Dr. Cameron To Copy Darius’ Inscription On Mount Behistun
A University of Michigan-sponsored expedition will leave for Iran next week to copy completely, for the first time, a 2,400-year-old inscription on the rocky walls of Mount Behistun.
The expedition, co-sponsored by the American Schools of Oriental Research and directed by George G. Cameron, who holds the organization’s annual professorship of Baghdad, will leave New York for France, Turkey, and finally Iran.
Dr. Cameron has been associated with the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago for 15 years, but will join the University of Michigan faculty in September. He will be absent on leave from the University of Michigan until next February, however, while on the expedition.
Above High Wall
The inscriptions, carved by order of Darius, King of Persia, 500 feet up Mount Behistun, are 100 feet above a sheer vertical wall. An accompanying relief portrays Darius himself and ten of his enemies, rebels whom he was forced to subdue before he started to extend his empire and began his ill-fated war with ancient Greece.
Additional inscriptions are inaccessible from the ground and will be reached by lowering a party from a natural shelf 300 feet above, using a steel cable and a scaffold. The cable and scaffold also will be used while a cast of the relief is prepared so that a replica may be made for the Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan.
Written in Elamite, Old Persian, and Babylonian, the writings are in eight columns telling the story of how Darius outwitted his enemies. The inscriptions have often been referred to as “The Rosetta Stone of Western Asia,” Dr. Cameron says, since modern scholars were able to compare the three different versions of the same story and thus find the key to all cuneiform (wedge-shaped) inscriptions.
According to Dr. Cameron, the inscriptions have been examined twice, once by the English adventurer, Sir Henry Rawlinson, 100 years ago, and again in 1904 by an expedition sponsored by the British Museum.
However, copies of the inscriptions made by these expeditions have long been known to be inadequate, Dr. Cameron asserts.
Dr. Cameron has booked passage from New York City on the Queen Mary, sailing on July 30, and will spend some time in France before proceeding to Turkey and Iran. He will be accompanied at least to Paris and Istanbul, Turkey, by his wife and two sons.
After completing the work in Iran, he and his family will spend January in Egypt before coming to Ann Arbor where he will assume his duties as professor of Near Eastern cultures at the University of Michigan in February.
University of Michigan Department of Near East Studies
University of Michigan - Faculty & Staff
University of Chicago - Oriental Institute
American School of Oriental Research
Ann Arbor News
Sir Henry Rawlinson
King Darius I of Persia
George G. Cameron