Further Expeditions to Analyze the Behistun Rock
Perfecting the text of the inscription. The text of King
Darius` mountainside writing has been
perfected by several more recent efforts to climb the
precipitous cliffs. In 1903 Professor A. V.
Williams Jackson, of Columbia University, climbed the
rock to check the passages that were in
doubt by scholars, and he for the first time took
pictures of the relief and inscription.
In 1904 the British Museum sent an expedition to the rock
under the direction of Leonard
William King and Reginald Campbell Thompson. They made
use of a rock shelf above the
inscription to enable them to get closer to it. Their
copy of the text became the standard of
publication for many years.
But in the year 1948 the Baghdad School of the American
Schools of Oriental Research
sponsored another expedition to the Behistun Rock.
Professor George G. Cameron, of the
University of Michigan, was director. The purpose was to
check portions of the inscriptions
about which uncertainties and difficulties still
remained; to attempt to read sections of the
inscription which had never been copied because the ledge
below it was broken at those places;
to photograph both the relief and inscription and make
molds of the former; and to determine, if
possible, how the ancient Persians reached the place on
the rock to do their work.
Cameron had at his disposal the modern skill and
engineering methods of the Anglo-Iranian Oil
Company, whose riggers reached the shelf located two
hundred feet above the inscription. There
steel pins were cemented into holes that had been drilled
in the rock. Then by means of cables
and a scaffolding the professor was able to begin the
tasks of examining and copying the
inscription and of taking pictures.
He was able to check various disputed places in the text,
and thus he was able to settle longstanding
difficulties. He also succeeded in copying the hitherto
uncopied portions of the
inscription. Some of these were identical with the known
parts. He made a mold of a portion of
the relief in order that a cast could be made and a
representation of old King Darius be presented
to the English-speaking world.
An oblique gash was discovered providing a pathway around
the mountain, and below the end of
the path was a platform with two steps leading down from
it. Holes in the top step indicated rails
of wood had been used. But below these two steps there
had doubtless been a further stairway
that was chiseled away after the completion of the work.
Thus was revealed how the old-time
workers reached the scene of their operations.