How was the Code “Cracked?”

The discovery of meaning in Babylonian tablets was a process that continued over a 200-year period. The link was through Old Persian writings: for hundreds of years, visitors to Persepolis (near modern-day Shiraz in the Farsi Province of Iran) noticed the strange inscriptions of cuneiform on doorways and stone pillars in the palace compound and were curious about them. After a succession of international scholars worked on deciphering the cuneiform script, each building on the theories of his predecessor,  Henry Rawlinson of England worked with the Bisitun Inscriptions of Persia in the 1840s. The Bisitun Inscriptions were carved during the kingship of Darius I (522-486 B.C.E.) on a rockface and included the same text in three languages. By 1847, Rawlinson had deciphered one of the three languages, Old Persian.  Rawlinson could identify 111 signs in the second language, which was Elamite, but he could not decipher it. Elamite is an ancient Iranian language. The third language was called the “Babylonian writing” by Rawlinson.  The writing was used from the third millenium B.C.E. until the time of Christ to write the Semitic language called Akkadian. Akkadian is now classified in two dialects: Babylonian and Assyrian.


About freelibraryrbd

The Rare Book Department is in the Parkway Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
This entry was posted in Achaemenid Period (c. 559-330 B.C.E.), Darius I (521-486 B.C.E). Bookmark the permalink.

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