ernst Herzfeld from 1931 to 1934 and carried on from 1934 until 1939 by Erich Schmidt.
Urartu, which corresponds to the biblical mountains of Ararat, is the name of a geographical region commonly used as the exonym for the Iron Age kingdom also known by the modern rendition of its endonym, the Kingdom of Van, centered around Lake Van in the historic Armenian Highlands.
The tomb of Darius the Great is one of the four tombs of Achaemenid kings at the historical site of Naqsh-e Rustam located about 12 km northwest of Persepolis, Iran. They are all at a considerable height above the ground.
The Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley refers to the Achaemenid military conquest and occupation for about two centuries of territories of the North-western regions of the Indian subcontinent. The conquest of the areas as far as the Indus river is often dated to the time of Cyrus the Great, in the period between 550-539 BCE. The first secure epigraphic evidence, given by the Behistun Inscription inscription, gives a date before or about 518 BCE. Achaemenid penetration into the area of the Indian subcontinent occurred in stages, starting from northern parts of the River Indus and moving southward. These areas of the Indus valley became formal Achaemenid satrapies as mentioned in several Achaemenid inscriptions. The Achaemenid occupation of the Indus Valley ended with the Indian campaign of Alexander the Great circa 323 BCE. The Achaemenid occupation, although less successful than that of the later Greeks, Sakas or Kushans, had the effect of acquainting India to the outer world.
The DNa inscription of Achaemenid Emperor Darius I is a famous inscription from c.490 BCE which appears in the top left corner of the facade of the tomb of Darius I in Naqsh-e Rustam.
Xerxes I's inscription at Van, also known as the XV inscription, is a trilingual cuneiform inscription of the Achaemenid King Xerxes I. It is located on the southern slope of a mountain adjacent to the Van Fortress, near Lake Van in present-day Turkey. When inscribed it was located in the Achaemenid province of Armenia. The inscription is inscribed on a smoothed section of the rock face near the fortress, approximately 20 metres above the ground. The niche was originally carved out by Xerxes' father, King Darius, but he left the surface blank.
Gandāra, or Gadāra in Achaemenid inscriptions was one of the easternmost provinces of the Achaemenid Empire in South Asia, following the Achaemenid invasion of the Indus Valley. It appears in various Achaemenid inscriptions such as the Behistun Inscription, or the DNa inscription of Darius the Great.