Achaemenid Archaeology - History & Method of Research

The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies (CAIS) IRANIAN ART & ARCHAEOLOGY: ACHAEMENID DYNASTY By: Professor David Stronach. Patterns of discovery. While outside Iran the Bible, the Histories of Herodotus, and a host of other early sources served to preserve a knowledge of the conquests of Cyrus the Great and Darius the Great, in Iran itself all accurate memory of Achaemenid achievement was lost for many centuries. From 1474 onward, early travelers to Iran reported (and on occasion took leave to doubt) the popular belief that the still-intact fabric of Cyrus's tomb represented the "tomb of the mother of Solomon" (A. Gabriel, Die Erforscltung Persiens,Vienna, 1952, pp. 49f.). There matters largely stood until 1802, when G. F. Grotefend, working from the first accurate copies of the cuneiform inscriptions at Persepolis, was able to identify them as records left by the Achaemenid kings (cf. C. F. C. Hoeck, Veteris Mediae et Persiae monuments, Gottingen, 1818, p.56.). Similarly, as late as 1818 R. Ker Porter found the relief of Cyrus the Great at Bisotnn to depict a "king of Assyria and the Medes" before captive "representatives of the Ten Tribes" (Travels in Georgia, Persia, Armenia, Ancient Babylonia during the Years 1817, 1818, 1819, and 1820 1, London, 1821, pp. 507f.). H. C. Rawlinson was the first to reach the relief and to begin to copy its adjacent trilingual inscriptions something only accomplished with the aid of ropes-in 1835. But from this moment onward progress was rapid: Barely ten years were to pass before Rawlinson had completed his translation of most of the Old Persian version of Darius the Great' inscription (H. C. Rawlinson, "The Persian Cuneiform Inscription at Behistun, Decyphered and Translated...," JRAS 10, 1847-48, pp. xxvii-xxxix).

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