Discovery of the Behistun Rock

The discovery and copying of the inscription. Shortly before the middle of the nineteenth century, when archaeologists were beginning to uncover ancient Assyrian palaces and many inscriptions were made available to scholars in the old cuneiform language of Babylonia and Assyria, it was providential that an important discovery led to the deciphering of this formerly unknown tongue. In the year 1835 Henry Rawlinson, a young English army officer who was traveling in the region of the Zagros Mountains of Persia, saw a great bas-relief and inscription located high up on a cliff. The almost perpendicular side of the hill had been smoothed, and the inscription stood 350 feet above the base of the hill. Other travelers had seen this remarkable work of man, but Rawlinson proceeded to copy the inscription. Natives of the land helped him to reach the 14-inch ledge which extended along the bottom of the inscription, although it was now broken in places. By the help of a ladder held steady on the ledge by an attendant, he managed to copy the columns of writing.

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