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.

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